Thursday, November 03, 2011

One Step Closer

Sporting KC moved one step closer to a potential trip to LA and MLS Cup last night when they took out the Colorado Rapids at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, winning 2-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate. The shutout was the team's fourth straight, the most in a row since the team's run to the championship in 2000. In the rain, the game was fairly sloppy as neither team could really get going fast out of the gate. The slower start to the game favored KC since they were already holding onto a 2-0 lead from the first leg. The best chance early on came to Teal Bunbury who collected a long ball over the top, but couldn't control it enough in the weather to get a good angle on a shot and Matt Pickens was able to make the save. Colorado had some of the better possession early on, but KC had was able to get up the field quickly on counters, one attempt at that led to the first goal. After Kei Kamara was fouled on a counter attack, Graham Zusi played a nice lofted ball into the middle of the box for Aurelien Collin. Collin beat Pickens to the ball and knocked the ball in off the back of his head to give KC the lead. The wind probably played a bit of a role in the play, but KC was up 1-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate. After the goal Colorado continued to try to push the game looking to get back into the series, but really didn't create many chances, and most of the ones they did create ended up being easily handled by Jimmy Nielsen. The best chance for Colorado probably came in stoppage time by accident, as a Brian Mullan free kick from midfield bounced right in front of Nielsen, who was able to claim it.

In the second half, the game really started to open up as Colorado started to throw more numbers forward and KC continued to counter. Sanna Nyassi forced a decent save out of Nielsen after a blocked pass fell to him just outside the box. Shortly after that, Collin almost doubled the lead off a corner kick, but his effort hit the elbow of the post and bounced out of play. Again on the counter KC almost made it 2-0 a little later as Zusi fed CJ Sapong, whose shot was knocked away by Pickens. While Colorado had the possession, KC was the team doing more with their chances, and a second goal for KC was always the most likely. In the 76th, KC found it, again off of a Zusi free kick. Zusi found the head of Sapong who from about 16 yards out powered a header over Pickens and into the net, doubling the lead for KC. As the rest of the game wore out, KC still created chances but also tried to kill the game off a little bit with possession. Colorado, after the second goal, seemed totally deflated, and for a long time I thought we'd see another red and things got extremely chippy on both sides of the ball. Both teams though finished with 11 and it was KC cruising into the conference finals. KC now plays on Sunday, time dependent on tonight's LA game. An LA win means KC will play at 4:30PM, a New York win that eliminates LA will see KC play at 8PM.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Graham Zusi - Some fantastic free kicks again tonight from Zusi, he continues his break out season adding two assists to his assist total. He also pulled the strings very well in the middle of the field for KC.

Honorable Mention - Aurelien Collin, Teal Bunbury

Players Ratings - Nielsen 7, Myers 7, Collin 8, Besler 7, Sinovic 7, Cesar 8, Espinoza 6, Zusi 9, Kamara 6, Bunbury 7, Sapong 7. Subs Arnaud 6, Diop 6, Saad NR.

1 comment:

hartley said...

Great win. Big win. Fantastic win. Go Sporting. We are down to 180 minutes.

Only two things bother me. One, while Zusi had an incredible game, I think he needs to start shooting again. I saw at least three times last night when he was looking to pass instead of shoot. Now, I know he has been great a creating chances for others, but to keep getting that space, he will need to take some shots to get the defense coming for him.

Second, how is it that Nyassi didn't get a red for that tackle on Myers? Overall I thought the ref did a great job. And though the game had a lot of contact, I thought Nyassi was a bit out of control. He seemed intent on hurting someone. In comparison, I think Mullen is a really rough player that gets away with way too much contact. But I rarely get the impression he is trying to hurt someone.