Kansas City, KS – Sporting Kansas City will look to nail down first place in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday when the club welcomes to the Philadelphia Union to Livestrong Sporting Park.
Kansas City has spent much of the season atop the East, but D.C. United's late-season surge has prevented the club from clinching the top spot ahead of the playoffs.
Sporting leads D.C. by three points with one match to go, so all it needs to secure the top seed in the East is a draw with the Union.
The club could be buoyed by the possible return of Roger Espinoza. The Honduran midfielder sprained his ankle two weeks ago and returned to training on Monday, though he was still uncertain as to whether or not he would feature in the club's regular season finale.
"If the game was right now," he told MLSsoccer.com on Monday, "I couldn't play."
If push came to shove, Espinoza would likely play in the match. But Sporting is already in the playoffs and the potential for the injury to flare up would increase at the wrong time should he take the field against Philadelphia.
"We've still got a few hours before the [Philadelphia] game," he said. "I'll see how I feel the rest of [Monday] and [Tuesday], or even Wednesday morning or later. It was sore at the beginning, like any injury, but it loosened up.
"I'm taking it slow, though, because you don't know - when you're trying to go forward - if you're going to hurt it again."
Peter Vermes' men would normally stand a good chance to claim a home point in their sleep, but they will be coming up against a Union side that has won three of its last five league matches.
It's too little too late for the Union, who were eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago, but at the heart of the impressive run has been striker Jack McInerney.
McInerney has scored in four consecutive matches, but head coach John Hackworth still wants to see more from his budding star.
"For me, I'm always going to be a little bit critical of guys in terms of areas to improve," Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com. "Jack played well the other night, there's no question. But I still think he can get better. His reactions to certain moments have to be immediate. And some of his gesturing to teammates, to referees, to opponents, it's not even worth doing."