Sporting Kansas City host the second-place Seattle Sounders on Sunday, looking to start the climb from 11th place, five points below the red line. Seattle simply looks to stay hot.
Sporting K.C. (2-4-5, 11 points) begin a stretch of three matches in seven days, with Sunday's match followed by the LA Galaxy coming to Kansas City, Kan., on Wednesday then a trip to the Houston Dynamo next Saturday.
Kansas City has not won in MLS play since a 7-1 victory over the Montreal Impact on March 30. SKC earned a 1-1 home draw last Saturday with the Vancouver Whitecaps. They took a first-half lead, but surrendered the equalizer in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
It could have been a devastating loss, but manager Peter Vermes doesn't see it that way.
"I don't see a bunch of guys with their heads down thinking we aren't going to make the playoffs," he said. "I actually see that they're more committed than ever before."
On the flip side, Seattle (7-1-5, 26 points) currently is on a six-game unbeaten run and has lost just once in 13 matches. The Sounders occupy second place in the Supporters' Shield race.
Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro leads the league with seven assists, while a balanced scoring attack has four players with three or more goals. They also added center back and designated player Xavier Arreaga from Barcelona S.C. of the Ecuadorian Serie A.
"He's excited to be here," head coach Brian Schmetzer said of Arreaga. "(He's a) very respectful young man, a guy that fits into our culture."
Krisztian Nemeth scored in the first half Saturday for SKC, but later received a red card. He will serve a one-game suspension Sunday. Nemeth is tied for third in MLS with seven goals. Ten other players are either ruled out or listed as questionable with injuries this weekend.
Sporting K.C. will welcome back 16-year-old Academy products Gianluca Busio and Tyler Freeman, who have spent the first half of the month with the United States U-17 Men's National Team at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Bradenton, Fla.
--Field Level Media