RSL looked nothing like a team that hadn’t won in more than a month. With Will Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, and Javier Morales all back in the starting lineup, the Claret-and-Cobalt controlled the tempo from the outset en route to a dominating 3-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal matchup at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.
Sporting’s directive heading into the first game of a home-and-home series against Colorado in the Eastern Conference semifinals is a simple one: Get through the first 45 minutes of the game, which will be played Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, without falling behind. Period.
Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes wrapped up his team’s brief workout on Saturday by lobbing snow balls at his staff before the team boarded the bus and left Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the rearview mirror. It’s a simple plan for the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Colorado Rapids: stay cool, have fun and get out of town with a smile.
Go ahead, ask Peter Vermes about the glory days. Then listen as Sporting Kansas City’s coach — whose team is set to open the Eastern Conference semifinals tonight in Colorado — invariably starts talking about the 2000 Wizards.
So MLS' first wild card round is in the books, and it was every bit as randomized and arbitrary as we thought. FCD's impressive 34-game bandage job was torn asunder in the span of 98 minutes (yes, eight minutes of stoppage time) by the 10th-best team in MLS.
After sampling six SBI MLS writers, the Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake are the three prime candidates to lift the MLS Cup trophy at the Home Depot Center on Nov. 20. The Galaxy received the most votes to win it all (three), followed by the Sounders (two) and RSL (one). Four writers picked Sporting Kansas City to finish as the other finalist, while Houston and Philadelphia received single nods apiece to reach the final.
Peter Vermes and his men have already put together a memorable season, charging from the league-worst hole they occupied in June to top spot in the East on the strength of their beautiful new Livestrong Sporting Park home, and making lots of new fans along the way. Now, with the momentum of a five-game winning streak, they have a chance to achieve something special – but it will require cool heads and clutch performances from a young team, starting against defending champions Colorado Rapids at the mile-high elevation of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Sunday night (7:30 pm ET; FOX Soccer, TSN2; live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
The Colorado Rapids' hopes of becoming the third team in MLS's 16-year history to win back-to-back titles remain alive thanks to a 1-0 win over Columbus on an Omar Cummings goal in Thursday’s wild-card game.
Jay Demerit: “Not really, because if I was a person who reflected a lot instead of moving forward then these types of things would have never happened. I think at some point I would have gotten comfortable and said ‘this is good enough, I cant believe I’m here’. I suppose because I’m not that type of person, the next step was always possible. I think that in itself says something.”
“I think certainly Houston is probably coming in here as the favorites,” Union defender Danny Califf told MLSsoccer.com. “We’re playing that underdog role and that’s good for us.” That might sound like a strange statement considering the fact that just one point separated the two teams in the Eastern Conference standings. Also, the Union have the edge in the four all-time matches played between the two sides, going an undefeated 2-0-2.