The Seattle Sounders have gotten over their hangover from winning the CONCACAF Champions League, going unbeaten in five of their past six MLS games.
They will try to continue that trend when they play host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday afternoon.
Even with leading scorer Raul Ruidiaz sidelined last weekend with a hamstring injury, the Sounders played to a 1-1 home draw with visiting Los Angeles FC, the Western Conference leaders.
The point earned moved the Sounders (6-6-2, 20 points) into the seventh and final playoff position in the West, while they have at least a game in hand on all of the other clubs in the conference.
The Sounders (4-1-1 in the six-game stretch) still weren't pleased with the outcome, however, as LAFC scored in the 79th minute to even the match after Seattle's Albert Rusnak scored earlier in the half.
"It was a very even match against currently one of the league-leading teams," Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. "So, that was a good measuring stick for us. Obviously, some disappointment in there too because we were able to take the lead and you want to put those games away and take the three points."
Sporting Kansas City (4-9-4, 16 points) moved out of the conference cellar with a stunning 2-1 victory last weekend at Nashville SC on Graham Zusi's long-range strike.
It was Kansas City's first road win of the season and ended Nashville's 22-match MLS home unbeaten streak going back to 2020.
Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes bristled when asked if his club was desperate for a victory.
"We haven't talked about anything ever since I've been here that's desperation," Vermes said. "It's you play, and you play with the mentality to win. You fight for everything, and you try to get a result. That's what we try to do week in and week out."
Kansas City will again be without starters Alan Pulido (knee), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring), Nikola Vujnovic (calf) and Gadi Kinda (knee).
Since the start of the 2015 season, SKC is the only Western Conference team with a winning record against the Sounders, coming out on top in eight of 14 matches.
--Field Level Media