Donnelly: Zusi in Fine Form as Sporting Locks up Playoff Spot

There was a packed house per usual at LIVESTRONG for Friday night’s pivotal game against the Chicago Fire

The Fire sat just two points back of Eastern Conference leading Sporting KC.

The winner would not only be on top of the table in the east, but with only a few games left in the regular season they would take a huge step toward locking up home field advantage in the playoffs.

It was actually the largest crowd to date at over 21,000.

“I think tonight the fans were at their absolute best,” said Man of the Match Graham Zusi afterwards.  “Probably the best I’ve seen them and there’s no doubt in my mind that we can continue that throughout the playoffs.”

KC took an early lead with a sweet goal from Zusi in the 10th minute.

Kei Kamara turned a player in the midfield and streaked 40 yards down the right flank before laying a ball back to Zusi for a one timer from about 14 yards out.  The keeper had no chance.

No Aurelien Collin.  What’s up with that?

After the first goal the chances for either team were few and far between.  Sporting was content to knock it around the back, and Chicago wasn’t all that intent on pressing that early in the game.

The second half was a totally different game. 

Around the 7oth minute, and just after the insertion of Dominic Oduro, things started to go Chicago’s way.  They began knocking the ball around the back, pulling KC’s defense out of shape.

But as quickly as the Fire gained the momentum, KC took it right back with several half chances after some good long strings of possession in the attacking third.

Back and forth it went for the remainder of the match, with Chicago desperately pushing men forward.

Is it time to replace Julio? 

This was the third or fourth game in a row that he had unacceptable giveaways in the back.  Luckily, nothing came of any of them.

Zusi ended his stellar night by plunging in the dagger in stoppage time, putting the game to bed at 2-0 on a breakaway where had a couple options but decided to take a crack himself.

“Two great goals by Graham,” said KC boss Peter Vermes.  “The first one was world class, the second one was a nail in the coffin at a great time.”

Overall, a solid effort from Sporting.  A real workmanlike effort that showed they are learning a little bit how to win within their style, not despite it.

And Zusi with the brace showed his class.  He seems to be playing his best ball at the exact right time, and you can see his teammates’ body language showing their confidence in him.

Not to be overlooked was White Puma Jimmy Nielsen.  He recorded his league-high 14th shutout of the season, but was quick to heap praise on his defense.

“This is one of those games again where I absolutely cannot take any credit for the shutout,” said the Puma.  “We did an awesome job defensively, and I thought we were very smart with the ball. Chicago got a little dangerous in the second half but we recovered quickly and got it sorted out.”

The win also clinches a playoff spot for SKC, and they’re not out of the Supporter’s Shield race yet either. 

Things are getting good, stay tuned KC sports fans…



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6 Responses to Donnelly: Zusi in Fine Form as Sporting Locks up Playoff Spot

  1. Mysterious J says:

    It has been time to replace Cesar for a year now. No idea why Collin ast again, nor has anyone explained it. We had no subs in this game because we have NOBODY ON OUR BENCH WHO CAN HELP US.

    • the dude says:

      Yeah, Julio has given up some balls that converted goals for the opposing team lately. Really stupid ball handling mistakes, bad passes, unforgivable stuff that puts us in the whole considering our offense has been pretty anemic this year. When you have a pressure up offense it makes it that more critical that the back line does not muff passes and get beat on counter attacks. This kind of stuff will kill us against Houston and the better teams in the playoffs.

  2. Rick Nichols says:

    Big win against an old nemesis, and putting two in the back of the net at that! The lads will have to bring their “A” game to Columbus because the Crew is desperate for three points to enhance their chances of securing a playoff spot. Not using a single substitute the other night was a bit unusual if you ask me, but I certainly can’t argue with the results (i.e., a good result).

  3. % says:

    I’m not sure Collin’s the guy we want out there. Seems the defense has played much better without him. Collin seems to have a lot of physical talent but not a lot of brains as a soccer player. No reason to rush his return unless someone goes down.

    Sporting’s coming together pretty well at the right time. That win against Chicago and the one previously against New York speaks volumes about where their head is at as the playoffs approach. Last year you saw them come down from a mid-season boil to something of a simmer come playoffs and it showed against Houston in the conference final. Houston’s fighting to make the playoffs and New York is a big question mark. Given how Sporting handled Chicago, there’s definitely a path to the final and it appears it goes through Kansas City.

  4. legendaryhog says:

    Replace Ceasar and put Collin back in? In the immortal words of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince “If ain’t broke then don’t try and fix it.” – Summertime

    Damn, fucking Bud Light Lime commercials…. It’s in my head!!!! Get it out!

  5. legendaryhog says:

    Oh also, I forgot to mention. What the fuck is that on Kei’s face? Get it off!!! I think it’s one of those alien things that attaches and then bursts out of the dude’s stomach….Seriously dude…and the pink mouth piece. Ok that’s enough…

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