Dominic Dwyer's goal in the 65th minute secured Sporting Kansas City the 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy on Sunday at Sporting Park. His goal also punched KC’s ticket into the Major League Soccer (MLS) playoff as the number six seed in the Western Conference.
The play began with Sporting midfielder Soni Mustivar stealing the ball from Sebastian Lletget at the right hand side of the field. He then passed it to U.S. international midfielder Graham Zusi. Then the U.S. international quickly gave the ball to defender Chance Myers. The KC defender returned the ball back Mustivar, and he took two long strides with the ball towards the penalty box.
Then the conductor Benny Feilhaber was eager to get involved. He positioned himself between two Galaxy defenders. Mustivar waited for the right time to give Feilhaber the ball. His patience attracted LA’s right back AJ DeLaGarza to leave Feilhaber. Right before DeLaGarza was able to close out his angle; Mustivar sent the former U.S. international towards the goal.
Feilhaber started slow and then took off. He ran past two defenders and then forced LA’s center back Leonardo to change his run and go towards him. His run froze the Galaxy defense and gave Dwyer just enough time to create space.
Once Feilhaber had a circle around him he sent an accurate pass to Dwyer at the left hand side of the box. The English native without any hesitation fired a shot into the bottom right hand corner to give Sporting the 2-1 lead. The second the ball entered the back of the net, the 19,422 fans at Sporting Park erupted because they knew the playoffs had arrived for Kansas.
The game was close and physical. Both LA and KC needed the three points for different reasons. In result, the tensions made the match chipper as the game dragged on. The pressure of MLS’ #DecisionDay created: 28 fouls, 27 tackles and five yellow cards.
Regardless that the game was rough, the offenses were still producing chances. Sporting was able to create 16 shots and the Galaxy blasted 12. However, both keepers were up to the challenge as they combined for seven saves.
In the end, KC pulled ahead with a little help from the referee. The ball soared into the box after a KC player delivered a long throw in from the left hand side. LA’s center back Omar Gonzalez cleared the danger as the ball soared high in the air, but the ball did not travel out of the box. The ball was falling rapidly and Myers was at the right place and blasted a shot right before it hit the ground.
The ball traveled through a sea of bodies, but right before his shot enter the back of the net the ball deflected off KC defender Kevin Ellis. He appeared to be offside when he made contact with the ball, but the referee or the linesman did not call anything so Ellis made it 1-0 at the 38th minute.
KC had the lead, but the Galaxy was not done. The five time MLS Cup Champions entered the match in second place and with a bye from the first round of the playoffs. However, a defeat would knocked them down from the standings so they retaliated.
Giovani Dos Santos received the ball near the midfield and turned on the jets. The Mexican international was in a hurry as he flew by defenders running with pace towards the penalty box. Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane came crashing into the box from the left hand side. However, Gerrard changed his route and headed to the right, by doing so he gave Dos Santos two options and space for Keane to set up for a shot.
The Mexican international had two choices and quickly dished a pass to Keane. Then the Irish international gently flicked the ball over KC’s goalie Tim Melia hands and tied the match 1-1 at the 46th minute.
Just like that the action packed first half ended with a 1-1 score line. Both teams still had everything to play for with the game being even. However, 20 minutes into the half Dwyer broke through and gave KC the 2-1 victory.
Now the two clubs know who they will face in the post-season. KC is the number six seed which means they will be traveling to Portland on Thursday to face the Timbers in a single game elimination. Los Angeles with this result dropped to fifth place and now has to travel to CenturyLink Field on Wednesday to face the Seattle Sounders FC.