Kansas City (14-10-6) at Columbus (12-14-5), 7:30 p.m.
Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Crew has picked a good time to be in its best form of the season as the club puts its three-match winning streak on the line against Sporting Kansas City at Crew Stadium on Saturday.
Having struggled to string together a good run of results for much of the season, the Crew has won its last three games to move to within one point of a playoff spot.
The team's 4-2 win over FC Dallas last time out continued the good run of results the club has achieved under interim head coach Brian Bliss, who saw his record improve to 4-1-0 since taking over for Robert Warzycha.
Columbus has scored 11 goals in the five matches under Bliss, and the boss knows that despite his side's recent surge, the wins must continue.
"The ball's in our court a little bit. We're putting some pressure on the teams ahead of us," Bliss said after the win over FCD. "Our guys feel good about our game, they feel good about each other, they feel good about themselves individually. We've just got to carry this momentum and keep going."
The Crew has played one more game than many of the other contenders in the Eastern Conference, so a setback would be a huge blow to the late-season surge Bliss and his side has mounted.
Sporting was on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline at home against Philadelphia last Friday, a result that snapped a three-game winning streak for the team.
The result left Sporting four points back of Eastern Conference leaders Red Bull New York, but despite the disappointing score, head coach Peter Vermes couldn't fault the effort of his team.
"I don't have any negative comments when it comes to the players' commitment on the field, their work ethic, and the opportunities they created," Vermes said. "All that was great. But on the attack side, we just weren't clinical enough to score. And you need to score. You need to put the ball in the back of the net."
Sporting scored seven goals in its three previous wins combined so a return to form in front of net will go a long way toward getting the team back into the win column.
A victory over Columbus combined with a few other results going the right way could see Sporting clinch a playoff spot, but for now the focus will be on getting back to winning ways over the final four games, with three those of those contests coming on the road.