Congratulations Sporting Kansas City: MLS Cup ChampionsDecember 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Major League Soccer, Whitecaps Season 2013 | 2 Comments
Tags: Major League Soccer Final, MLS Cup, Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City
Well, that was quite a final. Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake played an exciting final in a match that had no end of drama.
The game was played in ridiculously low temperatures, and sections of the pitch were clearly frozen. Those parts of the pitch that weren’t completely frozen were lumpy and bumpy at best. The ball was very cold and unresponsive. The first half was filled with very poor football because the players were having a hard time moving the ball in the atrocious conditions. It was a tremendously physical and hard-tackling contest. It was more of a pitched battle than a football match because of the poor conditions.
In the second half both teams played better football, and it was Kansas City that attacked and played the better football. SKC had 9 corner kicks to 1 for RSL in the match. RSL had the opportunities to win the match with very effective counter attacks, hitting the post twice. In fact, had RSL buried one of their two golden chances in the first half they probably would have won the match.
RSL’s Saborio scored a nice goal early in the second half, but only after bringing the ball under control with his upper arm, which the linesman did not flag in spite of having a clear view. Collin equalized mid-way through the second half with a great header under pressure off of a Zusi corner kick.
The game even had lots of laughs. Me and my mate spent a lot of time laughing at Jimmy Nielsen, Sporting’s goalkeeper, who both played and looked for all the world like a fat old drunk from a pub who was called in to play at the last second because no one else was available. What we didn’t know was that he was playing with badly injured ribs, which goes a long way to explaining his lack of mobility, shocking slowness and unsteadiness on his feet. Nielsen saved two penalties during the marathon match-deciding penalty kick contest, which really turned the tide, allowing SKC to win the Cup. We had thought for sure RSL’s keeper Rimando would do better in the penalties, but Nielsen bested him. Nielsen even had a paper document in his hand which supposedly told him where SKC players would shoot the ball. It was just a prop to unsettle the RSL players, of course. It worked.
While both SKC and RSL are model Major League Soccer franchises that play very attractive football, only one could win. It was nice to see SKC given a reward for successfully rebranding their team and turning their franchise around in such a dramatic fashion. SKC fans are fantastic, and the display of enthusiasm they put on in their recently built stadium was a credit to them and the MLS both. RSL’s faithful were there in numbers too.
Even though the match probably would have been cancelled if it was a regular season game due to the frozen pitch, the match was a classic final that surely must be one of the best finals played in the short history of the MLS.
Lets hope the Whitecaps get to the final one day…