Kansas City, Soccer Town

The past two seasons, Sporting Kansas City was the Eastern Conference regular season champion, but had been eliminated before the MLS Cup both times. This year, Sporting finished 2nd in the East, much to their benefit, and reached the Cup.

It was the coldest MLS Cup of all time, surpassing the 43 degree mark of the old record, at 20 degrees. And it was one the people will be talking about for a long time.

Sporting Kansas City defeated the Western Conference playoff champ, Real Salt Lake, in penalty kicks this past Saturday. The score was tied after 90 minutes, after SKC defender Aurelien Collin put in a header off of a corner kick by Graham Zusi in the 76th minute. Alvaro Saborio scored for RSL in the 52nd minute, knocking one into the right corner.

It was a tight battle overtime, but no one availed with a goal, so it was down to penalty kicks. Real Salt Lake missed their first two kicks, as Saborio missed high, and Ned Grabavoy’s shot was saved by SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. The score was 3-3 in PKs, and all Sporting’s Graham Zusi had to do was connect, and KC would have a title. Zusi flopped under the pressure though, sending his shot over the crossbar, and putting the shootout into sudden death, into round 6. As both teams made their next two kicks, Sporting’s Lawrence Olum missed wide right in round 8, forcing a must save by Nielsen. Luckily, Nielsen guessed the right way and saved Sebastian Velasquez’s shot that was going right. Finally, in round 10, Real Salt Lake’s Lovel Palmer hit the crossbar and Sporting had won the MLS Cup in penalty kicks, 7-6.

Aurelien Collin was named the MVP of the MLS Cup, as he scored KC’s goal in the 76th minute, and finished the game winning penalty kick in the 10th round. This is Kansas City’s first title since 2000, where Sporting KC’s coach, Peter Vermes, was an all-star defender.