Since Sporting KC's win yesterday over Real Esteli I've seen a number of questions directed at me and on other Sporting related social media platforms trying to figure out exactly where KC stands heading into the final game of the group stage in October against Deportivo Saprissa in Costa Rica.
First let's take a look at the group standings at this time.
To start things off, Esteli is eliminated, they've finished group play with just the two points from their home draws against KC and Saprissa. That leaves just KC and Saprissa alive in the group, with KC ahead of Saprissa by three points.
The simplest solution for Sporting to advance is to win or draw when they travel to Costa Rica in October. Those results would put KC on 10 or 8 points while Saprissa would be on 4 or 5 depending on which of the two results occur. If KC loses, that's where the complication comes in a little bit, especially with the tie breakers employed by CONCACAF.
1. Greater number of points earned in matches between the teams concerned
2. Greater goal difference in matches between the teams concerned
3. Greater number of goals scored away from home in matches between the teams concerned
4. Reapply first three criteria if two or more teams are still tied
5. Greater goal difference in all group matches
6. Greater number of goals scored in group matches
7. Greater number of goals scored away in all group matches
8. Drawing of lots
So a loss would put Sporting KC and Saprissa level on points at 7, sending the teams into the tiebreakers. The first tiebreaker would immediately be bypassed as the teams would be tied here on 3 points each in the head to head match up. The second tie breaker is the first place things could be decided in a loss. KC holds the lead in head to head goal difference after the 3-1, they sit with +2 while Saprissa is -2. That means if KC loses to Saprissa by 1 goal (1-0, 2-1, etc), Sporting KC would advance because they would sit at +1 goal difference to Saprissa's -1. If KC lose by 3 goals to Saprissa (3-0. 4-1, etc) then it would be Saprissa advancing as they would overturn KC's +2 goal difference.
If KC loses by 2 goals to Saprissa both teams would be even on head to head goal difference, meaning the teams would have to go to the third tie breaker, the greater away goals in head to head match ups. Currently Saprissa has the 1 away goal from the 3-1 loss. This means that a 2-0 loss by KC would see Sporting KC eliminated from the competition. On the other hand, a 2 goal loss where KC scores more than 1 goal (4-2, 5-3, etc) would see Sporting go through.
A 3-1 loss by Sporting KC though would see the two teams level on goal difference and on away goals, meaning they'd have to move further down the tiebreakers. The 4th tiebreaker does not apply as there can only be 2 teams tied. The 5th tie breaker, greater goal difference in all group games would also be level between the two sides. Sporting and Saprissa would both be at +3 because both won their home games against Esteli 3-0. The sixth tie breaker would also be tied as both teams would have scored 8 goals in all group games. The seventh tie breaker would also be even as the teams would both have scored two away goals. What that means, is that if Sporting KC loses to Saprissa in Costa Rica in October, the winner of the group will be decided by a drawing of lots.
That certainly makes some of those misses by Dom Dwyer against Saprissa and Claudio Bieler against Esteli stand out more prominent now.
Hope that clears up the situation for everyone.