The 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs kick off on Saturday as the 6th seed Vancouver Whitecaps head to Children's Mercy Park to take on Sporting Kansas City for the first match of the Western Conference postseason.
The Whitecaps fought their way into clinching on Decision Day, while KC have been one of the top teams in the West all season, just barely missing out on the top spot.
Here’s what you need to know about the opening round playoff fixture in the Western Conference...
What TV channel is Sporting KC vs Vancouver Whitecaps on?
When is kick off? Saturday, November 20th, 5:00 p.m. (ET)
Where is the match being played? Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
What TV channel is it on? UniMás, TUDN, Bally Sports KC, Bally Sports Midwest Plus
What streaming is it on? MLSsoccer.com & App
Sporting KC team news
After a stunning season, SKC finished third in the West thanks to a Decision Day loss to rival Real Salt Lake. Head coach Peter Vermes brought out the best in striker Daniel Salloi, leading him to become an MVP finalist and team Golden Boot winner.
Despite the tough finish to the season, Sporting Kansas City is ready for the challenges that postseason play provide.
“Everything else that happened prior to this is over, so it’s done. You’ve either been fortunate enough to qualify for the playoffs or you haven't,” head coach Peter Varmes said. “We have, and my experience over the years has been that the playoffs take on a completely different face, it’s incredibly intensive.”
Vancouver Whitecaps team news
The Whitecaps had a slow start to the season, winning just two games out of of the first 12. The team managed to gain a late momentum , qualifying to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
With the matchup set, the Whitecaps are determined headed into Kansas City. Interim head coach Vanni Sartini, in typical fashion, is confident that his team can secure a playoff win in a tough road environment, against one of the league’s premier teams.
“We’ll beat Sporting Kansas City,” Sartini said in a post-match press conference after the team’s 1-1 Decison Day tie with Seattle Sounders.
Kansas City: Melia; Martins, Fontas, Sanchez, Zusi; Espinoza, Walter, Kinda; Salloi, Russell, Shelton
Vancouver: Crepeau; Nerwinski, Jungwirth, Brown, Owusu; Teibert, Gaspar, Gauld; Dajome, White
Sporting KC vs Vancouver Whitecaps head to head record
SKC leads the all-time series between the two teams 11-4-4, with the sides never having played in the MLS Cup Playoffs against each other. In the regular season, the teams split the series with the home team winning both. Kansas City won 3-0 on May 16th, and Vancouver won 2-1 on October 10th.
Sporting KC vs Vancouver Whitecaps score prediction
Despite not being in top form to end the regular season, losing three consecutive matches, Sporting KC are still one of the top teams in MLS. Kansas City understands the stakes and intensity required for the playoffs, and this experienced group should be able to get it done on home field.
Prediction: Sporting KC 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps