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Dwyer and Sapong lead Sporting KC past Dynamo to advance to MLS Cup final

DomDwyerCelebratesSportingKC1-HoustonDynamoMLSPlayoffs (USATodaySports)


Not even the frigid cold air in Kansas City on Saturday evening could turn down the heat inside Sporting Park.

Behind goals from once-reserve forwards C.J. Sapong and Dom Dwyer, Sporting Kansas City erased an early deficit to defeat the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, in the second leg of the Eastern Conference finals, advancing to the MLS Cup final for the first time since 2004.

With the win, Sporting KC ensures that the league’s annual championship game will be played at Sporting Park.

“I think as far as this series, we deserved it,” Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes said following the match. “We played smart and I think we showed real maturity. Even though they scored early, we never panicked.”

Following a scoreless draw in the first leg two weeks ago, both teams returned to the field in wintry conditions in Kansas City, Kan., with the game time temperature just 22 degrees. The Dynamo traveled without starters Will Bruin and Ricardo Clark due to injuries, while Paulo Nagamura started his third-straight game, allowing Benny Feilhaber to move forward.

Sporting KC began the match with a nightmare start, as shades of the last two years’ playoff disappointments began to creep in as early as the third minute. After a failed clearance from Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin, Dynamo captain Brad Davis headed the ball to his right to Oscar Boniek Garcia. The Honduran international calmly made one defender miss before striking a shot that took a deflection and scurried in Jimmy Nielsen’s goal, giving the visitors a shocking 1-0 lead.

“One of the things we talked about (before the match) was playing under pressure,” Davis said. “They pressure high and fast, so we had to break their first level of pressure. When we did that we had a few chances.”

It didn’t take very long for Sporting KC to respond to the adversity though. Dwyer, who was all over the park all evening, had a couple of chances in the first 10 minutes, but like the first goal in the match, it was a mistake in the defensive third that lead to the game-tying goal.

A turnover by the Dynamo ended up at the feet of Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber, whose through ball was deflected by the foot of Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell. Luckily for Sporting KC, the deflection went straight into the path of Sapong on the right side of the box, who finished past the diving Tally Hall in the 14th minute.

“It was great because of the type of goal it was,” Sapong said. “It was one of those goals where (I was) focusing on staying alert and following the play, the ball finally took a bounce in my direction and I was able to put it in.”

The fast pace of the match continued on the hard surface as both teams had chances to take the lead before the end of the half. The Dynamo’s best chance came in the 30th minute when a marauding run from Corey Ashe ended up at the foot of reserve forward Cam Weaver, but the veteran’s shot flew well over the bar.

In the second half, Sporting KC came out with more energy, led by the constant running of Dwyer up top and even Feilhaber dropping back to defend at times.

Those two combined for the play of the game in the 63rd minute as Feilhaber played a beautifully weighted chip pass into the path of Dwyer, who took a touch, feinted past a defender, and calmly slotted home to complete the comeback.

“Benny just chipped the ball through and I don’t know if I just didn’t want to shoot with my right or what it was, but I kind of just didn’t think about it and touched it across,” Dwyer said. “Peter said to me on Friday that you don’t have to hit the top corner, just hit the net. Obviously, that’s in the back of my head and I just finished it off.”

Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear, knowing his side had less than 30 minutes to find an equalizer, tried to improve his chances by bringing on Omar Cummings, Servando Carrasco, and even Jason Johnson to snag a goal, but even with the changes the Dynamo looked to run out of steam. The lively crowd at Sporting Park gave the home side a boost, and they ran out the clock on the Dynamo’s two-year run as Eastern Conference champions.

“I said last game was the loudest I have ever heard it,” Sapong said about the atmosphere at Sporting Park. “This game, by far, was definitely the loudest this stadium has ever been. It’s amazing just looking into the crowd and seeing everybody’s faces. It brings you an extra bit of energy and motivation.”

Kansas City will host MLS Cup on Dec. 7. The Portland Timbers host Real Salt Lake in the second leg of the Western Conference final on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. RSL won the first leg 4-2.


  1. Weaver’s sitter in the 30th minute just landed this morning.

    Nice to see Vermes stay in character to the very end, jawing at the fourth official as time expired.

    Count me among those who find it silly to award a trophy to the conference playoff champions. It’s unnecessary and only further reduces the value of the regular season.

  2. I’m glad SKC won because they’re a better team this year than Houston and their fans are so great. Houston had the first round given to them by New York on errors and weren’t a true Eastern Conference finalist caliber. The MLS Cup between SKC and either of the Western teams should be really exciting.

    • you must be retard!!!! NY lost fair in square. when you make errors like they did you don’t deserve to win. Good teams capitalize on other teams errors. I could say SKC isnt a MLS cup caliber team because of the error by Boswel to not clear the ball in the box. Or the error by weaver to miss a wide open net.. If Boswell clears the ball and Weaver makes the shot the dynamo would be in the MLS cup…
      I love reading all the HAters on the dynamo…

      • empty seats? Over 2000 fans had SRO tickets, and they were standing. I didn’t see an empty seat anywhere.

        what meds did you forget to take when you watched the game, Ken?

  3. To me the best playoff format would be top of the table of each conference gets seeded for their respective conference finals and 2nd and 3rd battle it out in a one game playoff played at the 2nd plane stadium. This ensures supporter shield doesn’t exit early teams battle every week to get to second or third and their is a clear benefit for finishing high on the table.

  4. Hello? Hello? Anyone seen the people who insist that we adopt the European schedule? 22 degrees F and it is not even winter. BTW, we don’t have the heated fields of Europe either.

    • This playoff schedule is a mess. We might as well just go to a winter schedule.

      Something like August – Nov. Take a break for the Holidays and January. Crank it up again in Feb and go Feb-May. Warm weather and dome teams at home for feb-march. That can’t be any worse than this awful playoff schedule. What a snoozer end to the season.

      • Sounds great! Cold climate teams get to play for weeks away from home and then swap and the warm weather teams get the weeks of away games. Meanwhile, across the pond…Germany looks at going back to the extended winter break.

  5. What do you guys think of Grant Wahl’s playoff idea?

    4 teams from each conference in group play with two winners going through to single elimination games played at the club with the best record during reg season home. Just like the World Cup.

  6. Just watched the game. Feilhaber was the MOM, absolutely on fire in the second half. Responsible for creating and blocking and he rose up, and defended hard core as well. I haven’t seen him play such a complete game in years.

    He was definitely losing his $h!t by the end of it though, I cn tell it must be he’d issues, not skills, tht he has been benched in the past. There is no reason at tht time in the game to be screaming At the ref when you are winning and in the final, and getting thrown out could ruin everything. I be the is definitely a unique personality to know.

      • Wow. Lots of typos, lol…. Head issues, not skill issues or he’d issues. The one person who reads this, you get my drift. : )

    • I’ve always been a fan of Benny but ever since he came to MLS he seems like hes had some attitude issues. Hopefully he settles down and just continues to let his play do the talking because I think he and Zusi are extremely dangerous while on the field together.

  7. Congratz KC, well deserived!

    Wish they wouldn’t do the Eastern Conference Champion thing tho… That was clearly won by NY a month ago.. Colorado didn’t even play in the Eastern Conference in 2010 but we have a trophy that says we were the EC champion that year! –something isnt right here..

    Glad to see them in the final! Skc is a great team with some serious attacking options and an awesome home field advantage! Look out RSL or Portland.

  8. First of all congrats to skc for winning the east conference, not only the team but the fans for proving from the haters wrong that MLS soccer can make it in the winter and succeed. The fans deserve heated seats now and expansion cities should learn from their fans, stadium dimensions and ownership.
    For all those teams with bad owners or halfass owners, this is what you get when your owner works together and commits to soccer.
    But one thing MLS should pay attention to, is the awkward trophy presentation of the conference.
    To be honest, I do love the MLS playoffs but why have conferences playoffs.
    How about MLS awards the trophy conference to the team with the MOST POINTS in their conference, since it’s a long season, besides the supporter shield.
    Then you award the conference winner a direct spot in the final four or semi final spot for the MLS Cup playoffs.
    You also make the playoff games, knock out games in order to make the season important and interesting. You will get higher ratings, pack stadiums and high intensity games.
    For example, once the league reaches 20 teams and even better 24, this is the way to go, in order to reward for the long season.
    Like for this season, red bull and timbers would be their conference champion and have a direct semi final spot or final four, besides having the supporters shield.
    That would be real playoffs and with knock out games, it would be crazy intense.
    By the way, hopefully teams learn from skc and take their team to their level or even better, like crew, dc, revolution, fc Dallas, chivas USA.

    • I see the flaws with the current play off system but I also understand it.

      I think a lot of it comes from having such a big country. In order to place such a heavy emphasis on finishing atop the table, the league would have to be perfectly balanced and thats just not gonna happen with the size of the league. Its easier in a country like England where you can have 4 stadiums within a 20 mile radius, but when you have teams traveling from Vancouver/Seattle to Orlando and eventually Miami, then that creates a bit of a problem.

      Also, I absolutely agree that SKC has set the bar.

      Chivas is a disaster and just needs to go away. DC and NE being two of the oldest teams in the league have no excuse to not be in a SSS by now. NE playing at Gilette is an embarrassment to the league.

      I think the Crew have the right idea and have decent fans, but need better ownership. Same goes for FC Dallas. They both have a lot going for them, they just need to make some changes to keep moving in a positive direction.

      • That is why, once MLS reaches 22, then 24 with a balanced schedule, go for the playoff I’m suggesting, similar to the nfl, which would make MLS better.
        Remember top team of the season, in their conference, will win their conference and have a direct semifinal spot or final four spot.
        It’s a long season and MLS needs to award the conferences just like I said.
        Another thing I noticed, if all stadiums were like skc sporting park or similar in dimensions, MLS would not have trouble in going to the FIFA calendar. It has a very good roof cover, the seats are aligned very good and I guess it does have a heated pitch right.
        MLS team need to learn from skc, and if your team needs a roof cover, then get it, if u need a heated pitch then get it, if you need a mini SSS retractable roof, then get it.
        MLS owners need to spend in I order to succeed and make the league better and recruit top players.
        Like fc Dallas, get a roof cover, more like an upgrade from left to right.
        MLS stadiums, don’t have stages, do it like skc sport in park.
        Dynamo, go full roof,not stage roof style.
        Union, what happen to your real stadium design.
        Galaxy stadium, needs a Hollywood stadium, which is suppose to be fancy.
        Seattle oh boy, you would be amazing with a soccer stadium with real soccer dimensions , like bayern Munich. Steal the new Liverpool stadium design that won’t happen for them, amazing stadium.
        Rio tinto would be hell, if they had a real roof and a little skc upgrade.
        Timbers, their stadium has everything going but maybe expansion would be the next step.
        Dc, revolution, chivas USA, earthquakes, your stadium better be good.
        Toronto fc stadium, needs a 360 update.
        Vancouver, water front stadium mmmmm
        Rapids, finish ur stadium 🙂 just fc Dallas
        Crew can be the next skc with stadium new owner
        Orlando seems very determined and mysterious, might sound South American style inside their stadium.
        Chicago, upgrade your stadium, soldier field style.

      • Rapids play in a finished stadium. And for a guy so hot to applaud a city for supporting soccer even in wintery conditions, you seem to have completely missed a much better example of that played precisely in the Rapids’ stadium just this year.

      • Except for the roof aspect and the fact all the Colorado fans were covered with snow. But even as an SKC fan his post seemed a little too gushy lol

      • learn from kc?
        you mean having yourteam being one game from the finals ad having lots of empty seats?
        yes, more teams should do that.

        there will not be a mad rush to roofed stadiums and while you might coveniently forget that fact and the existence of teams where its actually colder than missouri, those teams that have something called snow arent going o disappear.

        the winter schedule has nothing to with whats good for the players, the fans or the game ( which was just horrible for the half that i watched), its ALL about making money for a few teams that want to sell their best players to europe.
        yet lemmings keep repeating that schedule thing as if it would benefit players, fans or game.

        torontos stadium is 6-7 yrs od and you want it redone?
        mst be nice to live in aworld were money grws on trees.

      • @Ted: Empty seats? I was at the game, and there were no empty seats. SKC has sold-out 35 games in a row. Not sure which game you were watching, but not the game I was at, and definitily not SKC.

  9. Props to Sporting. Seemed like they were waiting to put it all together all year and they did it tonight. Remarkable run over the last few years.

  10. I love the dynamo, but the game wasn’t played well, they missed Clark a lot in the midfield. I never felt like we had a chance even after our early goal. We need a serious upgrade at forward. We made a good run but we were definitely outplayed by skc. Hats of to them. I hope they win it all after Colin gets hurt lol


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