A game in which a first-place club visits a last-place club carries an unexpected amount of possible storylines as Sporting Kansas City faces FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night.
Sporting Kansas City (10-6-3, 33 points) leads the Western Conference, a point ahead of second-place Seattle and Portland (pending Seattle's match against Vancouver on Tuesday). SKC are rounding into form with a 4-1-1 record in their past six matches.
With a win or a tie, Sporting would clinch a spot in the MLS playoffs.
FC Cincinnati (4-12-4, 16 points) is bringing up the rear of the Eastern Conference table, having gone 1-6-1 in their past eight matches.
While it may appear to be a breather for Sporting K.C., manager Peter Vermes isn't looking at it like that.
"If you look at all their games at home, they're really low-scoring games," said Vermes, who became the first MLS head coach to record 10 regular-season wins in 11 consecutive years with the victory over Colorado. "They're difficult to play on their field there for a lot of reasons.
"They do a really good job of fighting for things, of scraping and scrapping for stuff. I don't think there's anybody in our group who thinks this is an easy game."
Cincinnati has the worst goal differential in MLS (minus-20), but a strong effort against Minnesota United in its latest match may be a sign of improvement, albeit with the reminder of why the club occupies the cellar.
Cincinnati had 59 percent of possession in the first half, with eight shots, but only one on target, in a 1-0 home loss on Saturday.
"It's frustrating because you go inside this game to win, because every game you go to win," midfielder Haris Medunjanin said. "I think we started very well, with a couple of 100 percent chances that should normally go in. But you don't score and you let them stay alive."
Beating a first-place club would go a long way to releasing some of that frustration.
--Field Level Media