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Sporting KC Defeat DC United 1-0; Clinch the Top Seed in the Eastern Conference! (Running Diary Edition)

Sporting KC completed their miraculous regular season turnaround with their 1-0 win over DC United Saturday night.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Sporting KC completed their miraculous regular season turnaround with their 1-0 win over DC United Saturday night. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
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Sporting Kansas City 1, D.C. United 0
October 22, 2011
RFK Stadium
Goal- Matt Besler 54'
Referee- Alex Prus
Announced Attendance- 15, 965

Post Match Coverage SKC finishes first in with 1-0 win over DC Besler goal gives SKC win, top spot in East Besler goal gives Sporting KC first in East
Soccer By Ives- KC clinch top seed in East with 1-0 win over DC United Sporting KC defense keeps Golden Boot hopeful De Rosario off the board

Well, it wasn't exactly pretty, but at the end of the night, one goal was enough for Sporting Kansas City, as they survived a last ditch effort from former Kansas City Wizard Josh Wolff to win 1-0 over DC United, and were able to claim first place in the Eastern Conference.

Matt Besler's strike in the 54 minute of play put Kansas City ahead in a back and forth match that could have been an entirely different result, if not for a number of great saves from Sporting KC MVP Jimmy Nielsen.

Wolff almost leveled the score in the second minute of stoppage time at the tail end of the match when his header from only yards away from Sporting KC's goal hit the crossbar, and went out of play.

After the miss, Sporting KC fans could breathe a sigh of relief as head referee Alex Prus called the end of the match, and Sporting Kansas City had finally completed their "from worst to first" story.

After the jump, you will find my running diary of Sporting KC's 1-0 win over DC, as well as lineups, my man of the match, and a misconduct summary.

Sporting KC have finished the regular season in first place. How sweet it is!


Well, I'm officially 0 for probably something around 80 on my lineup predictions this season. I had Davy Arnaud starting in place of Roger Espinoza, but as I mentioned in my match preview, I think Espinoza did a good job in the New York game, so it's not too surprising seeing him get the start.

It will be interesting to see how the match plays out with Dwayne De Rosario playing up top for DC United.

First Half

2nd minute- Julio Cesar with a nice sliding tackle to take possession away from Santion Quaranta. How many times this season have we seen Cesar make a great sliding tackle? He's a master of that art.

3rd minute- Seth Sinovic with a shot from just outside the box on the left side. Not enough power to actually threaten United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who easily falls on the ball.

4th minute- De Rosario with his first shot attempt of the match from the middle of the field, outside the penalty area. Much like Sinovic's shot, not enough power to actually cause Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen any trouble.

Nice floating pass from Kei Kamara on the right side of the pitch that curves right onto Omar Bravo, who can't quite time his shot, as he gets just enough on it for the ball to bounce out of play for a DC goal kick.

5th minute- Interesting stat just given by Sporting KC play-by-play announcer; tonight's match is Sporting KC defender Matt Besler's 22nd consecutive start for the club. Besler has been a machine this season.

8th minute- Kei Kamara's off balance shot from just outside the penalty box is wide right. Nice series of passing from Sporting KC.

10th minute- Kamara's shot from distance probably landed on the moon. Way off from Kei.

13th minute- DC United midfielder Clyde Simms goes down on the middle of the pitch. Not sure if it's a cramp, or not. Simms sporting the Brandon Jennings haircut. The Kid n' Play. Nice tribute to the early 90's. +12 cool points for Simms.

15th minute- Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin with a nice pass over the top of the DC defense. Kamara is able to connect on a header, but his shot is quite a bit off to the right of goal. Hamid pulls the ball in.

16th minute- Teal Bunbury with his first shot of the night, but it's blocked by United defender Brandon McDonald. Sporting KC retain possession, and eventually play works it's way back to Bunbury who passes to Graham Zusi inside the box. Graham's shot is on target, but as the theme has gone thus far tonight, not enough power to actually challenge Hamid.

17th minute- Simms officially subbed out of the match by United coach, Ben Olsen. Austin da Luz will come into the game.

Zusi with his first free kick of the evening. The ball connects with Collin, but he's only able to head the ball up in the air. Hamid and Kamara both go up for the ball, with Hamid able to come down with possession.

21st minute- DC midfielder Andy Najar called offside for the second time in the match.

22nd minute- Zusi with his patented blast from deep. Plenty of power behind his shot but off target.

Announced that Simms suffered a concussion in the match.

23rd minute- Collin with a nice job of heading a DC lob pass into Sporting KC's box. DC will be rewarded with their first corner of the night. De Rosario looked dangerous on the pass that Collin headed away.

Somehow De Rosario is able to sneak through the Sporting KC defense and is able to attempt a shot from the Quaranta corner kick. His shot is right of goal, but still, a great opportunity for DC. Sporting KC has to make sure De Rosario doesn't get another chance like that.

25th minute- Sporting KC awarded their first corner of the match. Graham Zusi's cross was blocked by Daniel Woolard.

Zusi's subsequent corner kick connects with Kamara, but it's directed right at Hamid.

26th minute- Roger Espinoza is given a yellow card for grabbing De Rosario's arm, denying him the ability to advance DC's attack.

28th minute- Cesar with two consecutive slide tackles that dispossess De Rosario on a threatening DC attack. Great defensive work from Julio.

31st minute- De Rosario barely misses on an attempt to lob a ball over Nielsen and into goal. Just a little bit too much on the lob, as the ball barely goes over goal. Very nice play from De Rosario.

34th minute- Couple dangerous possessions for Sporting KC. Sinovic makes a dangerous pass to Bravo inside the box but it's just slightly behind Omar, and deflected out of bounds by United defender Ethan White for a Sporting KC corner kick.

38th minute- Jimmy Nielsen once again proving why he's Sporting KC's MVP in 2011. De Rosario with a nice through ball to DC midfielder Stephen King, who's able to beat Kamara to the ball and fire a shot towards goal. Nielsen able to come off of his line, and make a sliding save. Sporting KC defender Chance Myers is then able to clear the ball out of Sporting KC territory.

How many times have we seen Jimmy come through with great saves like that?

40th minute- The White Puma is at it again! Quaranta with a powerful shot that Jimmy is able to deflect but not possess. De Rosario attempts to shoot the ball over Nielsen, but his shot goes over the top of goal.

42nd minute- DC looking very dangerous at the moment. Najar is able to link up with da Luz, who's able to fire a left footed shot at Nielsen. Jimmy deflects the shot out of Sporting KC's box.

45th minute- Collin's header from a Zusi corner is off target to the right.

1st half quick thoughts

  • Teal Bunbury has been nearly invisible in the first half. It's why I continue to call him Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hoping Teal can turn it on in the second half.
  • Zusi showing why there's been talk of a possible USMNT call up. He's made multiple dangerous corner kicks in the first half, and as always, he's shown his tremendous work rate.
  • Jimmy's bailed out the team on a couple of occasions in the first half. Some great work from Nielsen.
  • Sporting KC's looked pretty good at points in the first half, but DC were able to grab momentum as the match closed in on halftime.

2nd Half

46th minute- Davy Arnaud is subbed into the match for Roger Espinoza. Woolard out for Marc Burch.

50th minute- De Rosario free kick dangerous, but wide right.

51st minute- De Rosario once again threatening with a back heeled shot that goes left of Sporting KC's goal.

54th minute- GOALLLLL! Matt Besler!!!! Zusi's corner is headed towards goal by Kamara. His shot hits the right post, where after a short tussle, Matt Besler collects the ball, dribbles a few feet backwards, turns around and fires a shot past the left side of Hamid. Sporting KC lead 1-0! It's Besler's second goal of the season.

59th minute- Najar fires a low shot from long range. Nielsen easily makes the save.

Matt Besler currently down. Doesn't look to serious, as he's helped up.

66th minute- Looks like CJ Sapong will be coming into the match. Whether he comes in for Bravo, or for Bunbury, I'm not sure.

68th minute- And CJ is on for Teal Bunbury. A down night for Teal, in my opinion. Let's see if Sapong can continue his outstanding play this season.

73rd minute- Kamara header off a Zusi corner ends up going over the top of DC's goal.

75th minute- Former Kansas City Wizard Josh Wolff comes into the match for author Stephen King.

76th minute- Kamara goes down in DC's penalty box. Looks to be incidental contact from Burch. No penatly given to Sporting KC, and it's the right call.

77th minute- Another impressive outing for Zusi. Some very nice pases, some very nice set pieces from Graham tonight.

78th minute- Najar has been dangerous for match of the match.

81st minute- Very good job from Besler to stop a dangerous De Rosario attack in Sporting KC's box. Besler able to knock the ball away from De Rosario for a DC United corner kick.

88th minute- Sapong almost collects his 6th goal of the season as his left footed attempt is wide of Hamid's goal.

90th minute- Time winding down here.. just moments away from finishing first in the Eastern Conference. Looks like Lawrence Olum might be coming into the game. Two minutes of stoppage time called.

90+1 DC doing everything they can to score a late equalizer.

90+2- And Josh Wolff almost levels the score at one a piece when his header bangs off of the crossbar!

And that's it! Sporting Kansas City have finished first in the Eastern Conference! What a turn around!

Man of the Match
For me, it has to be Jimmy Nielsen. He bailed Sporting KC out with a few great saves throughout the game.

Lineups and Misconduct Review via

Sporting KC -- Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara, Roger Espinoza (Davy Arnaud 46), Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar, Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Harrington, Lawrence Olum, Jeferson, Soony Saad, Eric Kronberg.

D.C. United -- Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Ethan White, Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard (Marc Burch 46), Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Clyde Simms (Austin Da Luz 17), Stephen King (Josh Wolff 75), Dwayne De Rosario, Santino Quaranta.
Substitutes Not Used: Blake Brettschneider, Charlie Davies, Joseph Ngwenya, Joe Willis.

Misconduct Review

KC -- Roger Espinoza (caution; Tactical Foul) 26
DC -- Perry Kitchen (caution; Reckless Tackle) 34