Sunday, July 22, 2018

MLS Cup bound Sporting KC wins Eastern Conference Final – quotes

November 23, 2013 by  
Filed under MLS, US Soccer

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Houston Dynamo 

Sporting Kansas City advanced to MLS Cup 2013 with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night at Sporting Park. In front of 21,650 fans, the largest crowd in Sporting Park history, Sporting KC advanced to their third MLS Cup Final and first since 2004.

Sporting KC will host MLS Cup on Dec. 7 against the winner of Sunday night’s Western Conference Championship match between the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN. Real Salt Lake enters Sunday night’s second leg at JELD-Wen Field with a 4-2 lead in the series on aggregate.

In front of the 35th consecutive sell-out for an MLS match at Sporting Park, the Houston Dynamo momentarily silenced the record-setting crowd with a goal in the third minute. After the ball ping-ponged around the Sporting KC penalty box, Boniek Garcia received a Brad Davis header and maneuvered around a defender before putting a shot on target. The Honduran international’s attempt deflected off center back Matt Besler and trickled past Jimmy Nielsen to put the visitors ahead.

Sporting KC wasted little time responding. The equalizer nearly came in the eighth minute when Benny Feilhaber played a sublime long ball to a streaking Chance Myers. The veteran right back reached the ball before it crossed the endline and found Dom Dwyer inside the six-yard box. Dynamo center back Eric Brunner came sliding in and nicked the ball away before Dwyer could get a clean touch.

It was only six minutes later before Sporting KC found their equalizer. Feilhaber picked up the ball and attempted to zig-zag around two defenders, but Garcia stepped in to knock the ball away. Dynamo center back Bobby Boswell reached out his leg to clear the ball but kicked it directly into the path of C.J. Sapong, who one-timed his shot past an out-stretched Tally Hall. Sporting KC are now 17-0-2 in MLS competition when Sapong has scored.

Sporting KC continued to press in the second half and found the eventual game-winner in the 63rd minute with Feilhaber again in the thick of the action. The 28-year-old midfielder picked up a Graham Zusi pass, charged toward the Dynamo penalty box and slipped a ball between two defenders to Dom Dwyer. The second year striker calmly pushed the ball around a sliding Corey Ashe and slotted it to the near post past Hall.

Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made one save on the night and it came in the 80th minute. Kofi Sarkodie’s cross skipped through the Sporting KC penalty box and rolled out to an on-rushing Corey Ashe. Nielsen knocked down Ashe’s laser attempt and pounced on the loose ball before Ashe could reach the rebound.

Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes

Thoughts on the win…

It seems like it always come down to not a battle but a war. I think as far as this series, we deserved it. We played smart and I think we showed real maturity. Three years ago, I think we were very new to this when we played them in the same situation. We were very new, in everything. I even think our fans were new to it. There was a lot of apprehension that year, but I think this year was very different. I think the players understood the task at hand. Even though they scored early, we never panicked. 

On what an MLS Cup berth means to club…

I’m extremely pleased that we’re able to provide this to our ownership group and to our fans. I say that because our ownership has committed not only significant funds to make sure that we’re successful, but they’ve bought into this in every single way possible. They’re all here at the game. They’re at everything and it shows the players how committed they are. Also, when you look at the fans tonight, we have another record. They keep coming and now the opportunity to have the MLS Cup here is tremendous.

On overcoming Houston and making it to the MLS Cup Final…

Everybody has talked about how Houston has been that thorn in our side, and I didn’t necessarily buy into that. You could say the same thing for L.A. if you wanted. Everybody has that hurdle that they have to get over and we’re a very young team. And to accomplish this with such a young maturity level on our team is fantastic.

On Benny Feilhaber’s performance and his assist…

I said to him that that was why we brought him here. His ability to open up a defense is exactly what we were looking for. It was a great ball and at the same time it was very intuitive for Dom to be able to read the situation and the have the calmness to just slip it in. It was a big time final pass, but at the same time the finish was excellent.

On beating the Dynamo…

It was great that we were able to finish them off here. It wasn’t a happy situation two years ago when they hoisted the Eastern Conference Championship here. That’s something that has stuck with all of our team, but as I said, we have the utmost respect for them as an opponent.

On the strategy of protecting a lead late…

We are normally not a bunker in team. We’re a team that just goes and tries to play and manage the game not necessarily what the result is, but what’s in front of us. But I think our recognition of the game has become much better in when we should try to counter quickly and when we should try to keep the ball in possession.

On the team’s success when C.J. Sapong scores…

I didn’t know that stat (Sporting KC is 17-0-2 when C.J. Sapong scores) but I’m going to tell him to score in the next game so that we can win that one as well. The thing I would say about C.J. is that he has not figured out how dominant he is. He doesn’t realize how strong, how powerful he is. But when he’s making the kind of runs he was tonight in the box, it’s the reason why he can score. When he’s busy like that, that’s when he’s dangerous. 

On the importance of the second goal…

I think it was very important and the great thing is that we had two other chances that were really good after that. Whenever you get into halftime and you’re even or ahead, it’s a very good place to be as a team so it was great. It was just great to see that we were hungry for more and we kept creating chances after.

Houston Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear

General thoughts on the game…

It was a tough game. We knew it was going to be close. It was a tough one, but congratulations to Kansas City. They’ll host the final which I think is a good thing for the MLS.

On how hard the loss is considering Houston’s past in the playoffs…

It’s hard. A lot of things kind of went against us this last month or so I think. We knew it was going to be tough, but I think it’s a better question for the players who put their heart and soul into this. But from a coaching staff point of view, I’m very proud of the team and what we’ve done this year. Walking of the field the last time as a competitive group is awfully hard, but I don’t think they can second guess their effort or determination.

On how the game changed after Sporting KC equalized…

It really didn’t. It was 1-1 at halftime so it was a fair game for everybody involved. Obviously the complexion of the game changed because it went from us winning to being tied so that’s the obvious answer. I don’t think it was that huge of a swing in momentum. They did have chances. Sapong had a chance and Cam Weaver had a good chance as well so I think this had a one-goal game written all over it and Kansas City was the one that got that second goal.

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