A goal in each half from Graham Zusi propelled Sporting Kansas City to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire at Livestrong Sporting Park on Friday, allowing the club to clinch a playoff berth.
The teams entered the contest separated by two points at the top of the Eastern Conference table, and Zusi struck the decisive blow early on before netting his second goal just before the final whistle to move Sporting five points clear of the second-place Fire and extend Kansas City's unbeaten run to nine games.
Chicago had won seven of its previous eight games but saw its run slowed by a defensively stout Sporting club.
Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen had a relatively quiet night in goal, and Chicago's best chance came five minutes into the match as Chris Rolfe missed the net from 12 yards with only Nielsen to beat.
The home side grabbed the lead in the 11th minute as Kei Kamara made his way down the right flank and delivered a low cross near the penalty spot for Zusi, who turned a first-time shot past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Kamara nearly found the net himself in the 36th when he got on the other end of a corner kick, but his powerful header was tipped onto the crossbar by Johnson, keeping the ball out.
Sporting had the better of the play in the second half and the lead never really seemed like it would be threatened as the Fire managed to put just one shot on target over the course of 90 minutes.
Zusi then capped the win with a goal on the break as he curled a shot into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.