Thursday, November 8, 2012

SEASON OVER: Sporting Kansas City wins, but doesn't make up goal differential to move on

Sporting Kansas City was eliminated from the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs on Wednesday, falling 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Seth Sinovic, a Leawood, Kan. native, scored his first career MLS goal in the 64th minute in front of 20,894 fans, the second-largest crowd in stadium history.

After a 2-0 loss on Sunday at Houston, Sporting Kansas City came out needing two goals to level the two-game series.

The home side’s first notable chance game in the 8th minute when Graham Zusi swung in a near-perfect ball to the unmarked Kei Kamara, but the Sierra Leone international’s header flashed just inches wide of the goal.

Five minutes later, Sporting KC’s tireless work rate continued when Chance Myers crossed in the ball from the right to Kamara, who headed the ball on target but safely into the hands of goalkeeper Tally Hall.

Sporting nearly went up a goal in the 19th minute when Roger Espinoza slotted in a low pass across goal to C.J. Sapong, who shot from 18 yards out but straight at Hall. Just seven minutes later, Myers played a through ball to Kamara, whose close-range shot was goal-bound but booted out in the box.

Houston attempted only three shots in the match, all in the first half, with their best look coming in the 45th minute of play when Will Bruin received a throw-in, turned and fired low from 25 yards just wide of the left post.

Despite Sporting Kansas City's relentless attack, the Dynamo defense held strong and the teams went into half time tied 0-0 with Sporting KC trailing 2-0 in aggregate.

The second half commenced with the same fervor as the first, with another chance for Sporting KC in the 47th minute when Myers directed a cross to Sapong.

The 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year sent a glancing header narrowly over the crossbar. Sporting KC nearly broke through in the 63rd minute when Peterson Joseph struck a shot from 15 yards, but it was just wide of the near post.

Sporting Kansas City’s playoff dreams were lifted one minute later when Kamara charged into the box and nodded the ball off to Zusi, who made a superb cross to Seth Sinovic at the far post.

Sinovic threw his body into the diving header for his first career goal in his 75th appearance in MLS competition (including playoffs).

Ten minutes later, Sapong nearly netted a second goal for the home side when he collected a well-placed cross from Kamara, but Sapong’s shot floated inches over the crossbar.

Sporting Kansas City would continue to send numbers forward in search of the series-tying goal to force extra time, concluding the game with 20 shots (second most in club history for the postseason) and 71 percent of the possession, but the final whistle blew after four minutes of stoppage time and Sporting Kansas City saw their season ended at home by the Dynamo for the second straight season.

Houston will advance to the Eastern Conference Championship to take on the winner between the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United, whose game was postponed on Wednesday due to inclement weather.