Sporting KC blanks Cincinnati to clinch playoff berth

By The Associated Press
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia, right, collides with FC Cincinnati defender Tom Pettersson (3) while trying to punch away the ball in front of the goal in Wednesday's MLS match at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Melia made two saves to become Sporting KC's all-times saves leader and lead his team to a 1-0 victory.

CINCINNATI – Roger Espinoza scored and Sporting Kansas City clinched a playoff berth with a 1-0 victory over FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night. 

Sporting Kansas City (11-6-3) also moved into the Western Conference lead. Cincinnati (4-13-4) lost its third straight match and was eliminated from playoff contention. 

Espinoza's shot from close range deflected off goalkeeper Spencer Richey's left foot in the 57th minute. 

Tim Melia made two saves to become Sporting's career leader with 510. Melia broke the record with his first save, a deflection off Jurgen Locadia's left-footed shot to the near post in the 46th minute.

Sporting Kansas City has 36 points, moving one point ahead of Seattle (10-5-4) and Portland (10-5-5) in the Western Conference. Seattle has played one less game than Sporting and Portland. 

Cincinnati had chances in the second half. Siem de Jong's penalty kick hit the right post in the 63rd minute. Brandon Vazquez's chipped a shot off the post in the 88th. 

It was Cincinnati's last game at Nippert Stadium. Cincinnati will play next season at West End Stadium.