Heading into their MLS Western Conference semifinal, Peter Vermes ripped a page out of Adrian Heath’s playbook.

The Sporting Kansas City manager claimed Monday that Minnesota United was the favorites going into their MLS Cup Playoff match, which was moved back a day to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in order for television coverage to upgrade from FS1 to a bigger audience on FOX.

This us-against-the-world tactic has been the go-to pregame ditty for Heath for years, including earlier this season when he dialed it up regularly during the summer’s MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Fla.

Columbus Crew coach Caleb Porter called it out back then, and Vermes is going a step further regardless of the facts.

After a rare down year in 2019, Sporting side won the Western Conference this season, averaging 1.86 points per game, to secure the No. 1 seed and the home-field perk that goes with it. Yet Vermes’ source for feeling lesser than the Loons was “that’s what the pundits are saying.”

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Heath couldn’t help but smirk when Vermes’ claim was relayed to him Monday.

“I get on really well with Peter, so I will have to ask him the question on what criteria he’s going on,” Heath said. “Is it the fact that they’ve won the West and are the top of the league and very rarely get beat that we are favorites now and we haven’t won a game there?

“It’s a little mystifying that one, but maybe that is Peter playing some games.”

The Bet MGM odds on the MLS website have Sporting a favorite at minus-162 and United the underdog at plus-425.

FiveThirtyEight has given K.C. the third-best odds to win MLS Cup at 23 percent, behind Columbus (25) and Seattle (24), with Minnesota fifth at just 6 percent. The analytical site also give Sporting odds of 64 percent to advance past United.

Vermes was doing this before the first-round matchup, too, saying the West favorites were Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles FC. Only Seattle remains alive in the single-elimination playoffs; it plays FC Dallas in the other semifinal Tuesday.

Sporting will be getting back its top scorer, too. Alan Pulido, who has a combined 11 goals and assists in 12 games this year, returns after his knee injury forced him to miss the penalty-kick shootout victory over San Jose in the quarterfinals.

Heath mentioned the nearly $10 million transfer fee K.C. spent to bring Pulido in from Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico’s Liga MX.

“The size of transfer fee that they paid for him, far and away the most expensive player in SKC’s history, gives you an idea of their thoughts of him,” Heath said. “He is a really good player. He is the full package. He is very good with his back to goal. Very good in front of goal. His link-up play is excellent, his timing of getting in the right spot at the right time is as good as you will see.”

Sounds like Heath is talking up a favorite. But Heath has his own starters’ back as well.

Romain Metanire missed United’s 3-0 win over Colorado in the quarterfinals. He has been in a COVID-19 quarantine after taking commercial flights back from international duty with Madagascar.

Metanire and Ozzie Alonso (hamstring) are healthy and fit and will be available Thursday, Heath said.

Heath said Monday the Loons have been “hopeless” in previous games at Children’s Mercy Park. That includes an 0-5 record and a 11-1 goal differential in MLS games in Kansas since 2017.

“The intimidating factor, if you want to call it that, of going to Kansas is two-fold for me: It’s the opposition and the team that you are going with,” Heath said. “I remember going there, as I say, with virtually a reserve team on one occasion.”

When the Loons got smoked 3-0 in June 2017, they had expansion-era players such as Jermaine Taylor, Collen Warner, Bashkim Kadrii and Ish Jome on the field.

In 2018, they got their only goal from an unlikely source, defender Tyrone Mears, and were still running out Alexi Gomez despite his struggles.

“But this isn’t that,” Heath continued. “We’ve got an experienced group of hardened professionals, who know what is at stake and knows what’s coming. There is not one player on that field who hasn’t been in this type of environment with what’s on the line before. That gives me more encouragement.”

After the Rapids win on Nov. 22, Heath revealed that he told his players they have three more wins to go. That means they would be hoisting the MLS Cup in mid-December.

That big-picture outlook with an nine-game unbeaten streak, and this closing comment from Heath on Monday doesn’t sound like it’s coming from an underdog.

“This is the best group and the best team we’ve ever had, and it’s playing with confidence,” he said. “So lets take that to the next stage.”