The Caps are a point back of Minnesota United for that final spot in the Western Conference after a 4-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders last Saturday, while the Wizards trail the Rave Green for first place by five points, with only six regular-season games to play.
In a campaign that has been as close as we have seen in quite some time, every victory is massive, while every defeat is magnified by the fact that one loss could make all the difference when it comes to the postseason.
Vanni Sartini and his team found that out last weekend in a 4-1 loss which put an end to their four-game unbeaten run.
Vancouver put themselves behind the eight ball early versus the Rave Green, conceding twice within the opening 15 minutes as they lacked organization and structure against their Pacific Northwest rivals, conceding 10 shots on target against them.
Falling behind is not unusual for the Caps, who have given up the opening goal in 18 of their 28 matches played this year, but they have often been able to recover, collecting 18 points from losing positions, the second-most in MLS, behind only the Wizards, who have 19.
While they are a resilient bunch, they are at their best when taking an early lead, going 5-0-2 when scoring first this season, with nine of their 10 wins in 2021 coming as the home team and outscoring their opponents at BC Place 12-4 in their last six games played there.
One team that the Caps have struggled to beat at home would be Kansas City, losing their last three games to them in Vancouver dating back to 2018 and getting outscored 10-2 over that stretch.
Throughout this campaign, the Caps have found a way to stay alive, having been down many times but never out, picking up 10 draws so far this year, one of only four clubs in the league to be in double digits in that category.
The Wizards have done everything possible to close the gap between themselves and the Sounders, but their defeat to the Rave Green continues to haunt them.
They have five points to make up for, and they will want to ensure that the gap does not get any bigger, as they will remain in the Pacific coast following this game on Sunday before heading to Seattle for a date with the Western Conference leaders at Lumen Field next Saturday, the 23rd.
Even though they are not in danger of missing the postseason, KC will want to assure their place in the playoffs in 2021, and they can do so with a win or a draw in Vancouver this weekend.
A victory in this match would also move manager Peter Vermes past Dominic Kinnear for the fourth-most regular-season wins in MLS history, and it would also tie a club record for most away wins in the non-shootout era.
If you want to slow down the dynamic Wizards attack, you have to limit the amount of damage that they can do, as this team are a perfect 15-0-0 when scoring at least twice in one match, and they can quickly turn a close game into a runaway, winning a league-high 11 encounters this year by multiple goals.
Many teams have tried several tactics to interrupt their flow and attacking prowess, but few have succeeded in keeping them quiet for 90 minutes, with KC scoring the second-most goals in MLS at 51, an average of 1.82 per match.
Sporting KC do not have any problems coming up to Canada and dealing with a different environment than what they are used to, as they are 13-7-9 on Canadian soil in the regular season, and they have not lost to Vancouver since 2017.
Brian White has added an extra dimension to the Caps attack, scoring nine goals in his last 10 appearances for the squad, taking a lot of pressure off Cristian Dajome, who has eight goals and four assists and tends to draw a lot of attention, suffering 79 fouls against him, the third most in MLS.
Fresh off starting all three matches for Canada in the recent World Cup 2022 qualifying window, Maxime Crepeau should get the start in goal instead of Thomas Hasal, and Crepeau has been in scintillating form for his club side, having gone 332 minutes without conceding, the longest active streak in MLS and the seventh-longest this season.
Midfielder Janio Bikel has appeared in all 28 games for Vancouver this year and is not afraid to be physical, committing 76 fouls in 2021, the second-highest total in the league.
Daniel Salloi has done it all for the Wizards in 2021, leading the team in goals with 16 and sitting in second in assists with six, while his 23 goal contributions are the most in the league.
He and teammate Alan Pulido each have three goals versus the Caps in their KC careers, while Luis Martins remains the only player on the team to appear in every match this year and fellow defender Andreu Fontas leads the league in goals added, a new advanced statistic that measures your on-ball contribution in attack and defence.
Vancouver Whitecaps possible starting lineup:
Crepeau; Jungwirth, Rose, Nerwinski, Gaspar; Bikel, Teibert, Owusu, Dajome; White, Gauld
Sporting Kansas City possible starting lineup:
Melia; Zusi, llie, Fontas, Martins; Espinoza, Walter, Kinda; Russell, Pulido, Salloi
We say: Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 Sporting Kansas City
The Caps have only lost once at home since returning to BC Place, and even though their record against KC is not great, they have put together some solid performances against the top teams in MLS this year, and they should be able to find a way to earn a result in this one.
KC have been clinical in the final third this season but have not been as precise away from home, getting shut out in two of their last three road fixtures.