RSL and SKC square off for MLS Cup

RSL and SKC square off for MLS Cup

The champions have been crowned in the East and West and MLS started handing out league awards in the buildup to MLS Cup on Dec. 7.

There are only four clubs that have won more than one MLS Cup title.

On December 7, that number will grow as Sporting Kansas City hosts Real Salt Lake in the 2013 MLS Cup final at Sporting Park in a matchup of two one-time winners.

The two teams both got one-goal results in the second leg of the Conference Championships, but had much different series.

In Portland, Real Salt Lake entered the second leg with a 4-2 lead and, when an early goal for the Timbers was waved off because of a foul, Salt Lake was able to quickly capitalize on a downed Portland team. Robbie Findley netted a 29th minute goal off a rebound to put RSL up 1-0 in the match and 5-2 in the series.

The Timbers never threatened from there and Salt Lake will make its first appearance in the MLS Cup final since topping the LA Galaxy in a shootout in 2009 at CenturyLink Field.

The Eastern Conference Championship was much more eventful on Saturday after Kansas City played to a scoreless draw against the Houston Dynamo in the first leg in Houston.

The Dynamo appeared to take control early when Boniek Garcia took a headed pass from Brad Davis, worked around his defender and hit a deflected shot into the net for a 1-0 Houston lead in just the third minute.

However, Houston was playing without one of its midfield pivot points in Ricardo Clark, who suffered an injury in the first leg that kept him out of action in the second, and Kansas City was able to take advantage and take control of the midfield.

A misplayed clearance allowed CJ Sapong to equalize in the 14th minute, then Dom Dwyer put the game away in the second half with a 63rd minute goal that Houston was never able to recover from as Sporting advanced with a 2-1 win.

Kansas City – then the Wizards – won the 2000 MLS Cup with a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire and lost in the 2004 final to DC United.

In their only meeting this year, Kansas City won, 2-1, at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 20, benefitting from a 66th minute red card to Chris Wingert to bounce back from a 1-0 deficit to get the game-winner from Ike Opara seven minutes into second-half stoppage time.

TWO TAKEN IN WAIVER DRAFT

Twenty-eight players were made available through the MLS Waiver Draft on Monday, as teams are already beginning to put into place plans for the 2014 season.

Midfielder Philip Lund was the only Sounders FC player available and the club opted to pass on any other players when it came up 13th in the draft order.

The only players selected were former MLS pool goalkeeper Brad Stuver going to the Columbus Crew and former Montreal Impact midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo went to the New England Revolution. Neither player appeared in an MLS match after being selected in the second round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, both by Montreal.

POWERS WINS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

For the first time in club history, the Colorado Rapids had the top rookie in Major League Soccer. For good measure, they also had the second-place finisher as midfielder Dillon Powers edged forward Deshorn Brown in AT&T Rookie of the Year voting.

Powers had five goals and six assists from the holding midfield position to best his teammate, who notched 10 goals and four assists to lead the Rapids in scoring. Powers earned 32.65-percent of the team votes, 37.66-percent of the media vote and 22.81-percent of the player vote to win the honor. His 93.12 weighted total well outdistanced the 75.49 of Brown.

Sounders FC defender DeAndre Yedlin finished third in voting with a 42.19 weighted total, earning his best response in the player vote, where he got 17.12-percent of the vote, just 1.41-percent behind Brown.

GONCALVES IS LEAGUE’S TOP DEFENDER

New England Revolution newcomer Jose Goncalves may have been new to MLS, but he wasted no time getting to know the league and on Tuesday he was announced as the runaway winner for MLS Defender of the Year.

The 28-year-old Portuguese center back played every minute of the season for the Revs, helping turn the team into the third-best defense in the league and qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2009. He earned 36.74-percent of the team vote, 46.75-percent of the media vote and 18.83-percent of the player vote for a weighted total of 102.32. Last year’s Defender of the Year Matt Besler finished second (55.31) and 2011 Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez finished third (41.23).

REIS IS HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR

New England wasn’t through collecting awards on Tuesday, though. Goalkeeper Matt Reis was named MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year for his heroic efforts at the site of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Reis was positioned near the site of the first explosion while at the race to support his wife. He had moved away from the blast site moments before the explosion, but his father-in-law John Odom stayed behind. After the bomb detonated, Reis rushed back to help victims, including Odom.

His efforts would end up saving Odom’s life and afterward Reis raised more than $125,000 for the John Odom Recovery Fund at his third annual charity golf tournament.

FAIR PLAY TO LA GALAXY AND NAGBE

The final awards announced on Monday were for Fair Play – touted as being selected by MLS based on “objective criteria such as fouls committed, cards received, games & minutes played, as well as subjective evaluation of sportsmanlike behavior.”

Portland Timbers forward Darlington Nagbe won the Xbox Individual Fair Play award and the LA Galaxy won the team award.

Additionally, Hilario Grajeda was named the top referee and Kermit Quisenberry the top assistant referee.

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