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There are seven games left in the 2012 Major League Soccer Season and this weekend's 2-1 victory over Toronto FC gave Sporting KC a solid lead in the MLS Eastern Conference. Sporting KC (15-7-5) picked up three big points with the win over Toronto and moved to 50 on the season. That keeps them in first place by four points over the New York Red Bulls.
In the overall MLS standings Sporting KC is now tied with the San Jose Earthquakes at 50 points, but the 'quakes have an additional game left to play. Sporting KC has already qualified for the 2012 CONCACAF Champions League for 2013-14, but a first place overall finish gives them a protected Pot A draw. It also qualifies them for the MLS Supporter's Shield match.
The 2013-14 Champions League will be the first time Sporting KC has qualified for International play since 2005.
First-place Sporting Kansas City is locked in a tight battle with the New York Red Bulls for the top spot in the MLS Eastern Conference and after a draw on Sunday night, the distance between the two teams hasn't changed much. With Sporting KC heading to New York twice in the final eight games of the season, both teams are expecting even higher competition than what fans were treated to in a physical, defensive battle in Kansas City on Sunday.
Sporting KC did not allow a shot all game yet New York played just as tough defensively, something that midfielder Roger Espinoza says is likely to change once the games head to New York.
When we go over there it's going to be a great game. With the way we play and the way they play at home, it's going to be exciting. They haven't lost at home, and they score a lot of goals there. They really go at teams, and we like that. If we lose over there, it will be because they played better than us. We aren't going to go over there and sit back like they did tonight. Everybody on our team wants to win, and you do that by trying to go forward, whether it's home or away.
Defender Chance Myers is also expecting a hard fight from the Red Bulls in what is turning into an incredibly competitive race for the top spot in the conference.
This game was a little more physical than most this season. New York dropped a lot of guys behind the ball. We took our chances and they tried to counter. We had the ball a lot, but it was tough to break them down. We probably deserved the three points, but like I said, the one mistake we made all game really cost us.
Sporting KC welcomes Toronto FC to Kansas City on Sept. 1 with the game set to start at 7:30 p.m. CT. The team will face New York again on Sept. 19 and again on Oct. 20.
It's a rare occasion that a team scores a goal and allows no shots from their competition but still can only manage a draw, but that's the scenario that faced Sporting Kansas City against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night. The Sporks and Red Bulls drew 1-1, with both goals coming from the same Kansas City player, leading scorer Kei Kamara.
Kamara's first goal was a vintage effort that saw him leap above the Red Bulls defense to win a very long header barely inside of the 18 yard box, one that he got more than enough on to see it loop into the back of the net in only the fourth minute of play.
Later in the second half, the Red Bulls struck lucky on a set piece as Kamara's attempt to head the ball away instead sent it into his own net.
Sporting KC is still tops in the Eastern Conference despite their draw over New York.
On Sunday night, Kei Kamara scored once for each team in a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls, allowing Sporting KC to stay in front of their Eastern Conference foes by two points. Sporting KC (14-7-5) has 47 points on the season and remains just two points ahead of Red Bulls for first place. There are eight games left in the season.
Sporting KC is also two points ahead of New York for qualification for the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League, though they have already automatically qualified for Pot B by virtue of winning the U.S. Open Cup.They can reach Pot A and avoid the two strongest teams from Mexico if they finish atop the MLS overall standings. So far they trail San Jose Earthquakes by three points for the overall lead.
After an exciting first half in which Kei Kamara scored both a conventional goal and an own goal, Sporting KC and the New York Red Bulls settled in for a 1-1 draw. Sporting KC got the slightly better end of the deal, however, as they maintained their two point lead in the Eastern Conference.
Sporting KC dominated possession and outshot New York 14 to 3, but only three of those KC shots were on goal. Kansas City also earned five corner kicks to New York's none, and had the ball for 61% of the game.
Roger Espinoza and C.J. Sapong each accumulated a second half yellow card, as did Wilman Conde for New York.
Just four minutes into Sunday night's key MLS contest between Sporting KC and the New York Red Bulls Kei Kamara put Sporting KC in front 1-0. unfortunately, he pulled off a dubious bit of history just a few minutes later. In the 28th minute Kamara made a defensive error that erased his earlier goal, as he scored an own goal to make it 1-1.
It is possible that Kamara became the first player in Major League Soccer History that scored an on goal and a conventional goal in the same game. The rare event has happened at least once before, as it occurred in the 1978 World Cup Finals for the Netherlands against Italy.
First place is on the line in the MLS Eastern Conference tonight at LIVESTRONG Park between Sporting KC and the New York red Bulls. Sporting KC entered the night two points clear of the Red Bulls with eight games to play after tonight's contest. So far, that lead is holding steady as New York and Kansas City are tied 1-1 at halftime.
Sporting KC started the scoring with a very early goal. Kei Kamara scored in the fourth minute on a header of a cross from Teal Bunbury. Unfortunately, Kamara also had a hand in the New York goal as well.
In the 28th minute Kamara made an error on defense and was credited with an own goal, giving him the rare distinction of scoring for both teams in the same match. It is an extremely rare feat that famously happened to Ernie Brandts in the 1978 World Cup finals for the Netherlands against Italy.
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference will square off on Sunday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park when Sporting KC (14-7-4, 46 pts) hosts the New York Red Bulls (13-7-5, 44 pts). The match is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. EST and will be televised on ESPN2.
August has treated Sporting KC well, with the team winning all three MLS contests as well as capturing the U.S. Open Cup trophy. Sunday's match begins a three-game homestand for Sporting KC, and is the first of three matchups with New York in the final two months of the season.
The Red Bulls will be without star Thierry Henry on Sunday night due to the birth of his son. Despite not scoring since July 28, Henry is still second on the New York squad in goals, and leads the team in assists.
Sporting KC is 7-3-2 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park this season in league play, allowing only eight goals in 12 MLS contests.
"The naming rights partnership between our stadium and LIVESTRONG provides an opportunity to spread health and wellness messages that emphasizes the spirit of cancer survivorship. LIVESTRONG's focus is the fight against cancer and the support of 28 million people around the world affected by this disease, and we believe strongly in this mission. The statements made last night by the Lance Armstrong Foundation speak for themselves: moving forward and continuing the fight against this horrible disease."
Lance Armstrong decided to drop his fight against doping charges last night and has been banned from cycling by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and will be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong has said that the mission of Livestrong remains and that he is focused on the fight against cancer and continuing to raise awareness of the disease.
Sporting Kansas City have already had one of the most successful seasons in franchise history, with an Open Cup sitting in their trophy mantle. That Open Cup was their first trophy since 2004, but the Sporks are looking to increase that haul and win their first trophy 'double' since their first two trophies were pulled in back in 2000, when keeper Tony Meola and a staunch defense led the then Wizards to the MLS Cup and Supporter's Shield.
Graham Zusi has been one of the catalysts for the offensive powerhouse that Peter Vermes has built at Livestrong Sporting Park, with 11 assists to his name so far in 2012. To Zusi though, the personal accomplishments that he has built up -- including a string of calls to the US Men's National Team -- mean nothing if the club doesn't have success:
"The personal accomplishments, I really couldn’t care less about," Zusi told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training session. "That’s something I never think of at all. The team accomplishments – we’re always pushing forward. We set a goal of winning the Open Cup at the beginning of the year, and we’ve accomplished that. Now that that’s in our past, we can forget about it and focus on the Supporters' Shield, which is our next goal. And if we can accomplish that, then our next goal would be MLS Cup."
Kansas City is currently only a single game behind the San Jose Earthquakes in the race for the Supporter's Shield, and their playoff spot is all but guaranteed at this point. A double is certainly doable for Sporting this year.