Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JAY BELL
A stoppage time-goal on Saturday lifted Sporting Kansas City to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union and gave Sporting KC the chance to win the Supporters Shield.
The Union needed a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, but Sporting KC were still able to get the best of the chances early. Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes opted to leave both forward Claudio Bieler and midfielder Benny Feilhaber on the bench for the entire game.
Graham Zusi put the visitors on top just 92 seconds into the second half off of a long throw by teammate Matt Besler. Lawrence Olum rose to flick Besler’s long throw from the right side to the back corner of the box. Zusi got free of his marker and headed the ball in past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath for a 1-0 lead.
Forwards Jack McInerney, Sebastien Le Toux and midfielder Roger Torres all began the crucial game on the bench for Philadelphia, but were substituted into the game in the second half as the Union tried to fight their way back into the game. Le Toux nearly found an equalizer on a volley in the 72nd minute, just two minutes after entering.
McInerney saw his only chance in the 76th minute when a deflection off of a corner kick fell to him in the middle of the box, but a glancing shot headed off of the line. The young forward gave Philadelphia some hope in the 88th minute when Jeff Parke headed a ball back into the box and behind the defense. McInerney tucked the ball into the corner of the net to make it 1-1.
A flick by Zusi sprung Teal Bunbury 45 seconds into stoppage time. Bunbury found Jacob Peterson for a shot on goal, but MacMath made the save and kept the Union in the game. A punt by Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made its way to the opposite right corner and the Sporting KC attackers surged forward to outnumber the Union defense. Bunbury worked hard to win the ball back and found Olum open for the game-winner.
The win gives Sporting KC 58 points for the regular season. Only the New York Red Bulls (56) are still within striking distance for the Supporters Shield. A loss or draw by the Red Bulls will give the Kansas City club its first Supporters Shield since 2000. Sporting KC have finished atop the Eastern Conference in the first two seasons since rebranding.
The loss eliminated the Union from playoff contention. Head coach John Hackworth’s side will miss the playoffs for the second straight year. The team has made the playoffs just once in its first four seasons in MLS.
I’m with you.
No ss for Portland or NY, if Colorado wins tomorrow OP is the coach of the year
Not really, Porter won the West and Colorado will host Seattle in the play-in game. Porter gets it easy.
I’m confused by this line: “McInerney saw his only chance in the 76th minute…” At the end of the paragraph, it sounds a lot like he scored a goal in the 88th minute.
Philly real is a sub-par side, aren’t they?
Along with most of the East. Philly played very well to start the season but the goals dried up and the rest of the mediocre East caught up to them and passed them. Montreal needed a result against Toronto to clinch but couldn’t get it, now they are waiting to see if the teams below them can get a result to knock Montreal out. Houston needs a win against DCU, New England needs a win against Columbus, and Chicago needs a draw against NYRB. Poor Chicago is the only team in the race not playing an eliminated team this week. The question for the final week is who can get a result against a bad team?
Really? I haven’t seen the East having trouble getting results against the West like in past seasons. So the whole “inferior conference” thing is a dead meme. DC is a disaster, but so is Chivas.
The East is 10 pts from 1st to 6th. The East is 6. Both are 12 pts to the 1st team clearly out of contention. So neither is markedly superior this year.
*The West is 6
they are. They’re also a young and therefore inconsistent team. The first Hal of the season was dominated by Jack Mcinerney and the attack. The second half was dominated by Zac MacMath and the defense. Both are highly promising players with potential national team futures but they’re also young and haven’t been able to put a whole season together. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hackworth is gone or stays but they are developing young players well.