Colorado's Major League Soccer title
defense ended with a whimper Wednesday when Sporting Kansas City
eliminated the Rapids with a 2-0 victory in the second leg of
their Eastern Conference semi-final.
The Rapids needed a significant turnaround after losing the
first leg by the same scoreline last Sunday but it was Kansas
City, roared on by their home crowd, who performed with urgency
and advanced to the conference final with a dominant 4-0
Graham Zusi free-kicks set up both goals on a rainy evening
at Livestrong Sporting Park with defender Aurelien Collin
heading home the opener in the first half and rookie CJ Sapong
adding the second, also with the head, after halftime.
"Zusi has an amazing foot, every time he [serves] we feel we
can score," Collin told reporters. "We did an amazing job today.
It was not easy to play against this team in this weather. I'm
very proud of my team tonight."
Kansas City played aggressively despite the drizzling rain
and forward Sapong set up the first goal with a charging run
that resulted in a foul in the 27th minute.
Midfielder Zusi's pinpoint service found Frenchman Collin
and his delivery of a second free kick in the 75th minute proved
no less accurate, allowing Sapong to put the result beyond
Aiming to become the first back-to-back MLS Cup Champion
since the Houston Dynamo in 2006-2007, Colorado were weakened by
injuries to key players and uninspired in defeat.
Sporting will face the winner of the other semi-final
between Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union for a place in the
MLS Cup final.
Real Salt Lake later reached the Western Conference final
but not until after the Seattle Sounders had given them a
genuine scare with a 2-0 second leg victory.
The Sounders played with desperation, firing shots from all
angles and they got reward with second-half goals from Osvaldo
Alonso and Lamar Neagle.
In the end, Real's 3-0 win in the first leg proved enough
for a 3-2 aggregate victory to set up a meeting with the Los
Angeles Galaxy or the New York Red Bulls.
It was a third consecutive year that Seattle's season had
ended with a conference semi-final defeat, while Real moved
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