Sporting KC had no problem knocking off the reigning MLS champs as it coasted at home in poor playing conditions.The Colorado Rapids had no hope from the beginning.
With eight potential starters missing and a two-goal deficit to make up, the defending champs watched Sporting Kansas City continue to pour on the goals and cruise into the Eastern Conference final with a 1-0 win at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Wednesday.
"I think the maturity of the group to have the discipline in the two game series was huge," Sporting coach Peter Vermes said. "There is no doubt that we've grown up as a team."
Aurelien Collin scored the first goal in the 27th minute and C.J. Sapong added the dagger in the 76th to send Sporting KC to the next round to face either Philadelphia or Houston on Sunday.
Playing in rain and 40-degree temperatures, Sporting KC was the team on the attack throughout the match while the Rapids did not look like a squad ready to overcome a 2-0 defeat at home in the first leg.
But at least the Rapids have somewhat of an excuse.
Colorado lost three players to injury in the first leg and a fourth to a red card. Kosuke Kimura (foot fracture), Drew Moor (separated shoulder) and Caleb Folan (ankle sprain) all had to be substituted in the loss. Tyrone Marshall received the red card.
"It's tough," Matt Pickens said. "We missed some guys tonight, that’s what it boils down to. Guys that have experience, guys that can grind out these wins on the road, and even at home."
The home team first struck when Collin skipped a ball off his head from a well-placed free kick by Graham Zusi. Collin was completely unmarked - which became a trend in the game - in the box as he picked up his fourth goal of season.
The only real opportunity for Colorado came on a long free kick of its own. In the closing seconds before halftime, Sanna Nyassi bounced a ball right in front of Jimmy Nielsen, who may have been surprised but still managed to make the save.
While Colorado's season was falling apart in the second half, it was Sporting KC that continued to carve out the scoring opportunities.
In the 57th minute, Sporting KC almost went up two when Collin hit the woodwork off a corner kick. It was another display of poor marking from the Colorado backline that continued until just minutes remained in the game and its season.
"To be good on set pieces, you have to have someone that can deliver a ball consistently well," Vermes said. "[Zusi] has been doing that for probably the last two thirds of the season here. He has really stepped it up."
Sporting KC's second goal also came on a set-piece as Zusi picked up his second assist with another nice free kick into the box. This time it was Sapong who headed it past Pickens.