C.J. Sapong and Teal Bunbury both scored goals for Sporting KC against New York yesterday. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, Kansas City, KS
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Down the Byline- We're InThe Full 90- Sporting KC dominate Red Bulls, clinches playoff spot
MLSsoccer.com- Sporting skip the drama, go straight for playoff dirtThe Frontmen- Playoffs; Welcome back, KC!
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The Oz Blog- SKC/NYRB Man of the Match
In possibly the biggest regular season match in club history, Sporting Kansas City were able to dominate the New York Red Bulls, winning 2-0 via goals from Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong. The victory clinched a playoff spot for Sporting KC, who will now prepare for the final match of the season, against D.C. United this coming Saturday.
Teal Bunbury found the back of the net in the 57th minute after a Graham Zusi corner ping-ponged inside the box, first off of Matt Besler, and then off of Stephen Keel, who was unable to make a clean clearance. Sporting KC defender Julio Cesar was then able to head the ball to a wide open Bunbury who fired a one-touch shot past Red Bulls' goalkeeper Frank Rost.
It was Bunbury's ninth goal of the season.C.J. Sapong notched his fifth goal of the season in the 74' minute of play, mere seconds after being substituted into the match for Omar Bravo.
The goal was once again set up from a Zusi corner kick. Sporting KC defender Matt Besler was able to head the ball towards the goal, where Sapong was then able to make a sliding shot past Rost.
Sporting KC were no doubt helped in their quest for a playoff spot in the 27th minute of play, when New York Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry was ejected from the match after he kneed Roger Espinoza in the head while Espinoza was on the ground.
The ejection would set the tone for the rest of the game, as Sporting Kansas City were able to dominate much of the match as New York played a man down.
The match started out at a frantic pace as Sporting KC were able to create a number of scoring oppurtunities within the first minutes of the game.
Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin almost scored a goal off of a header from an Omar Bravo lob pass only seconds into the match. Collin's aim was off, however, and the shot was left of goal.
The third minute of play saw Sporting Kansas City forward Kei Kamara make a wonderful cross into the box towards the far post of New York's goal. Omar Bravo barely mistimed his sliding finish a few yards from goal. Had Bravo gotten a clean shot at the ball, it would have put Kansas City up 1-0.
Collin would miss once again in the 6th minute of play, when his header from a Graham Zusi corner kick once again went wide of goal.
In the 11th minute of play Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who before the match was named the team's MVP, showed exactly why everyone in Kansas City holds him in such high regard. New York Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere was able to pass the ball across the front of goal, where Luke Rodgers completely whiffed on a shot that would have no doubt leveled the match at one a piece. The ball continued on to a wide open Dane Richards*, who blasted a shot from inside the box. Nielsen was able to make a leaping save of the rocket shot.
It's the type of play Nielsen has made numerous times this season, and more proof as to why he deserved the team MVP award in 2011.
*Can I nominate Richards for a Razzy for worst acting performance, after he crawled back onto the field of play so he could act injured to waste time off of the clock late in the first half? Such a horrible job of acting. Might as well had Keanu Reeves in a Red Bulls jersey trying to act injured.
Teal Bunbury had a few golden opportunities to score earlier in the match, the first coming in the 34' minute of play. Bunbury fired a blast from the edge of New York's box that barely missed the crossbar.
A minute later Zusi made a nice one touch pass to Bunbury who fired wide right.
Teal missed another chance to give Sporting KC the lead a little before halftime when Zusi was able to feed him the ball with another nice pass, this time from the right side of play. And once again, Bunbury's shot was off to the right of goal.
It looked to be another one of those nights for Bunbury, but then again, I suppose we should all know better, shouldn't we? We've seen Teal's play fluctuate from game to game, even half to half sometimes, and this match would be no different.
His goal in the 57th minute was his ninth of the season, tying him with both Bravo and Kamara for the team lead.
I know I've complained about Teal a ton this season, but if an inconsistent Bunbury is still going to net nine goals, I love the future for the guy as he matures, and develops his game. Imagine what the kid will be able to do when he gets a little older, and a little bit more experience under his belt.
I still think his nickname should be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, though.
The win clinched a playoff spot for Sporting Kansas City, one of three Eastern Conference teams who have already punched their tickets to the postseason (Philadelphia, and Columbus are in as well).
With Kansas City owning the tie breaker with any team that can equal them in points after the final game of the regular season, if Sporting KC can win against D.C. United on Saturday, they'll be able to win the Eastern Conference.
Anyone else think Peter Vermes will have his team playing balls to the wall on Saturday?
A few notes from the match;
- Sapong has to be the front runner for Rookie of the Year, doesn't he? Who else is in the conversation? Will Bruin of the Houston Dynamo? Perry Kitchen of D.C. United? I'll take C.J.'s five goals, and five assists, thank you.
- How uninterested did Rafa Marquez look through the course of that game? It will be interesting to see what New York does after the season to resolve the Marquez drama.
- It was hard for me to pick a man of the match for this one, but if I had to choose, I'd probably go with Matt Besler. I just thought he was very good in the middle of the Sporting KC defense (I know what you're asking; when isn't he very good, Justin?), and he notched an assist on the Sapong goal.
Lineups (via MLSsoccer.com)
New York Red Bulls -- Frank Rost, Jan Gunnar Solli, Stephen Keel, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dane Richards, Teemu Tainio (Mehdi Ballouchy 83), Rafael Marquez (Stephane Auvray 83), Joel Lindpere, Luke Rodgers (Juan Agudelo 70), Thierry Henry.
Sporting KC -- Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara (Soony Saad 89), Roger Espinoza (Davy Arnaud 55), Julio Cesar, Graham Zusi, Omar Bravo (C.J. Sapong 73), Teal Bunbury.
Who was your Man of the Match against the Red Bulls?
Teal Bunbury (0 votes)
C.J. Sapong (0 votes)
Graham Zusi (4 votes)
Chance Myers (1 vote)
Jimmy Nielsen (3 votes)
Matt Besler (1 vote)
other (0 votes)
9 total votes