Sunday, October 23, 2011

Your Eastern Conference Champions

Sporting KC didn't have to rely on other results, KC took care of business themselves, beating DC 1-0 and earning themselves the top spot in the Eastern Conference. KC started an unchanged lineup from the one that clinched a playoff spot vs New York. KC once again had the early pressure creating some decent chances, the best of which was a cross that Omar Bravo ran onto in the fourth minute. The bounce of the ball changed the spin just enough that Bravo couldn't get over the ball and scuffed it high and wide. Graham Zusi and Kei Kamara also had some chances but didn't seriously test Bill Hamid in the DC net. DC's early game plan seemed to be trying to play the ball over the top to Dwayne De Rosario and their best chance early on came off of a long ball that was cleared for a corner. A low driven corner to the near post was met by De Rosario, but his strike was just wide of Jimmy Nielsen's net.

DC started to come into the game more after that and started to get more possession. De Rosario almost created a chance in the 26th, but a fantastic tackle by Julio Cesar disposed the MVP candidate. In the 31st it was again De Rosario almost putting DC on top. After a DC free kick was partially cleared it fell to De Rosario whose chipped effort went just over Nielsen's cross bar landing on the top of the net. The hectic pace to the game continued as KC pushed to try to find an opener as Bravo again had a decent chance but a good late tackle from DC cleared the ball out for a corner. The came continued to be back and forth as Stephen King should have probably put DC up in the 38th minute after getting played in behind the KC defense, but Nielsen came up with a big kick save to knock the ball wide. De Rosario again almost had an opener for United shortly after. Santino Quaranta fired a shot from outside the box that Nielsen didn't hold. Instead the ball landed right into the on coming path of De Rosario. But De Rosario put the ball over the net from about 5 yards out. Right at the end of the half, Aurelien Collin had a header off a corner kick that he put just wide of the net that could have allowed KC to steal a goal just before half time. KC was able to withstand the late DC pressure and get into half time with the score tied 0-0.

In the second half the pace of the game continued to be hurried and up and down the field. De Rosario again had a half chance with a back heal that went wide of the goal. KC found some chances going forward, and finally found the opening goal off of a Graham Zusi corner. Zusi found Kamara in the middle of the box, but his header hit the post. The rebound fell to Bravo but the ball got stuck under his and Austin Da Luz's feet. The ball eventually fell out to Matt Besler who took a touch, turned a fired a shot into the upper 90 of the back post. A perfect strikers goal from the center back and KC was in the drivers seat. KC continued to push the game looking for a second, but not with as much flair as earlier. DC also seemed to be resigned to the game as well as they sat back too. KC probably should have grabbed a second in the 73rd minute, again off of a corner kick. Once again Zusi found Kamara, but Kamara's header went into the ground and bounced over the bar from about 6 yards out. After that DC were the ones that looked more interested in finding a goal, De Rosario forced a corner off of Besler after a run into the box and created some half chances, but little that really threatened Nielsen. In stoppage time DC almost put got the goal they'd been searching for and it came from former Wizard, Josh Wolff. A cross from the right by Da Luz was headed into the middle by Andy Najar. Najar's header found Wolff matched up with Besler. Wolff beat the center back to the ball but his header hit the cross bar and bounced out. Before Nielsen could get the ball back in play though the final whistle blew. The road to MLS Cup for the Eastern Conference now goes through LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Matt Besler - Besler got the winning goal and did a great job of shutting down De Rosario as much as I think anyone could expect considering he's one of the lead MVP candidates. A stand up game from the local KC product.

Player ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 7, Collin 7, Besler 8, Sinovic 7, Cesar 7, Espinoza 6, Zusi 7, Kamara 7, Bunbury 6, Bravo 6. Subs Arnaud 6, Sapong 6.

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