Sporting KC Finishes First in East with 2-1 Win over PhiladelphiaOctober 25, 2012 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Sporting Kansas City
Tickets for Sporting Kansas City's first home playoff match are available to purchase online at Tickemaster.com or at the LSP Box Offices.
Kei Kamara led the attack for Sporting Kansas City in the regular season finale on Wednesday, assisting on Jacob Peterson's opening goal in the 40th minute and again on C.J. Sapong's match-winner with less than 10 minutes remaining in the match. Jimmy Nielsen made two saves, including a stop on Michael Farfan's second-half penalty kick, to match the MLS record in the non-shootout era for wins in a season with 18.
Sporting Kansas City closed the record-setting 2012 regular season with 63 points, most in team history, and on a 12-game unbeaten run, second-best in club history. Should the team advance in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Championship, the team will be in position to host the 2012 MLS Cup if they play any team other than Supporters' Shield winners San Jose.
Sporting Kansas City started strong on Wednesday, beginning in the fourth minute when Kamara took full advantage of a free kick with a low shot that was just wide of the left post.
Ten minutes later, Seth Sinovic played a ball down the left flank to Sapong in the box. The 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year made a bold attempt to volley a shot past goalkeeper Zac MacMath, but fired wide of the near post.
Philadelphia had a chance of their own in the 36th minute when Gabriel Gomez floated a long ball to Jack McIerney. His chip caught Nielsen coming off his line but bounced narrowly wide of the target.
Sporting Kansas City were back on the attack in the 38th minute as Julio Cesar snapped in a perfect cross to Sapong. His first touch released a low, powerful shot that MacMath did well to block with his leg at the near post.
Two minutes later, Sporting Kansas City claimed their first goal of the evening when Sapong charged down the midfield and played the ball out wide to Kamara. The Sierra Leone international swung in a sharp cross to Peterson, who took one touch and blazed his shot past MacMath for his fourth goal of the season and first since returning from a shoulder injury.
Sporting Kansas City ended the half on a high note, nearly scoring a second goal two minutes into stoppage time. Graham Zusi's initial shot from 10 yards out was blocked by MacMath only to rebound back to Zusi. His follow-up effort was struck first-time but MacMath recovered to again turn away the attempt.
The second half began with no lack of excitement when Danny Cruz drew a penalty in the 53rd minute. Farfan took the penalty, only to be valiantly denied byNielsen. However, Antoine Hoppenot was the first to arrive for the rebound and buried his shot from close-range to deny Nielsen a record-tying 16th shutout in the regular season.
The Union were back at it again four minutes later when McInerney beat out Sporting Kansas City's backline and sent a looping header that struck the far right post. Moments later, Keon Daniel shook the woodwork again when he fired in a shot from the top of the box.
Sporting KC appeared to find their footing in the 67th minute when Zusi's free kick from 40 yards out sailed over the opposition and nearly slipped in past MacMath.
On the opposite end of the field, Hoppenot slid past Collin to go one-on-one with Nielsen, but the Goalkeeper of the Year candidate came off his line to make a dramatic save.
Sporting Kansas City secured the victory in the 83rd minute when Kamara danced through Philadelphia's defense and played a lovely through ball to Sapong on the right side of the penalty area. The second-year striker made no mistakewith his shot to score his ninth goal of the season.
Sporting Kansas City will play the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on the road on Nov. 3 or 4. The opponent, kick-off time and broadcast information for the series will be determined at a later date as Sporting Kansas City awaits the winner from the Eastern Conference KnockoutRound on Oct. 31.
* Sporting Kansas City finishes the 2012 regular season with an 18-7-9 record and in first place in the EasternConference with 63 points, most in team history. * The team's 18 wins in regulation are the most in club history and Sporting KC averaged 1.85 points per game in 2012. * It marks the second straight season Sporting Kansas City finished in first place in the Eastern Conference and the fifth time in club history to finish atop the conference (1997, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2012). * This season is the first time Sporting Kansas City has repeated as the conference's top team in back-to-back seasons. * With the win, Sporting Kansas City secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs and will have home field advantage through the Eastern Conference Championship. * Sporting Kansas City also secured the No. 2 overall seed in the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs. If Sporting Kansas City reaches the 2012 MLS Cup, they will have the right to host if the San Jose Earthquakes do not reach the final. * The 2003 MLS Cup (CHI vs SJ) was last time top two teams in regular season met in an MLS Cup final. * Sporting KC has the most wins (18) and best goal differential (+15) of all teams in the Eastern Conference this season. * Sporting Kansas City scored 42 goals this season and conceded 27. * Ten different Sporting Kansas City players scored for the club during the 2012 MLS regular season. * Sporting Kansas City scored 24 right-footed goals, four left-footed goals and 13 headers in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City allowed 14 right-footed goals, eight left-footed goals and five headers in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City scored two or more goals in 13 of the team's 34 games this season. * Sporting Kansas City allowed one or fewer goals in 28 of the team's 34 games this season. * C.J. Sapong notched the game-winner in the 82nd minute off an assist from Kei Kamrara. With the goal, Sapong has now scored nine goals this season, a career high for the second-year pro. * Sapong's goal was his fifth game-winning goal of the season, tying Preki's 1997 campaign for third most in a single season in club history. He ranks sixth on the MLS chart for game-winning goals in 2012. * Sapong scored the first and last goal of the 2012 regular season. He also scored the first and last goal of the 2011 MLS season (including playoffs). * Sapong scored in the regular season home finale in both 2011 and 2012. * Sporting Kansas City is 13-0-2 in MLS competition (including playoffs) when C.J. Sapong scores. * Sapong's goal was his 14th career regular season goal, tying for him for 10th most among college draft choices in their first two MLS seasons. He matches Teal Bunbury's goal count through two seasons and trails only Scott Sealy (19 goals from 2005-2006) among KC draft picks all-time. * Kei Kamara earned the game-winning assist on Sapong's goal, moving him into a tie for sixth place on Sporting KC's all-time chart with eight. * Jimmy Nielsen's victory was his 18th of the season, most in Major League Soccer this season. He ties Kasey Keller (2011), Donovan Ricketts (2010) and Pat Onstad(2005) for the most in a season in MLS history in the non-shootout era. * Jimmy Nielsen's 1.02 career goals against average is the best for a goalkeeper in MLS history with a minimum of 4,000 minutes played. * Nielsen's 1.02 career goals against average is the best mark for a Sporting KC goalkeeper all-time. * Nielsen has the best career winning percentage for a KC goalkeeper in club history (.565). * Peter Vermes' .545 career winning percentage is the best mark for a Sporting KC coach all-time (45-35-30). * Jimmy Nielsen played every minute in net for Sporting Kansas City in 2012 with a 0.79 goals against average for the season. Only one other goalkeeper in MLS history has played in 75% of their team's games in a season and kept a goals against average below 0.80. That was done by Nick Rimando with a 0.67 goals againstaverage in 2010. * Nielsen's 0.79 goals against average is the best mark by a goalkeeper in club history, breaking Tony Meola's mark in of 0.92 in 2000. * Only four other players -- three of whom were goalkeepers -- have played 3,060 minutes in a season in MLS history. * Nielsen set a club record for minutes played with 3,060, as well games started with 34. * Nielsen tied the Sporting KC club record for games played in a season with 34. * Nielsen recorded 77 saves in 2012. * Nielsen passed Bo Oshoniyi for second place on Sporting KC's all-time regular season minutes played by a goalkeeper chart on Wednesday. He's now played 8,437 regular season minutes in three seasons with the club. * Nielsen finished the regular season with 15 shutouts, the second most shutouts by a keeper in a single-season in MLS history. * Kei Kamara finishes the season with 134 shots, most in MLS this season and third most in MLS history. He ranks second on Sporting KC's all-time single-season chart, behind only Preki's 140 shots in 1996. The last time an MLS player attempted more than 134 shots in the regular season was in 2000 when Mamadou Diallo tallied 152 shots. * Kamara is second in MLS in shots on goal (49) in 2012. * Graham Zusi finishes the season with 150 corner kicks, most by a Sporting KC player in club history and third most in MLS history behind Brad Davis (172 in 2011) and Marco Etcheverry (198 in 1998). * Sporting KC leads MLS with 199 corner kicks in 2012, most in a season in team history. * Zusi finished with the third most assists in a single-season in club history with 15. * Zusi's five game winning assists in 2012 matches the single season club record. * Sporting Kansas City has the third most home wins in MLS history with 141, trailing only the LA Galaxy (154) and D.C. United (144). * Since moving into LIVESTRONG Sporting Park last year, Sporting Kansas City is 19-5-10 at home in the regular season. * SportingKC went 10-3-4 (34 pts) at home in 2012 with 22 goals scored and 12 goals conceded. * Sporting Kansas City scored 24 goals in the first half in 2012 and conceded 12 goals in the opening 45 minutes. * Sporting Kansas City scored 18 goals in the second half in 2012 and conceded 15 goals in the final 45 minutes. * Sporting Kansas City scored first in 21 of the team's 34 games this season and have a 15-2-4 record when scoring first in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City led at the half in 13 of the team's 34 games this season and have a 10-1-2 record when ahead after 45 minutes. * Sporting Kansas city went 11-5-0 in one-goal games in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City conceded four penalty kicks in 2012, including Wednesday's second-half PK. * Sporting KC scored 40 of their 42 goals from inside the penalty area in 2012. The team's two goals from outside the penalty area rank fewest in the League this season. * Sporting Kansas City allowed 22 of their 27 goals from inside the penalty area in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in their last 12 MLS matches, the longest undefeated streak in MLS this year and tying the second-longest streak in club history. * Sporting Kansas City outshot their opponent in 27 out of 34 matches in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City is 16-5-6 when outshooting their opponent in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City went 3-1-1 on the NBC Sports Network in 2012 and 15-6-6 on KSMO-TV this season. * Sporting Kansas City is 15-7-7 in games after 5 p.m. CT this season. * Sporting Kansas City is 9-5-3 when the temperature is when the temperature is above 75 degrees at kickoff in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City is 10-5-4 in the central time zone this season. * Sporting Kansas City is 13-5-4 when making three subs in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City led MLS with 542 shots this season, a new club record, and has allowed the fewest shots against (328). The team's previous record for shots in a season was 514 in 1996. * Sporting KC allowed the fewest shots on goal (102) in MLS this season. * The club has led MLS in shots in five of the past seven seasons, finishing first in shots in 2006 (408), 2007 (420), 2010 (393) and 2011 (488). * Sporting Kansas City leads MLS in all-time shots taken with 7,191. * Sporting KC led all MLS teams with the fewest goals against (27) this season and set a new club record for the fewest goals conceded, two fewer than the previous record of 29 set in 2000. * Sporting Kansas City allowed 12 goals at home during the 2012 season, matching the club record for fewest home goals allowed set in 2004. * Sporting KC set an all-time club record for highest regular season average attendance with an average attendance of 19,404 in 2012. * The team sold out 16 of its 17 home MLS matches, including 15 straight capacitycrowds at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. * Sporting Kansas City is 24-2-8 all-time with the backline of Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin starting in defense in all competition. * Sporting Kansas City has won 16 of their last 17 matches in MLS competition (including playoffs) when scoring two or more goals (16-0-1). * Sporting Kansas City is 9-0-1 when scoring two goals in 2012. * Sporting KC is 7-2-4 when allowing one goal in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City has gone 63 consecutive MLS matches (including playoffs) without conceding a goal on a corner kick, dating back to 5/21/11 at Seattle. * Nielsen has played in 5,310 straight minutes of MLS action (including playoffs). * Nielsen made two saves on Wednesday, including a stop on Michael Farfan's penalty kick in the 53rd minute. * Nielsen also saved a penalty kick last season and has given up goals on five the seven penalty kicks he has faced in his MLS career. * Sporting KC is 17-5-8 with Matt Besler in the starting lineup this season. * Sporting KC has allowed only 22 goals with Besler on the field in 2012 for a 0.72 goals against average in his 2,769 minutes played. * Sporting KC has a 1-1-1 record and 1.67 goals against average in the three matches that Besler has missed in 2012. * Besler is the highest ranked defender in the MLS Castrol Index (22). * Only four MLS teams have earned more than 63 points in a single season: San 2012Jose Earthquakes (64), 2011 LA Galaxy (67), 2005 San Jose Earthquakes (64) and 1998 LA Galaxy (68). * Sporting Kansas City's .662 winning percentage in 2012 is the best in club history. * Paulo Nagamura left the match in the 33rd minute due to a left ankle sprain. * Jacob Peterson subbed onto the field for Nagamura and seven minutes later converted the first goal of the match. The goal marks Peterson's fourth goal of 2012, matching his single-season career high set during his rookie season. * Peterson scored for the first time since July 14, 2012. * The goal was assisted by Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong. * Kamara's eight assists in 2012 are a single-season career high. * Sporting Kansas City is 141-75-47 all-time at home and 212-206-109 in the regular season all-time. * Idmsil Elfath officiated his eighth MLS match and has awarded six penalty kicks. * Kamara recorded two assists on Wednesday, matching his single-game career high. It was the fourth time in his career with two assists in one game and the first such occasion in 2012. * It was only the second time this season that a Sporting KC player recorded two assists in an MLS match and first time since Graham Zusi did so on March 25. * Kamara becomes the second Sporting KC player to record two assists in a game against Philadelphia, along with Ryan Smith (6/10/10). * Six different Sporting KC players have scored the club's six goals against Philadelphia all-time. * Seth Sinovic started and played his 50th regular season match for Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. * Julio Cesar also started his 50th regular season match for Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. * Sapong recorded a goal and an assist on Wednesday, the second time in his career with a goal and an assist in an MLS match. * Graham Zusi tied his single-game career high with five shots on Wednesday, the fifth time in his MLS career with five shots in a game. * Zusi now ranks sixth in MLS this season with 82 shots on the year. * Peterson Joseph suffered four fouls on Wednesday, a single-game career high. * Michael Farfan suffered six fouls on Wednesday, a single-game career high. * Wednesday's match-up with Philadelphia marked the second time Sporting Kansas City played the Union in the 2012 regular season, following a 4-0 loss at PPL Park earlier in the year. * Sporting Kansas City is 2-1-3 against the Philadelphia Union all-time and 2-0-1 at home against the Union. * Sporting Kansas City defeated the Union for the first time since the first ever meeting in June 2010. * Antoine Hoppenot scored for the second straight game against Sporting Kansas City. * Sporting Kansas City went 12-5-7 against the Eastern Conference this season. * Sporting Kansas City is 15-6-8 on grass surfaces this season. * Sporting Kansas City is 15-6-7 when wearing Sporting Blue in 2012. * Sporting Kansas City is 6-2-7 when tied at the 75-minute mark in 2012. * Monster Energy hosted a BMX stunt show in the Sprint Plaza on Wednesday. * Sporting Kansas City honored the 2012 Class of Sporting 22 during halftime on Wednesday. * Sporting Kansas City awarded the 2012 Bob Gansler Award for Most Oustanding Academy Player of the Year to under-18 defender Paul Dean. * Sporting Kansas City announced the 2012 team awards prior to Wednesday's match. Jimmy Nielsen and Graham Zusi were named co-MVP's, Matt Besler was voted Defensive Player of the Year and Kei Kamara collected Offensive Player of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year.Kamara will also receive the team's 2012 Budweiser Golden Boot for the leading the team with 11 goals this season. * Ian Nuttell, founder of TheStadiumBusiness Awards, was in attendance on Wednesday to formally congratulate Sporting Club on the four awards bestowed upon the organization at the international awards ceremony in Turin, Italy earlier this year. * Sporting Kansas City teamed up with Harvester's Community Food Network for a food drive at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Wednesday. The first 2,000 fans to donate five or more canned food itemswere entered into a raffle. Five winners were selected to participate in a postgame meet-and-greet with Jimmy Nielsen and Kei Kamara. * Wednesday's match was sponsored by Garmin, who distributed 5,000 thundersticks prior to the match. * Sporting Kansas City randomly selected 18 current Season Ticket Members to receive the game-worn uniforms of the 18 Sporting KC players on the gameday roster Wednesday.
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