Jimmy Nielsen at Colorado in Eastern Conference Semifinals
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Recap: Sporting earns 2-0 road win at Colorado in first leg

2011 MLS Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Semifinals Leg 1

Sunday, October 30, 2011, 6:30 p.m. CT
English TV: FOX Soccer
Spanish TV: FOX Deportes
English Radio: Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO
Weather: Clear and 63 degrees
Attendance: 8,601
Video: Match Highlights

Score                                                      1     2    F
Sporting Kansas City (13-9-12, 51 pts)       0     2     2
Colorado Rapids (12-9-13, 49 pts)              0     0     0

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen©; Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic; Julio Cesar (Jeferson 78), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi; Kei Kamara (Soony Saad 89), Teal Bunbury (Davy Arnaud 69), C.J. Sapong

Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Omar Bravo, Michael Harrington, Lawrence Olum

Colorado Rapids: Matt Pickens; Kosuke Kimura (Tyrone Marshall 36), Drew Moor (Scott Palguta 59), Marvell Wynne, Miguel Comminges; Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowicz©, Wells Thompson, Sanna Nyassi; Omar Cummings, Caleb Folan (Macoumba Kandji 23)

Subs not used: Steward Ceus, Andre Akpan, Joseph Nane, Ross LaBauex

Stats:              KC      COL
Shots                8          8
Shots on Goal    5          1
Saves               1          3
Fouls                13        10
Offside              0          2
Corner Kicks     4          6

Misconduct Summary:
KC – Teal Bunbury (Caution; Unsporting Behavior) 47+
COL – Tyrone Marshall (Ejection; Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity) 57
COL – Sanna Nyassi (Caution; Reckless Foul) 63 

Scoring Summary:
KC – Teal Bunbury 1 (Julio Cesar 1) 49
KC – Teal Bunbury 2 (penalty kick) 59

Two goals from forward Teal Bunbury were the difference in a 2-0 victory for Sporting Kansas City over the Colorado Rapids in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Sunday. The win is the first postseason road victory for Sporting Kansas City since a 3-2 shootout win over Dallas in the team’s inaugural 1996 season.

The victory gives Sporting Kansas City a 2-0 lead in the two-game, aggregate goal series ahead of the return leg at 7:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Tickets can be purchased here, by calling 888-4KC-GOAL or by visiting the box offices located at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

Bunbury, who posted his third multi-goal game of the season on his postseason debut,becomes the third player in Sporting KC history to score twice in a MLS playoff match and the youngest at age 21.

Both of Bunbury’s goals came in the second half of a hotly-contested affair that saw more heavy challenges than clear cut chances until Bunbury’s first strike in the 49th minute. The opening goal, assisted by Julio Cesar, gave Bunbury the team lead for goals in MLS competition with ten in 2011. The second-year forward would add his 11th from the spot in the 59th minute after earning a penalty kick following a red-card challenge from Rapids defender Tyrone Marshall.

While Sporting Kansas City struck quickly in the second half to earn the victory, it was Colorado who created the more dangerous chances to start the match. Fourteen minutes in, Omar Cummings nearly put Colorado in front with a header to the far post, but his effort was off the mark.

In the 27th minute, Cummings was again involved in a chance for Colorado. Carrying the ball along the edge of the penalty area, Cummings played a quick one-two with substitute forward Macoumba Kandji before sliding the ball to Sanna Nyassi, but the Gambian midfielder sliced his shot wide.

Two minutes later, Colorado nearly went in front through Wells Thompson. Handed a start in place of injured captain Pablo Mastroeni, Thompson controlled a pass from Cummings to the left of goal, before cutting the ball back past ChanceMyers and firing a right-footed effort just wide of the far post.

The best chance of the first half came on the stroke of halftime, as Bunbury saw a redirected shot strike the post from a set piece opportunity. Graham Zusi’s corner kick fell into the penalty area and squirted to Julio Cesar. Cesar paused on the ball before knocking a pass back out wide for Zusi. TheSporting KC playmaker took a touch before striking a low cross towards goalthat was flicked against the post by Bunbury as the sides entered the breakscoreless.

In the 49th minute, with the first chance of the second half, Sporting Kansas City pulled in front. On the ball in midfield, Cesar threaded a passbehind the Colorado backline for Bunbury, who opened his hips and slid his shot low past Matt Pickens from the left side of the penalty area to give Sporting the lead.

Ten minutes later Sporting Kansas City added another, again through Bunbury. After winning the ball alone up front, Bunbury dropped a pass back for Zusi. After returning the pass for Bunbury inside the area, the Akron product was brought down from behind by substitute defender Tyrone Marshall. Marshall was shown a straight red card for the challenge, as referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. Bunbury stepped up and finished the attempt, sending Pickens the wrong way for his second career postseason goal.

Cummings went close in the 68th minute, receiving the ball in space before blazing a shot over the bar from distance. But in the 70th minute, Sporting were back on the attack. Taking a one-touch pass from Davy Arnaud, 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year candidate C.J. Sapong lashed a shot towards goal that Pickens could only punch over the bar.

With 14 minutes remaining, Kandji had a chance to pull a goal back for Colorado. Racing onto a pass in behind the Sporting Kansas City backline, Kandji wrestled off a challenge from Cesar to put himself in alone with Jimmy Nielsen. Kandji opted to try and finish to the near post, but his effort was blocked away for a corner by the onrushing Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper.

With the match winding down, Sporting Kansas City had two more chances to increase the final margin through substitute midfielder Jeferson. In the 78th minute, the Designated Player controlled a bouncing ball from a Roger Espinoza header and fired a right-footed drive to the near post that Pickens parriedaway. Then, in the 94th minute, Jeferson played an inch-perfect pass for Arnaud, who was denied on the doorstep by Pickens.

With the 2-0 win, Sporting Kansas City, whose last home playoff loss came in a 3-1 defeat to the Colorado Rapids in 1997, will return home in position to progress to the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time since 2007 with avictory, draw or one-goal loss.

Sporting Kansas City have lost only three times in their past 27 matches and have lost by more than one goal on only one occasion during the 2011 MLS regular season.

FAST FACTS

• Sporting Kansas City striker Teal Bunbury becomes the third player in Sporting Kansas City history to score twice in a postseason match with goals in the 49th and 59th minutes on Sunday.  Previously, Davy Arnaud (2004) and Miklos Molnar (2000) had accomplished the feat, making Bunbury the youngest player to do so at age 21.

• Bunbury had two multi-goal games during the 2011 MLS regular season, scoring twice at Vancouver on April 2nd and against Houston on September 10th.

• Bunbury now has goals in three of his past four appearances.

• Julio Cesar earned the assist on Bunbury’s first goal, becoming the 41st Sporting KC player to record an assist in the postseason. The Brazilian midfielder had two assists in the regular season and now has two assists in his past three appearances.

• Sunday's match was Sporting Kansas City's first playoff game since 2008, a span of three years between postseason matches which marks the longest of any team in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.

• Sporting Kansas City is 4-2-2 all-time against the Colorado Rapids in the MLS playoffs.

• This marks the fourth all-time postseason series between the two teams, tying the Rapids with the LA Galaxy for the most frequent Sporting Kansas City playoff opponent. Sporting KC previousy played Colorado in the 1997, 2000 and 2003 playoffs.

• Sporting Kansas City recorded back-to-back shutouts to complete the MLS regular season, and have now posted three consecutive clean sheets for the first time since the 2007 postseason.

• Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes led Sporting KC in his first postseason game as a Manager on Sunday, becoming the fourth manager in Sporting KC history to coach the club in the postseason along with Bob Gansler, Ron Newman and Curt Onalfo. As a player, Vermes was 11-12-2 in the postseason and appeared in the playoffs in each of his seven MLS seasons.

• Colorado Rapids Manager Gary Smith suffered his first loss in postseason play and is now 3-1-1 all-time in the MLS playoffs after leading the club to the 2010 MLS Cup last season.

• Sporting Kansas City have scored in 20 of their last 21 MLS matches, with the lone scoreless match coming in a 1-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake on September 17th.

• The Colorado Rapids lost for only the third time in 19 MLS matches at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in 2011 on Sunday. The Rapids are now 7-3-9 at home this season.

• Sporting Kansas City broke a postseason winless streak that stood at four consecutive postseason matches dating back to 2007 before Sunday’s win.

• Sporting Kansas City is now unbeaten in their last six matches, while the Colorado Rapids lost for the first time in a six-game span on Sunday.

• Sporting Kansas City are 4-1-5 in their last 10 MLS road matches, with the lone loss coming in a 1-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake on September 17th.

• Prior to Sunday, Sporting Kansas City had never won an MLS playoff match on the road in regulation in 16 all-time away matches during the postseason.

• Sporting Kansas City are 13-15-5 all-time in 33 all-time postseason appearances with 46 goals for and 46 goals against.

• Sporting Kansas City is 2-12-3 all-time in 17 postseason away matches with 17 goals for and 33 goals against.

• Prior to Sunday’s shutout victory, Sporting Kansas City's 2.06 goals against average in postseason road matches was tied with FC Dallas for the highest mark amongst active MLS teams.

• Sporting Kansas City is 12-6-2 when scoring the first goal in MLS playoff matches.

• Nine Sporting Kansas City players in the starting lineup made their MLS playoffs debut on Sunday, with the exception of Kei Kamara and Roger Espinoza. In total, 11 Sporting KC players recorded their first postseason minutes with the second-half additions of Soony Saad and Jeferson.

• Saad became the youngest player in Sporting KC history to appear in an MLS playoff game at age 19, breaking the previous mark set by Nick Garcia at age 21.

• Sporting Kansas City Designated Player Omar Bravo was a late scratch from the starting lineup on Sunday after experiencing tightness in his groin. C.J. Sapong, who has appeared in every MLS match for Sporting KC this season, replaced Bravo in the lineup.

• Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler has started each of the team’s last 28 MLS matches.

• Colorado Rapids striker Caleb Folan exited the match in the 23rd minute with a left knee sprain.

• Colorado Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura left the match in the 36th minute with a left foot injury.

• Colorado Rapids defender Drew Moor was replaced in the 59th minute with a shoulder injury.

• Sporting Kansas City will host the return leg in the two-game, aggregate goal Eastern Conference Semifinals at 7:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

• Colorado must overcome a two-goal deficit to advance. Sporting Kansas City has lost by more than one goal only once in 34 regular season MLS matches this season.

• Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens made his first save in the 70th minute, pushing a shot from Sapong over the crossbar. He finished the night with three saves in the loss.

• Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made only one save in the match, denying Macoumba Kandji in the 76th minute. The defensive performance marks just the second time in Sporting Kansas City’s 33 all-time postseason matches that a goalkeeper has faced only one shot.

• Nielsen posted the 12th shutout by a Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper in postseason history. The 2010 MLS All-star recorded seven shutouts during the 2011 regular season and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player.

• A special post-game edition of “Off the Pitch with Sporting Kansas City” aired on KSMO-TV at 9:30 p.m. CT from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

• A standing-room only crowd was in attendance at the team’s official watch party in the Members’ Club at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Sunday.

• Sunday’s match was nationally broadcast on FOX Soccer and FOX Deportes. It also aired on the radio in Kansas City on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340AM.