SKC, Nashville SC both in tenuous position entering clash

Aug 4, 2023; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gadi Kinda (10) passes the ball during the second half against Toluca at Children's Mercy Park. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an 84th-minute, match-winning goal by Gadi Kinda against Minnesota United, Sporting Kansas City are one point below the playoff line in the Western Conference standings.

With two home matches this week, SKC can’t afford a letdown as they welcome Nashville SC to Kansas City, Kan., on Wednesday.

Nashville (11-9-7, 40 points) is in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, seven points ahead of 10th-place Chicago. Sporting KC (9-12-8, 35 points) trail Portland for the ninth and final playoff spot. They’re two points behind Minnesota for eighth.

Neither club can afford a slip-up at this point in the season.

Sporting KC, who started the season 0-7-3 with three goals in their first 10 matches, have scored 36 goals in the 19 matches since, going 9-5-5. None was bigger than Kinda’s goal.

Kinda received a pass from Roger Espinoza in the right flat. He took a touch inside and cut back onto his left foot to shoot the ball past Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.

“I would say this is a mature performance by us,” Sporting coach Peter Vermes said after the match. “It’s really nice to see with all the different ups and downs we’ve had over the season and at a time when we needed a mature performance, guys executed on it.”

Sporting KC will try to keep up their offensive pace against a Nashville club that has allowed the fewest goals in MLS (27).

Nashville SC have been in somewhat of a freefall since their last victory on July 1. They’re 0-4-2 in the six league matches since and have scored just two goals in that time.

Their last match, at home against Charlotte on Sept. 2, went to stoppage time in a scoreless tie. After Scott Arfield put Charlotte up 1-0 in the third minute of stoppage time, Golden Boot co-leader Hany Mukhtar converted a penalty kick in the 98th minute, his 14th goal of the season.

“We’re a million miles away from where we need to be,” Nashville coach Gary Smith said following the match. “(Saturday’s) performance for sure was a long way off from where we need to be. (Now) we get some time for recovery. We get some time to work and put this game behind us.”

–Field Level Media

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