Nights like tonight will be hard for players like Teal Bunbury to endure, but it should only inspire, and motivate Sporting KC even more going into future seasons. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Sporting Kansas City 0, Houston Dynamo 2
November 6, 2011
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park- Kansas City, KS
Goals- Andre Hainault 53', Carlo Costly 87'
Announced Attendance- 20,839
Referee- Mark Geiger
Post Game Coverage
Numb... that's really the only word I could find to explain just how I was feeling after Sunday night's match.
I apologize for not writing this review earlier, but I felt like I needed to take a few hours to let everything sink in. It took me a while to realize just what had happened. That Sporting Kansas City won't be playing in the MLS Cup Final. After this amazing season, the amazing turnaround, and how well the team was playing towards the end of the year and into the playoffs. In 90 minutes or so, it was all over.
That's the hardest part about these kinds of things. The sudden ending to such a great season, but with an ending I don't think any of us were expecting. It just doesn't seem like this was how the story was supposed to end for Sporting Kansas City. But, here we are, now one of the other sixteen teams on the outside looking in.
Tonight was a perfect demonstration of what the playoffs are all about. That everything a team had previously accomplished goes out the window, and that all it takes is one subpar game to end a season.
Let me say this; the Houston Dynamo were the better team tonight. I know some people were upset about some of the referring, especially the no-call on the Geoff Cameron take down of Teal Bunbury in the penalty box. It clearly was a penalty that probably would have put Sporting KC up 1-0, but you know what? It doesn't matter. Houston still deserved to win this match. They came out, and took it to Sporting KC in Sporting's home field, a place where many of us felt like the team was invincible.
At times, I felt like I wasn't even watching the same Sporting team that we've seen over the past couple of months. The defense was unusually disjointed tonight. We've become so accustomed to a solid backline, tonight was a punch in the mouth, as the defense was beaten on multiple occasions.
Graham Zusi, Sporting KC's play-making engine in the midfield, just seemed a little off. Rarely were there Sporting KC players on the end of crosses into the box. It just seemed like it all kinda went wrong tonight. That's just how these things go sometimes.
Look at the Seattle Sounders. They were the consensus second best team in Major League Soccer all of this year, and all it took was one bad game to end their season, and the career of Kasey Keller. Imagine if Seattle wouldn't have gotten thumped 3-0 in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against Real Salt Lake.
But all it takes is one game.
Which is why I should give more credit to a team like the Colorado Rapids, who last season, managed to run the playoff gauntlet and win a championship. For as much as I give them flack for not being the most talented team, there's something to be said for what they accomplished in 2010.
I know it may be hard to see now, but what happened tonight will be a positive for this team down the road. The one thing all of the analysts kept bringing up was the experience factor that favored Houston. The Dynamo played like those analysts knew what they were talking about. They played like the more experienced team, the team that had been through a high-pressure situation like this before. It may explain why Sporting KC came out and looked stiff out there. Maybe they felt the pressure, realizing that they were only one win away from the final.
The good news is that Sporting KC will learn from this defeat. Tonight they gained some of that experience factor that seems to matter so much in games like the one played tonight. Sporting KC will come back next season, motivated more than ever to reach the MLS Cup Final. This is a young team, with a great nucleus, and if the organization play their cards right, this club should be good for a very long time.
I have no doubts that Sporting KC will be playing in an MLS Cup Final soon enough. It just wasn't meant to be in 2011.
Lineups via MLSsoccer.com
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe, Danny Cruz, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo, Brad Davis (Jermaine Taylor 39), Brian Ching (Carlo Costly 78), Calen Carr (Will Bruin 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Dixon, Hunter Freeman, Je-Vaughn Watson, Tyler Deric.
Sporting KC -- Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic (Omar Bravo 85), Kei Kamara, Roger Espinoza (Davy Arnaud 75), Julio Cesar (Jeferson 82), Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, Teal Bunbury.
Substitutes Not Used: Birahim Diop, Michael Harrington, Soony Saad, Eric Kronberg.