San Jose looks like they have it locked up, sitting at 64 points in the Western Conference with 2 games to play and KC at 59 in the East with 2 games remaining.
“There has to be a major slip-up on San Jose’s part,” said KC boss Peter Vermes, of his team’s chances at the Shield. “Right now, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be, especially with the way their schedule looks coming up.”
San Jose’s remaining foes are LA Galaxy at home, and the Portland Timbers on the road.
Sporting would have to win their last two games – at New York Red Bulls and home versus Philly – and San Jose would have to lose their remaining two for KC to creep in and steal away the Shield.
Possible yes, probable no.
If only KC had been able to hold on at Columbus things could’ve been different.
KC took the early lead off a CJ Sapong header served in from Graham Zusi, who now leads all of MLS in assists. Sapong found himself surprisingly unmarked in front of the goal, but his first effort went off the upright. Luckily, the ball careened right back to his noggin and he directed it into the side netting while the Columbus keeper and KC native Andy Gruenebaum, stood helpless.
The 1-0 score line held past the 90th minute only to see Columbus notch a header goal of their own, with Eddie Gaven slipping a ball near-post. The final whistle blew just a few moments later, ripping those two extra points away. But all in all, it wasn’t a horrible result I suppose.
“We should’ve been able to close the game out,” said Vermes. “I think we made it a little too easy for them at the end, just pumping balls all over the place. But at the end for us to come here and get a point, it’s good.”
More disappointing than letting in the late goal, though, is the fact that KC midfield bulldog Roger Espinoza had to be carted off the field in second half stoppage time after a rough challenge. An MRI and x-rays revealed that Roger had a right anterior ankle sprain and will miss 2 to 4 weeks. That’s a big blow to one of the mainstays in Sporting’s solid defensive mid.
On a positive note, right after game Graham Zusi learned that he was being selected to again represent the US in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers, one of which will be held at LIVESTRONG on October 16th.
That game against Guatemala has been sold out for quite some time now and it will be interesting to see the type of ovation hometown hero Zusi gets in front of his club side fans. I’m guessing it will be loud.
Last but not least, Aurelien Collin saw the field for a few minutes after playing sparingly for the last few weeks. Initially the team said he was just being rested, but I’ve heard rumors that he may have gotten cross-wise with Vermes, perhaps by violating some team rules. Obviously no one is saying anything too definitive.
And trust me, getting cross-wise of Vermes is not something that anyone wants to do.
You’ve seen the flat-top right?
That said, Lawrence Olum has been doing an OK job back there. I mean, it’s tough to argue with results, but he still slips up every now and again by keeping an attacker onside, or getting pulled too far out of the center. However I’ll give him some credit, too, for being able to step in and replace KC’s most popular player without any disasters. Low bar maybe, but so far so good.