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Sporting KC top Revs in overtime, book place in East final vs. Dynamo

Claudio Bieler


KANSAS CITY, Kansas — In an intense, physical affair, Sporting Kansas City overcame a one-goal deficit from the first leg of their conference semifinal with the New England Revolution to force extra time at Sporting Park.

Claudio Bieler, playing his first match in more than a month, came on as a sub in the 84th minute and scored in the second half of extra time for a 4-3 win on aggregate.

Defenders Aurelien Collin and Seth Sinovic (who spent the 2010 season with New England) scored for Sporting KC in regulation sandwiched around a goal by Dimitry Imbongo for New England.

Former Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber gave a lot of credit for Sporting’s performance to the return of Paulo Nagamura. Nagamura had not played since a 3-0 win on Sept. 7 against Columbus.

“He was unbelievable,” Feilhaber said of Nagamura. “It’s like you said: he hasn’t played in over two months. And he tells us during the game, me and Uri (Oriol Rosell), ‘Guys, I don’t know if I have much left,’ but it never seems like he quits, never seems like he stops, even when he’s tired. He just keeps going. He’s got, you know, big heart and he was huge for us.”

Sporting KC dominated possession in the first half, controlling the ball for 71.4 percent of the first 45 minutes. This was helped by the poor passing of the Revolution, who completed only 58.7 percent of their passes in the opening period.

The Revolution were much better in the second half and extra time, completing almost 75 percent of their passes, and that resulted in raising their possession percentage to just over 43 percent.

Collin opened the scoring in the 41st minute. Defender Chance Myers put a long ball into the penalty area from the right wing. Dom Dwyer got a head to it and it deflected off of Revolution defender Andrew Farrell. After the deflection, if fell directly to Collin, who buried it past Matt Reis.

Imbongo equalized on the night and restored New England’s series lead in the 70th minute on an assist from Kelyn Rowe. Rowe had a free kick from about 35 yards out on the right wing. Imbongo caught it on the volley with a sideways scissor kick and put it past goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. Even if Nielsen had caught it, it would have been a goal as Nielsen had fallen backward into the net.

Sinovic equalized the series again in the 79th minute. Collin lofted a long ball forward from just the other side of midfield. Just outside the penalty area, Graham Zusi flicked a header backwards to Sinovic, who dribbled forward a couple yards and fired a laser to the far post past Reis. It was his second ever postseason goal, the first coming in the second leg of ta playoff loss to Houston in 2012.

It was also one Sinovic seemed to know was coming. In the locker room after the game, Nielsen said he asked Sinovic just before practice on Tuesday, “Is it not time for you to score again?” Sinovic’s response? “It’ll come tomorrow.”

Bieler scored in the 113th minute to win the series on an assist from Feilhaber. Reis had thrown an outlet intended for Diego Fagundez, but Feilhaber read it well and intercepted the ball. Feilhaber drove to the right side of the penalty area, where he crossed it to Bieler, who simply redirected it into the net past Reis. It was Bieler’s first goal from the run of play since July 13 against Toronto.

Sporting KC now advances to the Eastern Conference final where they will take on the Houston Dynamo for the third consecutive postseason. The first leg will take place at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The return leg, thanks to the international break, will take place at Sporting Park on Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m.


    • D mid spot is rather thick for kc. They can play Uri, Nags, or Larry O. All three are capable of starting on any team in the league. Nags won’t be around long if he doesn’t re-negotiate for lower money. Lopez might be able to get time next year, if not in KC but in Orlando. Zusi will be gone for the World Cup, so there is time a possibility there.

      • Possibly, but if the league changes schedule next year to accommodate the WC, then Zusi’s absence is largely irrelevant.

        Still, I suspect Nags will leave after the season. Perhaps Benny as well. That will open up spaces in the MF, as I think Vermes prefers Zusi on the forward line.

  1. it will be interesting to see what kind of legs these guys are going to have come game 2…

    I have to say, as much a Houston seems to have some kind of voodoo death grip on finding a way through the playoffs, I really like SKC’s chances, mainly because they have been finding a way to get the goals from folks other than their “expected” goalscorers. Having a threat at every position, and players who feel confident that they can act on an opportunity rather than waiting for one of four guys to make the breakthrough, is the stuff of champions.

    I say this with all the respect in the world for Houston. Massive talent. Massive clutch.

    • I am truly scared. Houston is our kryptonite. Tactically their bunker & counter style confounds us and negates the high-pressure we love to play. And they refuse to either beat themselves or miss the chances they’re given.

      They’re a team built for playoff soccer. Where I’d say SKC is built for the haul of the season. Still, we need to flip the script. And if not this time, when?

  2. Exciting match to watch as a neutral. I thought that the Revs were way too casual with the ball. Needless turnovers by trying to do something special instead of keeping it simple. I know that this is part of their DNA and what makes them so fun to watch, but you can’t be trying backheels and rabonas in a 2nd leg on the road.

    Full credit to SKC for their win despite Dwyer and Sapong missing several great chances. I thought that Collin did a nice job of playing under control and keeping his composure. Sweet goal by Sinovic.

    • Reis was out of his mind. He played amazing, there were a number of times I thought our boys in light blue had broken through and he made the save. Terrible to suffer an injury after a game like that. As an SKC fan, he made last night very trying, but as an ex goalkeeper, he was amazing

      • Indeed, as another member of the union, it was an amazing effort by Reis. And despite being for SKC, full props to the man, and if anyone deserved MoM, it was him.

  3. How great did Feilhaber have to feel after that final assist. Thrown away by the Revs in the offseason only to make the interception and assist that knocks them out. I get the feeling he may be the most excited about the victory last night

      • Its also easy to forget that in the Montreal expansion, SKC didn’t protect Seth, was drafted by Montreal, and Sporting traded their then captain, Davy Arnaud, and allocation money for Seth.

        Thank God for Sinovic.

      • Sinovic is one of the most underrated defenders in MLS. Steady every game, and then he has moments like last night.

  4. Conspiracy theory: While searching for the Revs game on XFINITY last night, I came across an MLS playoff listing on this coming weekend for an Eastern Conf. Final game between Houston and KC, complete with team logos. This was about 5 min into the NY/Houston game and 45 min or so before the NE/KC game. Weird

  5. Any word on Reis? Looked like ACL.

    Also, wtf was Zusi doing on that play? I really wanted to see a replay – it looked like he missed a wide open net but someone else was saying he did it intentionally because Reis was down. I think he just missed.

    • I thought ACL too.

      As for Zusi, I couldn’t tell you, he was all over the place last night for me. Great and terrible all in the same game.

      • Zusi was in pretty bad form last night. I completely believe he tried to hit the goal, but like everything else he did last night, was off the mark.

        Whatever happened to Reis, wasn’t pretty. Hope it wasn’t ACL, he was stellar last night.

      • He didn’t play well first half, but was in another gear after for the last 60 mins of the 120, was surging past defenders. He played well, all in all.

      • I pulled a quad playing on turf a couple years ago and it bothered me for 7 months… granted, I’m no professional athlete, but that injury stinks. A torn quad… ouch

  6. “Graham Zusi flicked a header backwards to Sinovic, who dribbled forward a couple yards and fired a laser to the far post past Reis. ”

    Sinovic hit is first touch, Alan

      • I don’t know what to think, just because I want to believe we can’t lose three times in a row right?……..right?…..

      • ha, one would think, but its Dynamo, cant bet against them in playoffs.

        I don’t know how long Nagamura can go with only 2 days rest after he just played 90 plus yesterday. He is key in mid, puts Uri in his best spot, and allows Benny to play in the mid and Zusi to play wing. Running Zusi and Benny against Dynamo midfield, isn’t good for SKC, on the road, imo.

    • But look, the Dynamo get a home game again, where they will happily put 11 guys in front of their net since their legs are falling off.

      Sets up the Dynamo special – bunker the away leg and wait for a mistake. Although I don’t think Besler and Collin will gift them multiple goals like the Red Bulls.

      This series is going to be ugly, given SKC’s thug ball and Houston’s lack of players with functioning legs.

      • It will be Houston’s 7th game in 21 days including road trips to Panama, DC, and New York. I just hope the guys have enough energy to run for 90 minutes. Any goals would be a bonus.

      • How dare a team play high-pressure and encourage its team to stay compact, instead of bunkering in their own half and parking the bus. Sure, this is a professional league, so they don’t GIFT the other team chances. But that’s not ‘thug ball.’ There’s nothing like Olave’s intent-to-injure tackles. Even from Collin. After having lived in Colorado for years and watching their anti-football, it’s refreshing to see a side committed to going forward and creating chances.

        Frankly, I enjoy watching SKC play. If only they could finish half the chances they create…or even 1/4.

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