MLS Playoffs: Teams at familiar stage

MLS's Knockout Round concludes Thursday with two games: D.C. United-Montreal and Seattle-Sporting KC. All four teams played in the Knockout Round a year ago and all but Sporting KC, loser of an epic shootout to eventual champion Portland, advanced.

Knockout Round:
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27
D.C. United vs. Montreal
, 7:30 pm ET, UniMas
Seattle vs. Sporting KC, 10 pm ET, FS1, UniMas

D.C. UNITED-MONTREAL. The big news on the eve of the D.C. United-Montreal game is that Ivorian superstar Didier Drogba did not travel with the Impact to Washington.

Drogba, who has been suffering from back problems, did not practice with Montreal on Tuesday but instead only did some jogging on the side. He refused to dress for the 2-2 tie with Toronto FC 10 days ago as Coach Mauro Biello made it clear that Matteo Mancosu was his starting striker.

D.C. United will be favored, having gone 6-2-5 in the last three months to climb into fourth place and return to the playoffs for his third straight year. During that stretch, mid-season acquisitions Patrick Mullins and Lloyd Sam combined for 10 goals and seven assists as D.C. scored 31 goals, an average of 2.4 goals a game.

Trend lines:
D.C. United Last 5: WWWWL
Montreal Last 5: LWWTL

2016 Meetings:
July 31
D.C. United 1 Montreal 1.
DC: Patrick Mullins (Taylor Kemp) 20
MTL: Hernan Bernardello (Matteo Mancosu) 86
August 24
Montreal 1 D.C. United 1.
DC: Lamar Neagle pen. 39
MTL: Hassoun Camara (Marco Donadel) 77

Probable Lineups:
D.C. United -- Hamid; DeLeon, Boswell, Birnbaum, Kemp; Vincent, Acosta, Jeffrey; Sam, Mullins, Nyarko.
Montreal -- Bush; Oyongo, Ciman, Cabrera, Camara; Donadel, Bernardello; Bernier, Piatti, Oduro, Mancosu.

SEATTLE-SPORTING KC. Sporting KC won both regular-season meetings, at Seattle on opening game and at home in late July in what was Sigi Schmid's last game as Sounders head coach.

At that point, Sporting KC was in fourth place and Seattle in ninth. The Sounders finished fourth and Sporting KC fifth, a point behind or a swing of 12 points, to claim the home game at Century-Link Field.

The Sounders plan to approach Thursday's game like they did each game after the 3-0 loss at Sporting KC that prompted Schmid's exit and the installation of Brian Schmetzer as interim coach.

“We’ve been one game at a time in must-win games for 14 games now," Schmetzer said on Wednesday. "That mentality is ingrained in the group and it’s not going to change.”

Trend lines:
Seattle Last 5: WWTLW
Sporting KC Last 5: TWLTW

2016 Meetings:
March 4
Seattle 0 Sporting KC 1.
SKC: Nuno Andre Coelho (Jordi Quintilla) 73
July 24
Sporting KC 3 Seattle 0.
SKC: Dom Dwyer (Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi) 21
SKC: Jacob Peterson (Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara) 45+3
SKC: Dom Dwyer 79

Probable Lineups:
Seattle -- Frei; Mears, Torres, Marshall, J.Jones; Alonso, Friberg; Roldan, Fernandez, Lodeiro; Morris.
Sporting KC -- Melia; Abdul-Salaam, Ellis, Besler, Sinovic; Nagamura, Mustivar, Feilhaber; Zusi, Dwyer, Espinoza.

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