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Bunbury Scores a Brace: Sporting KC Win First Leg 2-0 Over the Colorado Rapids

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Sporting Kansas City
2, Colorado Rapids 0

October 30th, 2011
Dick's Sporting Goods Park- Commerce, CO
Announced Attendance-  8,601
Goals- Teal Bunbury 49', 59' (PK)
Referee- Baldomero Toledo

Sporting Kansas City's performance in their 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids might be best described as a tale of two halves. After coming out somewhat flat for much of the first forty five minutes, Sporting KC were able to find their groove in the second, with a pair of goals from forward Teal Bunbury. 

Bunbury's brace, combined with the loss of a number of key Colorado players due to injury (Drew Moor, Caleb Folan, and Kosuke Kimura) and a Tyrone Marshall red card paved the way for a two goal aggregate lead for Sporting KC heading into the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal to be played at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park this Wednesday. 

Bunbury was able to score his 10th goal of the season in the 49th minute of play when Julio Cesar played a wonderful through ball to Bunbury, who found himself with a clear path to goal. Bunbury was able to score the goal past Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens, and break a 0-0 deadlock. 

In the 57th minute Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi made a nice pass to Bunbury in the Rapids' penalty box, where Colorado defender Tyrone Marshall was essentially forced to take Bunbury down and concede a penalty kick to prevent Teal from notching his second goal of the night. 

Marshall was subsequently given a straight red card for the tackle, and ejected from the match, forcing the Rapids to play a man down the rest of the way. 

Somewhat surprisingly, Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes called on Bunbury to take the resulting penalty kick (my guess would have been on Kei Kamara taking it). Bunbury easily slotted the kick in the bottom left corner of the goal, giving Sporting KC a 2-0 lead that they wouldn't relinquish. 

Many were shocked when the starting lineups were announced to find out that left winger Omar Bravo was not in Sporting KC's starting XI. It was later reported that Bravo had suffered a quad strain in practice the day before, and that Vermes had decided that Bravo should sit the match if at all possible. Rookie CJ Sapong started in his place.

The first half was marred with inconsistent play, as Sporting KC looked slightly disjointed for much of that time. In fact, despite what the FOX Soccer commentators thought, I felt that the Rapids were actually the overall better team in the first half. 

It was a chippy match throughout, but none more than when Kei Kamara and Miguel Comminges were involved in a scuffle in the 23rd minute. It appeared that Matt Pickens didn't take kindly to a screen set by Sapong on a Graham Zusi corner kick. Pickens had a few choice words for the rookie after the play, and a few seconds later we saw Kamara taking a swipe at Comminges. Kamara was probably lucky not to be given at least a yellow card during the fracas.  

Colorado Rapids head coach Gary Smith was forced to use two substitutions in the first half of play due to injuries (Caleb Folan, Kimura) that would force him to change his strategy going into the second half. When Marshall was ejected in the second half for his tackle on Bunbury, and then defender Drew Moor came out of the game with a shoulder injury, the Rapids didn't have much of a chance to pull any closer to Sporting KC. 

The two teams will play the second leg of the semifinals this coming Wednesday (Nov. 2). If Sporting KC can just break even in that match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, than the they'll be headed to the Eastern Conference finals against either Houston, or Philadelphia (Houston currently lead Philadelphia 2-1 after their win earlier today).

 

Man of the Match
For me, it has to be Bunbury, who broke the deadlock in the 49th minute with a nice finish past Pickens. He also drew, and converted the penalty kick that gave him his 11th goal of the season. Let's hope Teal can carry tonight's performance into the second leg of the semifinals. 

 

Notes

  • Jimmy Nielsen wore the captain's armband for Sporting KC in the absence of Omar Bravo. 
  • I counted only two Roger Espinoza flops tonight. He's improving! 
  • It was quite entertaining listening to the announcers trying to pronounce Seth Sinovic's name correctly. 
  • Bunbury almost had a hat trick tonight. In the 45th minute he one touched a Graham Zusi low cross that hit the near post of Colorado's goal. 
  • The first half stats of both teams were almost identical: Passing accuracy- SKC (66%) COL (67%)  Possession- SKC (49%) COL (51%) Shots on goal- SKC (0) COL (0). 
  • However, Sporting KC doubled Colorado in fouls (8 fouls to COL 4)
  • Nielsen once again came up big for Sporting KC, this time in the 76th minute when Macoumba Kandji was able to outrun Julio Cesar, who slipped, leaving Kandji with a one-on-one opportunity against Nielsen. As we've seen many of times this season, Nielsen was able to make a great save and deny Kandji the goal. 

 

Lineups (via MLSsoccer.com)

Sporting KC -- Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Julio Cesar (Jeferson 78), Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara (Soony Saad 89), Aurelien Collin, C.J. Sapong, Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, Teal Bunbury (Davy Arnaud 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Omar Bravo, Michael Harrington, Lawrence Olum, Eric Kronberg.

Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura (Tyrone Marshall 36), Drew Moor (Scott Palguta 60), Marvell Wynne, Miguel Comminges, Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson, Sanna Nyassi, Omar Cummings, Caleb Folan (Macoumba Kandji 23).
Substitutes Not Used: Andre Akpan, Joseph Nane, Ross LaBauex, Steward Ceus.

 

Misconduct Summary
KC -- Teal Bunbury (caution; Reckless Foul) 47+
COL -- Tyrone Marshall (ejection; Denied Goal Scoring Opportunity (Foul)) 57
COL -- Sanna Nyassi (caution; Reckless Tackle) 63