Its been just over a week now and people are still celebrating Sporting's victory over the Houston Dynamo to finally advance to the MLS Cup, but surprisingly everybody also realizes that there is still one more game to play to put a cherry on top of the season that Sporting has had.
I would like to review the last game which was the second leg of the Conference Finals which even with the aggregate goal rule Sporting and Houston were level at 0-0 so the winner of this game would advance. This is probably the best place Sporting has been in the the three years (in a row) that Sporting has had to go up against the Dynamo. Now this match didn't start off the greatest seeing Houston being up 1-0 within the first three minutes, but there seemed to be a collective calmness about all the Sporting players and fans throughout as several players said that they still knew what they needed to do and I also wasn't nervous.
Sporting did exactly what they needed to with previous Rookie of the Year CJ Sapong (and Live Breathe Futbol supporter) getting a goal late in the first half getting a much needed goal to bring Sporting level with the Dynamo and Sporting immediately put the pressure back on the Dynamo to keep them from trying to get another goal as well before halftime. Dom Dwyer also was able to get on the board for Sporting later in the game put Sporting up 2-1. Obviously the Dynamo realized they needed to do a bit more to try and advance for a third straight year testing Sporting GK and captain Jimmy Nielsen's hand strength in the cold weather but he prevailed combined with Sporting looking to put the game away completely to advance, as they very rarely bunker in to hold a victory, but prevailed with a 2-1 victory and advance to the the MLS Cup for the first time as Sporting KC and first time as a franchise in almost a decade. That may sound bad but its not nearly as bad as some other other professional sports in the Kansas City area but who's paying that close of attention to that?
Comets started off about aas well as one team could hope for scoring two goals within the first two minutes. Additionally they were able to keep the Wave to scoring just one (3-point) goal, while being able to score another two goals in the dying minutes of the first quarter to finish it out 8-3.
For as well as the first quarter went for the Comets it was the reverse for them in the second quarter as they were unable to net a single goal even with a shootout that had a block and a missed rebound. The saving grace from this quarter is that they only allowed one goal as well and was able to finish the second quarter still ahead 8-5.
Quite the whirlwind of a quarter as the comets added back to their lead to start but then everything seemed to fall apart. But then they were able to regain some composure after some terrible penalties, that the wave mostly equaled, but towards the end things got bad again with some more penalties that then combined with the Wave finally finding a small groove allowed the Wave to come with in two points finishing the quarter 15-13.
Not a great start as the Wave was able to net another Goal in the first minute which tied up the game 15-15. Luckily they were able to pull themselves back together going up 21-15 before allowing the Wave to come back yet again and tie the game back up 21 a piece with about a minute and a half left in the game which ended that way which meant golden goal overtime.
Usually these overtimes in the MISL don't last very long especially with it being golden goal but this is the Wave vs Comets which has a very long history between each other with the Wave usually coming out on top lately and tonight wasn't any different as the Wave was able to net the game winner almost halfway through the overtime period. The Comets had several good chances throughout the entire game but just couldn't seem to finish. Combine that with some terrible retaliation during fouls being called and the Comets still have some work to do, but luckily it is just the first game of the season. Onto the next.
Sporting took on division foe Houston Dynamo for the first leg of this years conference finals marking it the third, straight, year. This time the first leg result was a more favorable result for the boys in blue as the last couple times Sporting has not been able to leave Houston with even a draw.
Sporting not playing the greatest match, being that it was scoreless draw, did what they needed to do and at least not lose the match. It now comes down to the home leg where all Sporting needs to do now is win the game, preferably in regular time, and they will be off to their first MLS Cup match in a very long time. Although not nearly as long as it has been for the Royals or Chiefs but who really pays attention to that kind of stuff?
Well Sporting needed to keep attacking, and scoring to win and be able to advance to the semi-finals and one step closer to the MLS Cup. They started out this game just trying to be relentless at scoring almost like they thought they only had 45 minutes to win the game. They had more than 10 shots on goal in the first half alone and most of those shots came from headers that were serviced into the box. The Revs GK in Matt Reis, who has always seemed liked a great guy, was lights out and stopped just about everything except for one shot. That one goal allowed Sporting to tie up the score on aggregate which would have sent the game into extra time. The second half started and the Revolution realized that they needed to provide even more pressure themselves and were eventually able to get another goal as well to re take the lead on aggregate but Sporting had also been playing their game and were able to get another beautiful goal then immediately turned around and almost got another but the Revs were able to hold on and send the game into extra time despite Sporting putting on a good effort until the dying minutes of the regulation game to win the series out right.
Extra time seemed to almost be a completely different game. The Revs had one good push in extra time that Jimmy was able to get a foot one that the defense was then able to push down the field and capitalize on to take the lead on aggregate score of 4-3. Well it didn't stop there as Sporting was smart to keep pushing and almost notched another late goal to seal it, but the Revs at that point had pretty much had it as their GK Reis had injured himself while coming out of the box to keep the ball from advancing further and made a really good effort to keep the ball from Sporting and drive it down the field but being on the older side of being a GK and not being in the best of shape having taken off like that he pulled a quad muscle, from what I'm told.
Sporting now move onto their playoff nemesis in the Houston Dynamo and one can only hope that third times (in a row) a charm and they will finally be able to knock out the Dynamo as well who just themselves knocked out the top seeded team in the NY Redbulls which would mean that if Sporting can win this series that the MLS Cup would be in Kansas City and against either the Portland Timbers or Real Salt Lake, which would either would be a really good match.
Well I know I've been slacking off this year especially towards the end of the season, but I have been keeping tabs of my team and figured I should get started posting again with the opening game of the playoffs. Not exactly the best game to get back to the whole writing thing, but not every game will always play out the way we would like. Now I've also been thinking about how I went about doing my post game reviews.
I don't want to say that Sporting lost this game thanks to the refs, but they sure didn't help matters. Sporting obviously can't rely on the refs and are expected to be able to win on their own. Sporting did what they needed to do, but just couldn't get the ball past the Revolution's GK in Matt Reis.
The Revolution on the other hand I believe won this game just from some good heads up and quick play, which is what Sporting normally does, but it seemed like Sporting was out of their element for a good portion of this game and almost seemed to be playing this game like it was a regular season match.
Luckily Sporting gets one more chance at their own stadium to move onto the Conference Final against either the NY Redbulls or the Houston Dynamo. They need to beat the Revs by at least one goal in order to send the game into extra time.
The human eye is great a picking up obstacles that are in front of us as we walk. Our eyes naturally look 3 to 5 feet in front of us as we are walking. That gives a person enough time to dodge an obstacle that might be in the way. Looking forward with our eyes up is a great thing! Yet, I am still very disturbed by football players who are very short sighted.
I watched an interview with a professional player who said, "I would rather have a hit too the head, than a hit too my legs." I just do not understand this point of view at all. This past weekend in the National Football League (NFL) games, there were several major injuries. Those injuries included a lot of knee injures and one serious spinal injury. Of these injuries, all of those who have knee injuries are expected to have surgery and return to playing football next year. But the player who had helmet to helmet contact and injured his spine, might never play again after spending time in the hospital.
If a player has an injured knee, shoulder, or ankle, they might miss some time from the game. A majority are not career ending or produce permanent damage to the body. Yet, the human brain is not repairable like a knee, shoulder, or ankle is. A doctor cannot just remove the good part of someone else's brain and transplant those section into your brain as a repair.
A person is gifted with only one trip around this planet, and yes playing in the NFL is a terrific gift. But a player had a life before football and will have a life after football, so why destroy something so valuable? The game of football was around before the players of today and will be around after the players of today have stopped playing. But those players and their families will have to deal with the consequences of their actions on the field. So please try and take care of what you have, because there will be a tomorrow after today.
**To the Ends of the Earth**
Well this was quite the thrilling game. Colorado definitely made it a challenge for Sporting constantly pushing which is something that Sporting isn't completely use to but I think they almost welcomed it. Even after the Rapids were able to pull level with Sporting they didn't seem to panic and continued to play their game. The Rapids didn't seem to know how to capitalize on the opportunity though and figure out how to pull ahead. It did seem that Peter Vermes coach for Sporting might have been a bit in panic mode or maybe he just wanted to insure his team came out on top as he put in three strong offensive players and substituted three strong offensive players. Feilhaber, Dwyer and Saad all came off for Kamara, Sapong and Bunbury who really seemed to make the difference in this game and allowed Sporting to get the late go ahead goal. Again Colorado just couldn't seem to figure out then how to get another equalizer and their frantic play and pressing up the field almost assured Sporting to get the victory even with an additional four minutes of stoppage time.
It really was a good game and unfortunately it was Kei's last game in a Sporting uniform as he was transferred to Middlesbrough FC which is a club in the Championship League which is a second tier team in European soccer. No its not top flight but it is still a step up for Kei and it will also make international travel for Sierra Leone national team games easier for him.
Sporting now takes on the Columbus Crew who is definitely a team that has been struggling but this is the MLS and you never know who might be able to sneak in a victory or find a way to lose a game.
Although it was late and I was very tired this was an interesting game to watch. What made it even better is that Sporting was able to secure yet another road victory, and shutout for that matter, to put themselves on top of their group with their final two group games being back at home. As one of the commentators pointed out though both the teams they have played are pretty much just getting their seasons started while Sporting is wrapping theirs up in a couple of months and their last two group games will most likely be a bit harder but with them being on top of the group with two wins they stand a good chance to move on already.
This game seemed to start off a bit rougher as Olimpia were pushing a bit harder then Real Esteli did in the previous match but in the 28th minute Sporting's up and coming star in Soony Saad was able to find the back of the next after passing a few defenders, while keeping possession of the ball, and slotting it right past the diving GK to put Sporting up 1-0. After that Olimpia just couldn't seem to completely get anything together with the exception of a couple drives that gave Sporting GK a little bit of a problem but nothing that came in the result for Olimpia. Dom Dwyer was able to give the defense some fits once he came into the game and was awarded a PK which Saad took and hit just hard enough that even the GK getting a hand to the ball wasn't enough to keep it from going in the goal and putting Sporting up 2-0 which would then hold till the final whistle.
Well I hate to say that I was afraid of this but really I was not. To be perfectly honest I didn't get to watch the entire game but did get to see the loan goal scored by what I described as a good heads up play by the Chicago Fire. Sporting was playing well but obviously not well enough to find the equalizer against the Fire. This now means that Sporting has lost 4 of the last 5 games with just 8 regular season games remaining not to mention a couple of CCL games as well. Hopefully they are getting their stumbling out of the way now so that they can hopefully be strong in the playoffs granted at this point they probably won't be the top seed, but I'm thinking they may not be worried about being the top seed but instead just want to make sure that they are solid and can preform.
To be quite honest I am not 100% sure what to think about this game. The homer in me wants Sporting to go in there and just smoke the ever living shorts off of the Fire, but the realist in me is trying to be a bit smarter about it. Sporting has been fortunate lately to be able to beat Chicago a few times recently but it is never a tough match. Something that I also fear is that Sporting hasn't had a complete meltdown lately like they kind of did last year against the Union where they lost 0-4. I'm sure that Sporting still has a sour taste in their mouth from the San Jose loss and are looking to get back on track and stay on top and for that I can see Sporting winning this game. Now I don't want to say a score because I'm rarely correct on that but it is sure to be a good game. I'd probably be closer to saying that this game won't finish with 11 men for each team on the field then trying to guess the score.