Commerce City, Colo. Teal Bunbury scored in the 49th and 59th minutes, leading Sporting Kansas City to a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday night in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Bunbury’s second goal came on a penalty kick in the 57th minute, and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made one save.
“It was a real physical game and we kept our composure,” Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes said. “At the this time of the year, the team that keeps it’s composure usually walks away with the win.”
This was the first leg of a home-and-home series where the winner advances based on aggregate goals.
“You’ve got to get a little luck somewhere,” Colorado coach Gary Smith said. “And we didn’t get any.”
Colorado was without midfielder Jamie Smith, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last Thursday in the team’s the wild card victory over Columbus.
The defending MLS Cup champions lost two more players in Sunday’s game, forward Caleb Folan (left knee) and Kosuke Kimura (left foot) in the first half.
“We came to terms with missing Jamie and I thought we did great,” Smith said. “But the two injuries in the first half really bit into us hard.”
The teams played to two 1-1 ties in the regular season. There wasn’t much offense and no scoring in this game by halftime.
In fact, there wasn’t a shot on goal for either team in the first half.
“We came out and played our game,” Nielsen said. “We didn’t give anything away.”
The game featured physical play in the first 45 minutes. The result was Folan leaving the game in the 23rd minute and Kimura in the 36th.
Defender Drew Moor of the Rapids took a hard hit from Bunbury that drew a reckless foul and a yellow card in stoppage time added at the end of the half.
Colorado outshot Sporting Kansas City 4-3, but none of the shots reached the respective goalkeepers.
Sporting Kansas City picked up it play on the offensive play from the outset of the second half.
Julio Cesar found Bunbury alone just across midfield. Bunbury blew past The Omar Cummings along the left sideline and tucked a shot past goalkeeper Matt Pickens and just inside the right post in the 49th minute.
“Julio put a great ball to me,” Bunbury said of his first goal.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Kansas City.