November 2, 2011
Restarts help Sporting punch finals ticket
By Sports Network
Two goals from set pieces helped Sporting Kansas City claim a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on a rainy Wednesday night at Livestrong Sporting Park.
With an aggregate score of 4-0, Sporting advances to Sunday's Eastern Conference Final where it will host either the Houston Dynamo or the Philadelphia Union.
Graham Zusi provided the assist on both goals, sending set pieces into the box with Aurelien Collin and C.J. Sapong tracking down the deliveries to hand Sporting a comfortable win.
Collin got Sporting off the mark in the 28th minute as he made his way through the box unmarked. Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens came rushing off his line, but the Sporting defender reached the ball first, skimming a header into the empty net.
With Colorado already trailing on aggregate by three goals, Sapong added insult to injury by connecting on a Zusi free kick with a brilliant snap header in the 76th minute. The rookie powered his header over Pickens to seal the result and send Sporting through to the next round.
As the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, Sporting knows it will host Sunday's Conference Final. But with Houston and Philadelphia squaring off on Thursday, its opponent has yet to be determined. Houston holds a one-goal advantage with the match being played at Robertson Stadium.
Colorado, reigning MLS Cup champion, ends its season in disappointing fashion.
Not only was head coach Gary Smith without Conor Casey for much of the season after the star striker sustained an Achilles injury, but he also had to cope with the playoff losses of Caleb Folan, Jamie Smith, Kosuke Kimura, and Drew Moor. Midfield general Pablo Mastroeni was also unavailable for Wednesday night's match, still recovering from a concussion.