KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 25: Omar Bravo #99 of Sporting Kansas City celebrates after scoring a goal on a penalty kick against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on June 25, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
The Wild Card stage of the MLS playoffs are complete and the Conference Semifinals have commenced. The Colorado Rapids will play host to Sporting Kansas City in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal on Sunday, October 30th, at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Kickoff is set for 5:30 MST and the match will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel.
The Rapids are fresh off a 1-0 win over Columbus Crew in freezing conditions at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Thursday evening. Colorado faces a quick turnaround against a Sporting Kansas City side that is confident heading into the MLS playoffs as the top seed from the Eastern Conference. The Rapids will be without the services of midfielder Jamie Smith, as the Scotsman tore his ACL during the match against Columbus.
Pablo Mastroeni is still doubtful for the match as the Colorado captain has struggled with a concussion sustained late in the season against Real Salt Lake. Look for Wells Thompson to possibly be inserted into central midfield alongside Jeff Larentowicz. Brian Mullan and Sanna Nyassi should provide the wing duties. Joseph Nane and Ross Labauex will be midfield options from the bench.
Sporting Kansas City have a potent attack that features Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury, and Kei Kamara, all with 9 goals each this season. Graham Zusi and CJ Sapong have 5 goals apiece, and lead the team in assists. Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes is confident heading into the first leg and his forwards will be looking to find a way past Colorado's defense which has given up only 1 goal in the last 4 games.
Colorado fans are very pleased that Omar Cummings found the scoresheet on Thursday evening with a fantastic strike that proved to be the game-winner against Columbus Crew. The Jamaican speedster scored his first career playoff goal and also scored for the first time since August. Caleb Folan and Sanna Nyassi will have to be more clinical in front of goal to gain an advantage going into the second leg at Livestrong Sporting Park on Wednesday evening. Look to perhaps see Macoumba Kandji return to the place where he did his damage last season - the playoffs, that is - as well if Folan's form is too dreary even for Coach Smith to overlook.
Dating back to last season - and in fact the entire history of DSGP - the Rapids are 3-0 in home playoff games, with two of those wins coming against Columbus Crew. Weather conditions will be much warmer than Thursday evening with temperatures around 50 degrees and clear skies. Dick's Sporting Goods Park will be place to be on Sunday evening while the Rapids look to gain the upper hand against Sporting Kansas City in the first match of the Eastern Conference semifinal.