Decision Day was everything MLS wanted it to be. It was a wild evening that saw Sporting KC actually below the red line at one point, before coming through when it mattered to defeat a great LA Galaxy side.
The home team controlled possession and moved the ball around nicely to open the match. In the 10' minute Chance Myers sent in a beautiful ball for Dom Dwyer over the top. The center forward's pressure caused Ricketts to cough it up once before finally gathering it in to end the threat.
In the 20' minute Giovanni Dos Santos took the ball down the left wing and sent in a very dangerous cross. If not for Graham Zusi tracking back like a mad man to break it up, there were two white shirts waiting to easily slot the ball home. The pressure continued after the ensuing corner kick that eventually ended with Dos Santos firing a bullet just over the cross bar.
But Sporting KC would threaten at the other end of the pitch a few minutes later in the 24'. Soni Mustivar had a huge interception 40 yards out and then drew a foul. Zusi curled in a beauty that found Chance Myers on the back post. The right back was only able to get his head to it for a glancing blow and the ball bounced just wide. KC would then find their best chance of the half just a minute later as Nemeth connected with Dom right in front of goal, but his sliding attempt was deflected away by Ricketts.
The breakthrough for the good guys finally came in the 38' minute. The LA defense desperately cleared the ball away from Nemeth for a throw in. Then, of course, the Captain came trotting up the pitch to take the ball on the side line. He launched in that powerful throw to be flicked on by Saud Abdul Salaam on the near post. After bouncing around the box, Chance Myers fired it through traffic and Ellis cleaned up the mess for a Sporting KC lead.
However, the visitors were relentless to close out the half. In the 44' Steven Gerard received a pass with acres of space around him and a wide open goal. The 6 million dollar man sent the ball right into Melia, but the threat was not yet over. Dos Santos played in a through ball for Robbie Keane who put a clever touch on the ball dinking it passed Melia and into the net.
Both goals of the half appeared to be offside, so both teams had to just bite that bullet. Despite the equal score line, Sporting Kansas City went into the locker rooms holding the 6th and final playoff spot with 45 minutes left in the season.
Peter Vermes brought in Benny Feilhaber at halftime for Jordi Quintilla, who had a pretty quiet first half. But the youngster did well to wear down the Galaxy, especially Gerrard.
After the break, the game was wide open with end to end action. The teams were flying forward and trading chances in the opening 15 minutes. Just when it looked like one team was going to find the go ahead, the other would threaten with a flurry of attacks.
After failing to fire off a shot on a pass from Feilhaber minutes before, Dwyer would get another fantastic ball in the 65' minute from KC's number 10. This time it came to his left foot. This time the net bulged. Sporting had the lead at 2-1.
Sporting Park then turned back into The Blue Hell with the smell of playoffs in the air. Feeling the environment, the team found some confidence. Nemeth received the ball at the corner of the box and let one rip from 30 yards out forcing a great save from Ricketts. On the ensuing corner, it was Nemeth again with a glancing header that slid just past the far post. But SKC was in control.
The go ahead goal from Dwyer would stand. Sporting KC held off all the firepower from LA to secure the three points, and their spot in the post season.
Phew... that was close. But anything can happen now.
The draw puts them at 51 points on the season. Although level with LA and Seattle, KC goes to 6th place after the tiebreakers. This gives them a good matchup against the third seeded Timbers in a one off knockout game on Thursday, October 29th in Portland.