Three Thoughts on #SKCvHOU: Houston find a way
For 90 minutes, Sporting Kansas City pounded on the door. And once they finally broke through, via a brilliant diving header from Seth Sinovic no less, it seemed the sell-out crowd would will them to victory.
But that wasn't to be, and although the Dynamo were dogged in defense, Sporting have no one but themselves to blame for not pushing the match to, at the very least, extra time. C.J. Sapong had a handful of chances he'll want back. Same goes for Kei Kamara.
Kansas City logged 20 shots, yet only four were on frame. They held more than 70 percent possession, yet managed just one goal. That's simply not good enough, and continues the trend that's plagued Sporting all season. Sure, they generate chances, but too often they aren't able to test the 'keeper.
You could see it in Dominic Kinnear's eyes. His players shared the same look, one that conveyed that, yes, they were moving on but they were also a bit fortunate to do so in the face of such unrelenting pressure.
Tally Hall was brilliant in this series, rarely making the spectacular save but consistently commanding his area under a deluge of SKC service. If the ball could be caught or punched, Hall was there to take care of business.
Same goes for Boswell and Hainault, the former over 180 minutes and the latter in Kansas City. With Sporting bombarding the box – 31 open play crosses and countless set pieces and corner kicks – the Dynamo's central duo rarely allowed a clean look and were decisive with their clearances.
All it would have taken was one slip up, one muffed clearance, one wayward pass. Yet that never happened, and because of that the Dynamo are headed home to host the first leg of the conference finals against New York or D.C. despite putting the onus on their backline to carry them.
3) Uri Rosell and Peterson Joseph: Sporting KC's midfield of the future
Roger Espinoza is almost certainly off to distant shores this offseason – all signs point that way at least – but Sporting KC fans needn't be too concerned about the future of the midfield. With injuries keeping Julio Cesar and Paulo Nagamura out on Wednesday night, a 20-year-old and 22-year-old helped the home side absolutely dominate the center of the field at Livestrong Sporting Park.
With Graham Zusi pushed out on the wing, Rosell and Joseph drove Sporting's complete dominance in possession and rarely put a foot wrong in 90-minute performances. These guys can play, and they may already be better fits for Sporting's 4-3-3 system than their veteran teammates.
Peter Vermes gushed about the duo following the match, and Eastern Conference foes won't be happy to see a new guard start to take the reins in Kansas City, even if both still have plenty to learn.