Thursday, November 07, 2013

Sporting KC Advance to Conference Finals

Sporting Kansas City controlled every aspect of the game last night against the New England Revolution, but it took extra time to knock off the Revs and see KC through to their second conference finals in three years where they'll meet their old friends, Houston. The 3-1 score line flattered the Revs in aspects of the game, but it really was a typical Sporting performance at home. They outshot the Revs 32-5 and 10-2 in shots on goal, but Matt Reis in the New England net made a number of fantastic saves to keep New England in the game.

As was expected, KC came out pushing the game from the start in the first half. Their first good opportunity came in the 17th minute. Seth Sinovic played a nice cross into the box where Dom Dwyer had lost his mark. Dwyer put his header on goal, but Reis did very well to get down and palm the ball away. He then jumped on the rebound before Dwyer could get a touch. CJ Sapong had another opportunity in the 33rd off a cross from Graham Zusi, but the forward directed his header right at Reis. Finally in the 41st, Sporting leveled the aggregate scoring. Off a short free kick, Chance Myers played a cross into the box towards Dwyer, Sapong, and Aurelien Collin, the ball bounced off of Andrew Farrell into the path of Collin whose sliding left footed shot went past Reis and into the net making it 2-2 on aggregate. Dwyer and the returning Paulo Nagamura also had opportunities, but couldn't give KC the aggregate lead in the first half.

The second half saw KC look to improve on their 72% possession in the first half and find a second goal. Again though, Reis denied KC. In the 55th minute, Myers played a great cross into the near post for Dwyer who headed the ball on goal. The rebound fell to Benny Feilhaber who was racing in. Reis recovered from the first save though and knocked away Feilhaber's header as well. This led to a counter for the Revolution that Myers ended up having to clear. In the 70th minute, KC paid for the missed chances. After Matt Besler fouled Juan Agudelo out by the end line. Kelyn Rowe whipped a ball into the box where Dimitry Imbongo, falling down, hit a side volley that Jimmy Nielsen couldn't keep out and the Revs were level on the night and ahead on aggregate again.

Needing another goal, KC pushed forward in greater numbers, and it didn't take them long to get back on top on the night. A long ball over the top by Collin was flicked on by Zusi into the path of Seth Sinovic. Sinovic had made a driving run up field after seconds earlier being up-ended by Agudelo. The ball fell nicely into Sinovic's path and he fired a rocket past Reis and into the net. The type of strike any striker would be proud of, Sinovic had leveled the aggregate scoring at 3-3. The Revolution almost added another in the 85th. Diego Fagundez led a 2v2 break with Agudelo. Dribbling at Besler, Fagundez fired a shot from about 25 yards out. His shot skimmed the top of the cross bar and went out, with Nielsen thinking it was going well over. KC had one last chance in regulation to grab the win. After getting by Farrell and referee Mark Geiger playing advantage, Zusi squared a ball for Nagamura at the top of the box. He tried to pick out the far corner, but his shot went just wide of the post. Seconds later we were headed to extra time.

Into extra time, KC continued to control the play but again could not finish their chances. In the second period of extra time, it almost cost them. In the 109th minute, Agudelo received a pass from Lee Nguyen. Agudelo cut inside Besler and was 1v1 with Nielsen. Nielsen though did extremely well and made a kick save as Agudelo tried to slide the ball in near post. The Revs paid for the miss in the 113th. After Reis collected the ball he tried to quickly play Fagundez on the counter. Feilhaber though read the play and won the ball in front of Fagundez and started back in on goal. Feilhaber played a nice ball on the ground to the middle of the box where substitute, Claudio Bieler slotted the ball into the far post, giving KC a 3-1 lead on the night and 4-3 on aggregate. Sapong ended up playing a crucial part on the goal as he looked to have partially screened Reis so he did not get a good job on the ball. KC sat back after that a bit, almost immediately bringing on another defender in Ike Opara for Feilhaber to help in the back. KC though almost made it four, although it was not without a bit of controversy. With the Revs pushing forward, Reis became more of a sweeper keeper. He was forced into a give away in his own end. On the giveaway though Reis went down in a pile and immediately waved to the bench. Geiger didn't stop play and Zusi dribbled in on goal. With a couple Revs players between him and the goal he tried to chip it, but hit the cross bar, the follow up header didn't go in either and Geiger blew the whistle to get Reis treatment for what appears to be a muscle tear. Farrell had to go in net for the Revs and they finished the game with 10 men as they exited the playoffs.

Wizards Man of the Match - Seth Sinovic
- There's a number of players I could choose from here, but I'll give it to Sinovic. He was solid on the left side all night and his goal was perfectly taken.

Honorable mention - Oriol Rosell, Aurelien Collin

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

1 comment:

Nathan Martin said...

Notable observations of lineups in 3 matches against Houston this year.

Feilhaber has played 0 minutes.

Opara and Peterson Joseph (partnered with Nagamura twice) started all 3 games.

Jacob Peterson started 2 and played in all 3 games.

See: active, buzzing players.

I'd expect Opara in for Collin (yellow card watch).

Perhaps one or more change among the teams most tired legs. CJ and Zusi have to be feeling all those knocks today.