C.J. Sapong’s late goal was enough to give Kansas City a 2-1 win over Philadelphia Union, securing them the MLS Eastern Conference title.
Sapong was on hand in the 82nd minute to fire home the winning goal after Jacob Peterson’s classy 40th-minute solo effort was cancelled out by Philadelphia’s Antoine Hoppenot nine minutes after the break.
Although they merely needed to draw to secure the Eastern Conference title from DC United, who are now six points adrift with one regular season game remaining, the win will still give Sporting Kansas City plenty of confidence as they head into the conference semi-finals with a 12-match unbeaten run to their name.
For Philadelphia, their second consecutive loss ensures they will finish in eighth position on the Eastern table, with neither New England (ninth) nor Toronto (10th) able to overtake them.
Peterson had only been on the field seven minutes, coming on for the injured Paulo Nagamura (ankle), when he opened the scoring at Livestrong Sporting Park on Wednesday.
In a flowing move that also involved Sapong and Kei Kamara, Peterson used his fresher legs to take possession ahead of Carlos Valdes and fire home a powerful effort beyond Zac MacMath’s outstretched hand.
The Union lifted their intensity and earned a penalty early in the second half after Matt Beslar fouled Danny Cruz.
Farfan’s spot kick was saved by Jimmy Nielsen but Hoppenot was on hand to fire home the rebound, ensuring that Nielsen did not manage to equal Tony Meola’s MLS record of 16 clean-sheets for a season, set during 2000.
But Sapong was on hand to fire home with eight minutes remaining from Kamara’s assist as Kansas City continued their march toward the MLS title.