After 2-0 loss Sunday, Sporting KC to open playoffs Thursday at New York

Sporting Kansas City concluded the 2014 MLS regular season on Sunday with a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored both goals for the visitors, tying the MLS single-season goal scoring record with 27 goals in 2014.

The two teams will meet again at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30, at Red Bull Arena 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, Nov. 2, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Tickets for Sunday’s potential home playoff match at Sporting Park will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday via

Four days after a 2-0 loss in Costa Rica to close out the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, Sporting KC fell by the same scoreline on Sunday in the regular season finale. Wright-Phillips put an exclamation point on a historic season with goals in the 15th and 70th minutes to claim the MLS Golden Boot.

His first of the match came with a right-footed finish past Eric Kronberg for the game-winning goal. Eric Alexander earned the assist, his ninth of the season, as Wright-Phillips scored his first road goal since July 16.

The Englishman doubled New York’s lead with 20 minutes to play and in doing so became the third player in MLS history to record 27 goals in a season.

Winning the ball from Aurelien Collin deep in his attacking third, Wright-Phillips cut inside and placed his shot into the back of the net for his sixth multi-goal game of the season. Wright-Phillips, 29, nearly completed the hat trick in the 83rd minute but was denied the the record-breaking goal on a point-blank save by Kronberg.

Sporting Kansas City’s lone shot on goal in the game came in the eighth minute. Graham Zusi skipped past Dax McCarty in the midfield and fed Dom Dwyer in the left channel, however Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles did well to get a hand on Dwyer’s well-struck shot.

Dwyer finished the 2014 regular season with 22 goals, second most in MLS and a single-season team record.

Robles was called into action again for two important interventions in a five-minute span. In the 38th minute, Paulo Nagamura’s effort from outside the penalty area was palmed away with a full-extension dive. Nagamura came close again two minutes from halftime with a full volley that deflected in the goalmouth and was smothered by Robles.

Sporting Kansas City, which will compete in the postseason for a fourth consecutive year, finished the regular season with a 14-13-7 record and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind New York for the second straight year.

The Red Bulls went unbeaten against Sporting KC in 2014 (2-0-1) and the two teams will now meet in the postseason for the first time in their 19-year history.
– Story from Sporting KC

New York Red Bulls’ visit to Sporting Park Sunday to determine Sporting KC’s playoff seeding

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Sporting Kansas City plays the New York Red Bulls in the club’s regular season finale on Sunday night at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Although both teams have clinched a berth in the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs, the Eastern Conference clash will play a crucial role in determining playoff seeding. The match will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes beginning at 7:30 p.m.

A limited number of tickets may be available and may be purchased at or at the stadium box office on game day.

Sporting KC is currently in third place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Columbus Crew and two points ahead of the Red Bulls.

With a win on Sunday, Sporting KC would clinch the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and would avoid the one-game Knockout Round.

If Sporting KC draws or loses on Sunday, it would finish in fourth or fifth in the Eastern Conference, depending on the result of Columbus’ weekend match against the Philadelphia Union.

Sunday’s match features a pair of British strikers who are leading Major League Soccer in goals scored. New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored 25 goals during the 2014 regular season, while Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer has scored 22.

Sporting KC and New York have met twice in 2014 and Wright-Phillips has scored a goal on both occasions including the game-tying goal in a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park on May 27. The Red Bulls secured a 2-1 victory at Red Bull Arena on September 6 with Dwyer providing the lone goal for the visitors.

World Cup veteran Graham Zusi will be available for selection by manager Peter Vermes on Sunday after missing Sporting KC’s Thursday night CONCACAF Champions League match against Deportivo Saprissa due to caution accumulation. Zusi has five assists in nine MLS regular season games against New York and has registered at least one assist against the Red Bulls in each of the last four seasons.

Since Kansas City’s MLS Cup winning campaign in 2000, Sporting KC is 8-1-5 in regular season finales and 10-1-3 in home finales. The New York Red Bulls delivered the lone defeat at the end of 2006, a result that eliminated Sporting KC from playoff contention.

New York has the third-fewest road wins in MLS (2-7-7 overall) but lead the Eastern Conference in goals (53) and assists (53). Sporting KC leads the Eastern Conference in fewest shots faced per game in MLS (10.2).

Fans are encouraged to arrive to the stadium early on Sunday. Posters will be given away, honoring Dwyer’s record-breaking goal-scoring campaign, to the first 500 supporters who visit the Blue KC table on the Sprint Plaza. The first 100 fans to claim their posters will get access to a postgame autograph session with Dwyer.

Sporting KC supporters can find in-game updates at or by following @SKCGameday on Twitter.
– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting KC ends Champions run, falls 2-0 in Costa Rica

Sporting Kansas City’s 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League run came to an end Thursday night with a 2-0 loss to Deportivo Saprissa at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Saprissa and Sporting KC each finished the group stage with seven points, but the Costa Rican side will advance to the quarterfinal round of the tournament due to their stronger goal differential.

Sporting KC went into Thursday’s match in the driver’s seat of the group. With a win, a tie or a one-goal loss, the defending MLS Cup champions would have advanced to the knockout stages of the tournament.

The home side made things difficult early, however. Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg was called into action in the 15th minute when Juan Bustos picked up an errant clearance and volleyed a strike to the near post. The veteran goalkeeper dove to his left and punched the ball away from goal.

With more than 20,000 fans in attendance, Saprissa struck first in the 23rd minute off a set piece. Bustos whipped in a ball that was headed toward the goal. Kronberg dropped low to block the first attempt, but Heiner Mora cleaned up the rebound to put the home side ahead.

Sporting KC’s luck turned from bad to worse moments later when 2010 World Cup veteran Benny Feilhaber and 19-year-old defender Igor Juliao were forced out of the game with injuries. Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes replaced Feilhaber and Juliao with Soony Saad and Jacob Peterson.

Despite conceding a goal and suffering two injuries, Sporting KC took a 1-0 deficit into the half, a result good enough to advance through to the next round. That score was short-lived, however. Less than a minute into the second half, Mora squared a pass to an open Ariel Rodriguez at the six-yard box. The Costa Rican international made no mistake, poking the ball past Kronberg for his fifth goal of the tournament.

Kronberg was called into action often in the second and responded well. The California native made a one-handed save on a Rodriguez shot in the 63rd minute, stopped a David Ramirez breakaway in the 64th minute and tipped a Marvin Angulo free kick over the bar in the 80th minute.

Sporting KC’s best opportunity of the night came in the 66th minute through striker Soony Saad. The Lebanon international turned a defender and curled a shot toward the far post. Goalkeeper Donny Grant made the save and held on to the ball despite an onrushing Dom Dwyer.

Sporting KC will resume MLS play Sunday night when it plays the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., in the last game of the 2014 MLS regular season.

The match will kick off at 7:30 p.mCT and will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. Sporting KC currently sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and would lock up the No. 3 seed and a spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a win on Sunday.

– Story from Sporting KC