For the first time since 2010, the MLS Cup final will not feature the Houston Dynamo, as Sporting Kansas City prevailed 2-1 over the Texan side to win the Eastern Conference title and claim the first berth in Major League Soccer's championship decider.
In contrast to the scoreless first leg, Houston exploded out of the gate with a third-minute goal from Oscar Boniek Garcia. A scramble at the top of the penalty area resulted in the ball falling to Garcia, and his shot deflected to fool Jimmy Nielsen and bounce into the goal.
Dom Dwyer wasted a golden chance to equalize in the eighth minute. Chance Myers' low cross across the goalmouth was inviting, but Dwyer somehow got the ball lost in his own sliding legs, and was unable to recover and fire off a shot.
But it wasn't long before Kansas City did level the score. Benny Feilhaber was fed by Oriol Rosell through the middle, and although he was smothered by a gaggle of players in orange, a poor touch from Bobby Boswell tipped the ball into the path of CJ Sapong, who restored parity in the 14th minute.
Sporting spurned a wonderful opportunity to head into halftime with the lead. Dwyer worked his way through the Dynamo defense and lashed his low cross through, but it was on the back foot of Sapong, who overran the ball.
Dwyer made up for his early profligacy with the winning goal in the 63rd minute. Feilhaber threaded and perfectly-placed light chip between the Houston defense and ito the path of Dwyer, who took a sidestep and finished to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
The two nearly combined again in the 79th minute, as Feilhaber picked out Dwyer on the far post, but Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall was in place to snatch the ball from the top corner of the frame.
As the team with the best regular-season record of the remaining three, Kansas City will host the 2013 MLS Cup on Saturday, Dec. 7, against the winner of the two-legged Western Conference final. Real Salt Lake currently leads Portland 4-2.
- Sports & Recreation
- Houston Dynamo
- Sporting Kansas City
- Oscar Boniek Garcia
- Benny Feilhaber
- Major League Soccer