Skip to content

Sporting Kansas City punches ticket for MLS Cup; downs Houston in Eastern Conference final

Nov 23, 2013, 9:49 PM EDT

.

Sporting Kansas City is going to its third MLS Cup final – and hosting its first, as MLS Cup 2013 will be played at Sporting Park on Dec. 7.

Sporting KC got there on a frigid Saturday night with a 2-1 win over Houston in the second leg of the teams’ home-and-away aggregate goals Eastern Conference finals series. The team’s had played to a scoreless draw in the opening leg in Houston.

Benny Feilhaber, Kansas City’s former U.S. international midfield playmaker, had been rather quiet in that first contest. But he was huge in Saturday’s return leg, with an imprint on Kansas City’s first goal and a beautiful assist on Dom Dwyer’s 63rd-minute game-winner.

Fans inside the packed house at Sporting Park will certainly remember Saturday’s match for the tough conditions, the coldest temperatures ever recorded in MLS.

Temperature at kickoff was 22 degrees; the league began keeping records of weather conditions in 2003. MLS executive vice president of communications Dan Courtemanche said before the contest that he believed Saturday’s match was indeed the coldest ever (regular season or playoff) going all the way back to the league’s 1996 launch.

With Saturday’s loss, the Houston Dynamo missed a bid to play in a third consecutive MLS Cup and a fifth final in eight years. Rather, Sporting Kansas City will participate in its third MLS Cup match, but its first since losing to D.C. United in 2004. Kansas City won MLS Cup in its only other championship game appearance, in 2000 (playing then as the Kansas City Wizards).

(MORE: Sporting Kansas City Man of the Match, Dom Dwyer)

Houston was up against long odds in this one even before kickoff – and it had nothing to do with the record-setting weather. Former U.S. international midfielder Ricardo Clark, probably the most important Dynamo man other than U.S. international Brad Davis and possibly goalkeeper Tally Hall, was held out because of a knee injury collected in the opening leg. Although Clark had not trained during the two-week break, he had never officially been ruled out.

Houston was also without Will Bruin, its starting striker and a fringe U.S. national teamer.

As a result of Clark’s absence, Houston manager Dominic Kinnear pulled his team from its typical 4-4-2, re-aligning the side into a far less familiar 4-3-3 look.

(MORE: What we learned in Kansas City’s big win)

The danger of another 0-0 stalemate (like the first leg) disappeared almost immediately as Houston’s Honduran international attacker Boniek Garcia finished an early surge with a shot that deflected into Kansas City goal after just three minutes.

Houston’s early goal was classic counter attacking stuff, as Feilhaber tripped over the ball while entering Houston’s defensive third. Houston’s Davis immediately set the visitors’ counter-attack into motion, with Andrew Driver soon beating Kansas City right back Chance Myers.

Eleven minutes later C.J. Sapong pounced first and with ferocity as a ball popped loose just inside Houston’s penalty area. Collecting the ball off a Dynamo tackle as a surging Feilhaber was stripped of possession, Sapong beat Tally Hall to the far post in the 14th minute.

Missed chances on either side marked much of the match, with Dwyer and Sapong failing from inside the six-yard box for KC, and Cam Weaver going well high on an uncontested shot from eight yards for Houston.

Feilhaber was front-and-center in events once again just after the hour mark, taking a pass from a galloping Graham Zusi and chipping a wonderful pass into stride for Dwyer for the game-winner.

(MORE: Save the date — MLS Cup will be at Sporting Park on Dec. 7)

Latest Posts
  1. Sepp Blatter refuses to quit as FIFA president despite plea from UEFA’s Michel Platini

    May 28, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT

    UEFA’s chief pleads with Blatter to walk away as world soccer’s governing body is in ruins.

  2. In historic first, FIFA 16 video game to feature women’s national teams, players

    May 28, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    (Photo Courtesy EA Sports) (Photo Courtesy EA Sports)

    PHOTOS & VIDEO: Women’s players are available in the FIFA video game series for the first time.

  3. Rafael Benitez confirms Napoli exit, expected to take charge of Real Madrid

    May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Rafael Benítez Rafael Benítez

    Former Valencia, Liverpool boss has called time in Naples as his hometown is calling.

  4. Russia, Vladimir Putin criticize US government for “illegal persecution” of FIFA

    May 28, 2015, 7:51 AM EDT

    Sepp Blatter, Vladimir Putin Sepp Blatter, Vladimir Putin

    The Russian president finds it “odd” that the FBI is chasing down FIFA officials…

  5. MLS Snapshot: LA Galaxy 1-0 Real Salt Lake

    May 28, 2015, 12:53 AM EDT

    Juninho, LA Galaxy Juninho, LA Galaxy

    Juninho’s early PK is all the Galaxy need, as they climb to 4th in the Western Conference. RSL, meanwhile, are on the outside looking in.

  6. US Open Cup 3rd round roundup: MLS teams learn 4th round opponents

    May 28, 2015, 12:43 AM EDT

    DC United v Real Salt Lake - 2013 U.S. Open Cup Final Getty Images

    17 MLS teams will entire this year’s US Open Cup in the 4th round. On Wednesday, they learned who they’ll face.

  7. MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 1-0 D.C. United

    May 28, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    Maximiliano Urruti, Portland Timbers Maximiliano Urruti, Portland Timbers

    Wins in May don’t get much more “must-win” than this one. PDX tops the East’s top team.

  8. Agent: Mario Balotelli “will definitely stay” at Liverpool despite disappointing first season

    May 27, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC

    According to his agent, Balotelli is going nowhere this summer. He’ll stay and fight for his place next season.

  9. FIFA ethics committee bans 11 current, former officials from all football-related activities

    May 27, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    11 current and former officials from around the world have been provisionally banned from all football-related activities.

  10. Men in Blazers podcast: Mourning the end of the season with The True Geordie

    May 27, 2015, 5:23 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Rog and Davo relive the Premier League’s season finale, including squeaky bum time at the bottom of the table.

  11. Sevilla defeat Dnipro, 3-2, to win back-to-back Europa League titles, Champions League place

    May 27, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

    Carlos Bacca, FC Sevilla Getty Images

    It was a thrilling Europa League final. Sevilla are back-to-back Europa League champions, and into next year’s Champions League.

  12. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten forwards

    May 27, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    Aguero Getty Images

    Sergio Aguero was the Premier League’s top goalscorer this season, but was he the best attacker in the league? He has plenty of competition.

  13. Dick Advocaat will not return to Sunderland next season

    May 27, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptlkzmrknjvjnguzzdq0mwrlzti5ztk2otdimda3njkx AP

    After leading the Black Cats to Premier League safety, “The Little General” has announced he won’t return to the Stadium of Light next season.

  14. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten midfielders

    May 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea FC Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea FC

    Goal scorers, goal creators, ball winners, possession destroyers — the list of top-10 midfielders has a little bit of everything.

  15. UEFA calls for postponement of FIFA presidential election, threatens to boycott congress

    May 27, 2015, 2:43 PM EDT

    Michel Platini AP

    “Today’s events are a disaster for FIFA and tarnish the image of football as a whole. “

  16. FIFA president Sepp Blatter releases first statement since overnight arrests

    May 27, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    ISRAEL-FBL-UEFA-EUR-SPORT Getty Images

    The most controversial figure in world soccer has broken his silence.

  17. Ashley Westwood says Arsenal will have “sleepless nights” over Christian Benteke

    May 27, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Everton- Premier League Getty Images

    If Aston Villa wants any shot at beating Arsenal in the FA Cup final this Saturday, Christian Benteke must come up big.

  18. Three things we learned from the US Department of Justice news conference on the FIFA investigation

    May 27, 2015, 1:06 PM EDT

    Loretta Lynch Loretta Lynch

    “This really is the World Cup of fraud, and today we are issuing FIFA a red card.”

  19. QPR is cleaning house: Barton, Ferdinand, Zamora all out at Loftus Road

    May 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Getty Images

    With the Hoops heading down to the Championship, Queens Park Rangers will have a completely new look next season.

  20. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten defenders

    May 27, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    150527-John-Terry Getty Images

    They say defense wins championships, so expect to see quite a bit of Chelsea blue on this list.

Featured video

Chelsea lift the 2014-15 PL trophy