Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sporting Headed to MLS Cup

Sporting Kansas City finally got the better of the Houston Dynamo in the playoffs and clinched a spot in MLS Cup this year 2-1. With the win, Sporting KC will host the game at Sporting Park on December 7th.  For the first time in KC's now six times they've met Houston in the playoffs, both teams scored in the same game. In previous games at least one team has earned a shutout when the teams met in the playoffs.

Things didn't start off very well for KC though, as in just the third minute, Houston grabbed the lead. A cross into the box by Andrew Driver was headed up by Aurelien Collin.  Cam Weaver kept the ball in play as it then went to Brad Davis. Davis headed the ball to the back post for Oscar Boniek Garcia. Garcia cut inside on Seth Sinovic. Matt Besler tried to get over to help out, but as he made a sliding challenge, Garcia took his shot. The shot deflected off of Besler and lofted over Jimmy Nielsen and into the net giving the Dynamo an early lead. In the eighth minute, KC should have been level though. A nice cross field ball by Benny Feilhaber found Chance Myers as he raced down the line. Before the ball went out, Myers got a touch on the ball playing it into the middle for Dom Dwyer who was racing into the box. Dwer didn't make solid contact with the ball though and it ended up underneath him. Dwyer couldn't readjust and put the ball on frame as Houston cleared. In the fourteenth minute though KC did get level. After a give away in the Houston end, Oriol Rosell picked out Feilhaber in the middle. Feilhaber dribbled at the Houston defense before losing the ball. A poor clearance by the Dynamo put the ball right into the path of CJ Sapong in the Houston box. Sapong made no mistake, beating Tally Hall and leveling the game. The 29th minute saw another decent opportunity by Dwyer. The Englishman did a very good job keeping the ball in play along the side line before racing towards the Dynamo box. Again he kept the ball in play on the end line before going down in the box under little contact looking for a PK that wasn't coming. A minute later the Dynamo should have gone back on top. A cross by Corey Ashe made it's way through to the back post where Weaver was unmarked. The Dynamo forward though, skied his effort over the bar. Just before half time, it was KC's turn again to blow a good chance. Dwyer did a good job dribbling by his man and into the box. Dwyer then squared the ball to the back post to Sapong. The ball was a little bit behind Sapong, but he also stumbled as he tried to hit it and ended up falling to the ground and hurting his arm as the two teams went into half time level.

The second half saw KC control the game as they had for decent periods of the first half, but it was the Dynamo in the 58th who almost grabbed the lead. A cross to the back post by Driver was cleared by Sinovic only as far as Garcia who fired a shot into the side netting. In the 63rd, KC took the lead. Some good combination play near midfield saw Graham Zusi free Feilhaber in the middle of the field. After racing towards the Houston back line, Feilhaber put a little chip over the defense into the path of Dwyer. Dwyer cut outside on his defender as he slid by and then slotted a shot into the near post past Hall to make it 2-1 KC. The 67th saw KC with another good opportunity as Zusi floated a free kick into the box for Collin. Hall came to meet him, trying to catch the ball, but it fell to the ground. Collin tried to turn and hit the shot, but it went over the goal keeping the score 2-1. KC started to sit just a little deeper, conceding more possession to the Dynamo. In the 80th minute, Ashe had a good opportunity to level the score. A cross by Kofi Sarkodie bounced through a number of KC players to Ashe at the back post. Ashe fired a shot on goal that Nielsen couldn't hold. The Dane though fell on the rebound keeping the lead for KC. The Dynamo pressured, but couldn't find a second goal and KC advanced to their third MLS Cup.

Wizards Man of the Match - Benny Feilhaber - A number of players performed quite well in the game. But with Ricardo Clark out a lot of pressure fell on Feilhaber and Graham Zusi to take advantage of that space in Houston's midfield. Both of them did as they were able to run at the Houston defense. Two times Feilhaber runs at the Houston midfield/defense led to KC's two goals on the night.

Honorable mention - Graham Zusi, Aurelien Collin

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 6, Collin 8, Besler 7, Sinovic 6, Nagamura 7, Rosell 7, Feilhaber 8, Zusi 8, Dwyer 7, Sapong 7. Opara NR, Peterson NR, Bieler NR


Nathan Martin said...

Nagamura allows "Benny being Benny".

The best defense in MLS will have been to 11 of 18 MLS Cups and is 7-3.

SKC are the favorite despite all the talk about the Western Conference.

Anonymous said...

Great win!! But I have to ask: Have you ever watched Nagamura pass? Does he have a single tackle this season? Why is he allowed to shoot? Why is Benny in the defensive 18 while Naga jogs around? A 7?? What does everyone see that I miss? Couldn't any scrub jog in the general direction of the ball and be just as effective? He isn't involved in defensive and screws up the offensive half.

Dan said...

You mean like the pass he played through to Zusi that led to the 2nd goal?

As Nathan said, Nagamura on the field allows "Benny to be Benny" and make the plays that he did last night. If you can't see that than I'm sorry there's really not much to discuss with you.

mouf said...

Re: "What does everyone see that I miss"

Apparently how midfield works, in general.

Just look at the midfield without Naga and can see what you are missing.