Monday, October 31, 2011

Great Kid, Don't Get Cocky

photo courtesy of Jarred Donalson
Sporting KC took a big first step in the playoffs on Sunday night in Colorado as they took out the Rapids 2-0 in the first leg of their home and home series. With the second leg at home at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, KC is firmly in the driver's seat in the series.

In the first half though it seemed like Colorado actually had the run of play, but neither side really did much with their possession. The Rapids actually in the end probably had the worst first half even with the run of play. This is because they lost both Caleb Folan and Kosuke Kimura to injuries in the first half. Folan suffered what looked to be a major knee injury early in the game while going for a ball. A little later in the half Kimura ended up with a broken foot after a challenge from KC defender Matt Besler. The game was incredibly chippy throughout the half as Kei Kamara appeared to possible take a swing at Miguel Comminges, during an altercation in the box. It was broken up pretty quickly by other players, but it showed the physicality of the first half. The best chance of the first half for Colorado fell to Wells Thompson after he got played in behind KC's defense, he cut back and tried to curl a shot to the back post but it went wide of the post. KC almost stole a goal at the end of the first half. After Colorado couldn't clear a Graham Zusi corner. Julio Cesar found Zusi again and Zusi played a low ball into the near post where Teal Bunbury ran onto it and hit it off the near post, although it appeared that Matt Pickens had it covered.

In the second half, KC played better and struck early giving themselves the lead in the 49th minute. Cesar stepped in, intercepting a pass by substitute, Mac Kandji. Cesar immediately played a fantastic through ball to Bunbury who ran in behind the Colorado defense. Bunbury raced in on goal and slotted the ball to the far post past Pickens and into the net. KC continued to push for a second goal after getting the first. In the 57th minute, Zusi played Bunbury in behind CO's defense again, but as Bunbury took a touch, Tyrone Marshall knocked Bunbury down, referee Baldomero Toledo immediately pointed to the spot and then handed Marshall a red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Bunbury stepped up and buried the PK, doubling KC's lead. On the lead up to the play, Bunbury tried to be Drew Moor to a ball, on the shoulder to shoulder challenge by Bunbury, Moor apparently suffered a separated shoulder and he too had to be substituted out. The three injuries combined with Marshall's red card puts Colorado in an even bigger hole heading into Wednesday night.

The game continued to open up as Colorado looked to find a way back into the game. This gave KC the opportunity to try to find a third, CJ Sapong forced a good save out of Pickens 10 minutes after Bunbury doubled the lead. Still Colorado had opportunities to get back into the game. Kandji had the best chance as he got played in behind the defense. Jimmy Nielsen did well to get off the line and cut down the angle and getting a touch on Kandji's shot to put it wide. It was KC though that had the better chances. Jeferson and Davy Arnaud forced good saves out of Pickens, and Soony Saad got the ball stuck under his feet. All 3 were second half subs as KC looked to take advantage of the man advantage. That's the one disappointing thing about the game last night, that KC wasn't able to find a goal while a man up, but the 2 goals will be big in the home leg on Wednesday. And should be enough to help lead KC through the round.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Teal Bunbury - A brace for the second year man. Bunbury seems to be on form right now. He became only the third KC player in team history to score 2 goals in a playoff game (Miklos Molnar 2000, Arnaud 2004). Bunbury's form has been extremely good lately which will be a major plus in the playoffs.

Honorable mention Julio Cesar

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 6, Collin 6, Besler 6, Sinovic 6, Cesar 8, Espinoza 6, Zusi 7, Kamara 6, Bunbury 8, Sapong 6. Subs Arnaud 6, Jeferson 6, Saad NR.

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