After coming up on the wrong end of playoff outcomes against the Houston Dynamo in the previous two seasons, Sporting Kansas City turned the tables on their Eastern Conference foe and earned a trip to the MLS Cup in the process.
After falling behind by a goal early, Sporting netted the match's final two goals to earn a 2-1 win in the second match of their two-leg Eastern Conference Final at Sporting Park. The two played a scoreless draw in Houston in the first leg.
The energy at Sporting Park was fantastic. Of course, it was far too cold for fans to just sit quietly in their seats. This picture was taken a few hours before kickoff:
After the scoreless draw in the first leg of this playoff, it took only three minutes for Houston to get on the board. After some sloppy defense, Oscar Boniek Garcia took a headed pass by Brad Davis and drilled a right-footer from the center of the box into the bottom left corner.
The fast start for Houston did not destroy the confidence of Kansas City.
Sporting was aggressive playing in front of the energetic crowd, and it didn't take long for their effort to show up on the scoreboard. In the 14th minute, C.J. Sapong hit a right-footed shot from the right side of the box into the bottom left corner.
That concluded the scoring for the entertaining and evenly played first half. Kansas City executed slightly more control of the flow of the action in the first, but it was not a major advantage.
Sporting out shot Houston five to three in the first half and also enjoyed 56 percent of possession.
The second half began as the first one had ended. Both teams were playing quality soccer. Kansas City continued to fire off more shots, but wasn't exactly waiting for quality looks.
That all changed in the 63rd minute when Benny Feilhaber made a nifty move and scoop pass to get a through ball to Dominic Dwyer. Dwyer delivered the result the home fans were craving.
The 23-year-old netted the match's third and final goal.
Houston did what it could to answer, but it was to no avail. Kansas City's defense proved to be too strong. In the end, Houston wound up taking just four shots in the second half, and none was a serious threat to score.
As they bask in this win, Sporting will undoubtedly keep an eye on Sunday's Western Conference Final.
The first-seeded Portland Timbers will host second-seeded Real Salt Lake facing the task of overcoming a 4-2 deficit in aggregate.
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