SPORTING KC

Sporting Kansas City’s 2014 season came to an end with a 2-1 loss on Thursday night at the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round of the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Dom Dwyer scored his team-record 24th goal of the year across all competition, but Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his second goal of the game in the 90th minute to complete the comeback.

In the postseason for a fourth straight year and returning to the playoffs as the reigning MLS Cup champions, Sporting Kansas City fell to the Red Bulls for a third time in 2014 and suffered its second such defeat in a five-day span.

New York, which earned its first playoff victory at Red Bull Arena and snapped a postseason home winless streak that dated back to 2005, now advances to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against No. 1 seed D.C. United.

The two sides — meeting for the first time in the playoffs in their 19-year history — played to a scoreless first half that saw scoring chances on both ends of the field. Australian international Tim Cahill sent his shot over the crossbar from six yards out in the 17th minute, as did Wright-Phillips with a header 15 minutes later.

Thierry Henry found space on the left side of the penalty area in the 34th minute only to push his shot wide of the far post. Sporting Kansas City responded less than a minute later as Dwyer chased down a long ball from Aurelien Collin and picked out Paulo Nagamura, whose first-time shot was saved by Luis Robles.

The second half started emphatically with New York nearly finding the breakthrough goal in the 48th minute. Henry’s free kick into the area was punched away by Eric Kronberg and fell to Dax McCarty at the top of the 18-yard box. The eight-year MLS veteran directed his header narrowly wide of the empty net.

Instead it was Sporting Kansas City that recorded the game’s opening goal in the 53rd minute. Benny Feilhaber forced a turnover at midfield and ran at goal before slipping the ball centrally to Dwyer. The Englishman made no mistake, burying a first-time shot with his left foot past Robles for his second career postseason goal.

The Red Bulls rally would commence immediately as the East’s top scoring team forced three saves in a four-minute span. Kronberg made his best save of the night in the 55th minute to tip a Henry header over the crossbar, followed by a save on Jamison Olave’s header on the ensuing corner kick and finally a stop on Lloyd Sam with two New York players looming.

The equalizer came in the 77th minute courtesy of Wright-Phillips, the MLS Golden Boot winner who matched the MLS single-season record with 27 goals in the regular season. Henry put the ball into his path and his right-footed shot took a deflection off Matt Besler before hitting the back of the net to set the stage for the last-minute dramatics.

In the final minute of regulation, Wright-Phillips rose to meet a cross from second-half substitute Ambroise Oyongo and directed his header off the inside of the far post for the game-winning goal. Wright-Phillips goal was his sixth against Sporting KC in 2014, including braces in back-to-back games over the past week.

The loss snapped Sporting Kansas City’s 45-game unbeaten streak (43-0-2) in MLS competition (including playoffs) when leading in the 75th minute dating back to 2011 and brings the 2014 campaign to a close after 43 competitive matches.

With Thursday’s elimination, Sporting Kansas City will hold the 11th position in Major League Soccer’s various player acquisition mechanisms (MLS SuperDraft, allocation order) for the upcoming 2015 season.
- Story from Sporting KC

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Watch party to be tonight at Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park in KCK

Sporting Kansas City begins its quest to repeat as MLS Cup champions in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round against the New York Red Bulls at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Red Bull Arena.

The one-game, single-elimination playoff match will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The match will also be available on La Gran D 1340 AM and simulcast on Sports Radio 810 WHB, followed by The Final Whistle: Sporting KC Postgame Show.

The club’s official watch party will be held in the Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. The doors will open one hour prior to kickoff and the watch party will be free for fans of all ages to attend. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Sporting Kansas City finished the 2014 MLS regular season in fifth place in the Eastern Conference (14-13-7, 49 points), one point behind New York (13-10-11, 50 points) after the Red Bulls defeated Sporting KC 2-0 at Sporting Park on Sunday.

The two teams – both charter members of Major League Soccer — will now meet for the first time in the postseason in a rematch that comes just four days after the regular season finale.

Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in all three matches against Sporting KC this season, including both goals in New York’s victory on Sunday. Wright-Phillips tied the MLS single season scoring record with 27 goals in 2014 and became the first player in Red Bulls history to win the MLS Golden Boot.

Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer finished the regular season with 22 goals, second most in MLS.

Sporting KC led all MLS teams with eight road wins in 2014 and conceded only 20 goals away from home, fewest in MLS.

However, the club is 2-12-1 all-time in road playoff games and will face a New York Red Bulls squad that ranked second in MLS with 38 home goals in 2014.

New York — seeking its first MLS Cup title — is 0-4-0 at Red Bull Arena in the postseason since the stadium’s opening in 2010 and has not won a home playoff game since October 2005, going 0-5-2 in seven home playoff matches since.

Thursday’s winner will advance to take on No. 1 seed D.C. United in the two-leg Eastern Conference Semifinals. If the score is tied at the end of regulation on Thursday, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety followed by a penalty kick shootout if necessary.
- Story from Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo will re-join Major League Soccer’s Western Conference in 2015, MLS announced on Monday as part of conference re-alignment plans for the league’s highly anticipated 20th season.

Expansion clubs Orlando City SC and New York City FC will be added to the Eastern Conference for their inaugural MLS seasons.

“We’ve established some great rivalries in the East. Now we have to re-establish new rivalries in the West,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “This move is a product of the League’s great growth and continued success.”

One of 10 charter members of Major League Soccer, Sporting Kansas City played the team’s first nine seasons (1996-2004) in the Western Conference and reached the postseason on seven occasions. The club shifted to the Eastern Conference prior to the 2005 season and has played each of the past 10 seasons in the East.

As it currently stands, 13 of the past 15 MLS Cup champions will compete in the Western Conference in 2015. Among the 10 teams, five reside in the Pacific Time Zone, three in the Central Time Zone and two in the Mountain Time Zone.

2015 Eastern Conference (10): Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC

2015 Western Conference (10): Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas,Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver Whitecaps

Chivas USA will cease operations effective immediately and the league will play with 20 clubs in the 2015 season, according to the announcement. On Thursday, Oct. 30, the league will announce a new MLS Los Angeles club — and ownership group — that will begin play in 2017.

For the 2015 season, the 20 teams will each play 34 games during the regular season. Clubs will play each team in the opposing conference once for five home and five away matches. Clubs will play each of their nine conference opponents at least twice (one home, one away), plus six additional intra-conference games — three home and three away.

Major League Soccer will fully introduce a new identity and crest in 2015 while beginning eight-year media agreements with ESPN, FOX and Univision. San Jose will open the newest soccer-specific stadium in the United States and international stars Kaka (Brazil), Frank Lampard (England) and David Villa (Spain) will all join MLS.

Sporting KC will begin the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs at 7 p.m. on Thursday against the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round. The winner will advance to be the host of No. 1 seed D.C. United at 3 p.m. on Sunday in Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
- Story from Sporting KC

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