Sporting Kansas City has officially finished on top of the Western Conference with their 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake. With the win, Sporting KC has the best point per game and will have home field advantage at least until MLS Cup. San Jose Earthquakes finished eighth and will be SKC’s first round opponent.
Two of SKC best scorers were out (Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda) and recent starter at left back the last few games Amadou Dia was also out forcing manager Peter Vermes to make use of his depth.
The biggest factor in the match was obviously the weather. It was cold and snowing before the match started and the snowfall just got heavier as the match went on.
Khiry Shelton started in place of Pulido up top and was the beneficiary of some lucky deflections. RSL rookie keeper David Ochoa deflected a shot to Ilie Sanchez. The SKC midfielder shot it back through traffic where it deflected off of an RSL player towards Shelton who may have gotten a little flick on the ball but definitely redirected it. The orange snowball caromed off another Salt Lake defender and into the goal. Shelton got the credit for the go-ahead goal right before the half.
With conditions continuing to deteriorate, Vermes brough on Erik Hurtado for the second half to replace Gerso. The move quickly paid off for the visitors when Jaylin Lindsey played one of the best balls of the difficult night up to Hurtado. The SKC forward was racing towards goal where Ochoa was coming out to the edge of the box.
Hurtado deftly touched it past the sliding Ochoa and then shot the ball at a narrow angle through the snow and defenders rushing back to double Sporting KC’s lead.
The snow continued to drop at a furious rate and both teams did well to play as effectively as they could with snow building up on the field. Sporting KC held on, limiting RSL chances at a comeback and locked up home field advantage.