Sunday, December 8, 2013

MLS Cup champions Sporting KC prevail in 10-round penalty shootout after 1-1 draw

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Sporting Kansas City were crowned champions of Major League Soccer on Saturday with a penalty kick shootout following a 1-1 draw after extra time in MLS Cup 2013 at Sporting Park.

Aurelien Collin scored his third goal of this postseason in the 76th minute and scored the winning goal in the penalty shootout to secure the second league title in the team's 18-year history. Collin was named the Volkswagen MLS Cup 2013 MVP.

In front of 21,650 fans, the 36th consecutive sellout for an MLS match at Sporting Park, Sporting KC lifted the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy for the second time. With the win, Sporting KC has also secured a berth in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League for the second consecutive year.

Despite a scoreless first half, the first 45 minutes were not short on drama. Sporting KC was forced to use a sub early when Uri Rosell suffered a left ankle sprain. Lawrence Olum, who had not seen action since suffering a fractured fibula in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, replaced the Spanish midfielder.

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando made four saves on the day including two in the first half. In the 25th minute, Graham Zusi curled a ball to the back post. C.J. Sapong toed the backline and headed a ball to the near post. The U.S. MNT goalkeeper reacted quickly to punch the attempt away and keep the home side off the board.

Real Salt Lake had their first good opportunity of the day minutes later. Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen came off his line to punch a Chris Wingert cross into the air. The ball fell to Robbie Findley,  who one-timed the ball off the near post and into the arms of Nielsen.

Sporting KC's next opportunity came in first half stoppage time. Dom Dwyer beat the Salt Lake offside trap and found himself one-on-one with Rimando. The young striker took a touch off his chest, but Rimando came off his line to block the shot attempt.

In hostile conditions and amid the coldest recorded game in MLS history (20 degrees), Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio silenced the crowd in the 52nd minute. The Costa Rican international took a no-look pass from Kyle Beckerman and beat Nielsen to the near post for his first goal of the postseason.

Real Salt Lake had two more opportunities to double their lead. Beckerman hit a strike in the 62nd minute that hit off the far post and Morales beat Nielsen with a cheeky chip-shot in the 73rd minute but the ball hit off the far post and trickled across the goalmouth before rolling out of bounds.

Sporting KC found their equalizer in the 76th minute and it came from the team's leading goal-scorer in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs. Collin out-jumped Chris Schuler to head a Zusi corner kick to the far post past Rimando. The goal was Collin's third of the 2013 postseason, most among all MLS players.

As the game entered its first overtime, Rimando came up big again for Real Salt Lake. The 2013 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year runner-up reacted quickly to knock away a Zusi strike from 12 yards. After two scoreless 15-minute overtime periods, the match went to the first MLS Cup penalty kick shootout since Real Salt Lake defeated the LA Galaxy in 2009.

Sporting KC won MLS Cup 7-6 on penalty kicks after 10 rounds. Claudio Bieler, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber, Seth Sinovic, Sapong, Chance Myers and Collin tallied for the home side. Nielsen made two saves including a stop on Sebastian Velasquez in a sudden death ninth round. After Collin beat Rimando in the tenth round, Lovel Palmer hit his attempt off the crossbar to give Sporting KC the team's second MLS Cup championship.

A public celebration will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. CT on Monday in the Sprint Festival Plaza at Union Station (30 W Pershing Rd.) in Kansas City, MO. The special event is free and open to the public with parking available in the front lot or in the garage on the west side. Festivities will include a live DJ, complimentary Boulevard, player appearances and opportunities for fans to have their photo taken with the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy.

Official MLS Cup championship merchandise will be available at the event. Supporters can also buy long-sleeve Sporting KC championship shirts in the Sporting Style pop-up store inside the Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park from 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. CT beginning Monday, while supplies last. Additional commemorative items will arrive on Tuesday, including scarves, hats, women's and children's t-shirts.