Monday, November 29, 2021

MLS Cup play-offs: Sporting KC through to Western Conference semis, Union advance in east

SoccerNews in MLS 21 Nov 2021

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Sporting Kansas City won through to the Western Conference semi-finals after accounting for Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 in the MLS Cup play-offs.

Khiry Shelton, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Graham Zusi scored as Sporting KC earned a showdown with either Seattle Sounders or Real Salt Lake.

Sporting KC entered Saturday’s play-off with three straight defeats. The three previous times they lost their last regular-season match before the post-season, the club were eliminated in their first play-off tie (1997, 2014, 2017).

But Sporting KC defied that record thanks to their performance at Children’s Mercy Park, where Shelton opened the scoring in the 17th minute.

The Whitecaps – who had won just one of their nine games away to Sporting KC, dating back to September 2017 – equalised via Cristian Dajome’s 39th-minute penalty.

Sporting KC, however, restored their advantage when Isimat-Mirin struck in the third minute of first-half stoppage time and Zusi sealed the victory 13 minutes into the second period.

In the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia Union booked their spot in the semi-finals thanks to a last-gasp 1-0 win against New York Red Bulls after extra time.

Jakob Glesnes’ thunderous and dramatic volley in the 123rd minute sent the Union through to the next round of the play-offs.

The Red Bulls had lost only one of their last 12 matches (W7 D4) en route to qualifying for their 12th straight postseason – the second-longest streak in MLS history (Sounders 13 in a row, 2009-present). The 25 points the Red Bulls also collected since September 17 were the most in MLS in that span.

Next up for the Union is a meeting with either Orlando City or Nashville.

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