Los Angeles Soccer: Kosuke Kimura

MLS: Houston, K.C. open with wins

October, 30, 2011
Higher-seeded road teams won both Eastern Conference playoff openers Saturday, with conference champ Sporting Kansas City using two Teal Bunbury goals to knock off defending MLS Cup champion Colorado and Houston scoring twice in the first half en route to a victory at defensive-minded Philadelphia.

Bunbury scored four minutes into the second half and converted a penalty kick 10 minutes later to lead Sporting to a 2-0 triumph at Colorado, which missed injured captain Pablo Mastroeni and lost three more players -- forward Caleb Folan and defenders Kosuke Kimura and Drew Moor -- to injury.

Houston beat the Union, 2-1, with Calen Carr's 30th-minute strike making the difference after Dynamo defender Andre Hainault, from a Brad Davis set piece, and Philly's Sebastien Le Toux traded goals in the sixth and seventh minutes.

K.C. will be home for the second leg Wednesday, and Houston plays its home leg Thursday. The series winners meet in the Eastern final next Sunday.

Houston's win was its first in five meetings with Philadelphia, which debuted last year in MLS. Sporting's triumph hinged on Colorado defender Tyrone Marshall's nightmare of a night -- he was beaten by Bunbury on the first goal, then dragged down the speedy forward in the Rapids box for the PK, picking up a red card in the process.

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MLS PLAYOFFS: Rapids freeze out Quakes, head to Cup

November, 13, 2010

A look at Saturday's Eastern Conference final:

IN BRIEF: Colorado reached its second MLS Cup final -- its first in 13 years -- with a deserved 1-0 triumph over visiting San Jose in sub-freezing temperatures just outside Denver. … Right back Kosuke Kimura's cross sneaked into the net in the 43rd minute, but the Rapids would have had more if not for another superb performance by Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch. … The Rapids await the winner of the Galaxy-FC Dallas clash in Sunday's Western Conference final at Home Depot Center.

BEST PLAYER: It's Omar Cummings again. The speedy Rapids forward tormented the Quakes with runs through and behind the defense, constantly creating or exploiting space -- had his shot been on, he would have had a hat trick. He doesn't get an assist on Kimura's goal, but he deserves one: His near-post run froze Busch, allowing the in-swinging cross to skip past and inside the far post.

BEST GOAL: There only was one, and, no, it wasn't a work of art, but who cares? Kimura, the only Japanese player in the league, scored his first goal of the campaign -- and just his third in four seasons -- with a sensational cross from the right flank after a throw-in. With Bobby Convey applying pressure, Kimura curled a left-footed ball toward Cummings, who split San Jose's Jason Hernandez and Sam Cronin to get free at the near post. At first, it looked like Cummings got a touch on the ball, sending it past Busch, but replays indicated the cross had sneaked through on its own, and Cummings acknowledged at halftime that he hadn't gotten a piece of it.

BIGGEST STOP: Busch had plenty, including two big stops on Cummings and another on Pablo Mastroeni, but Brazilian forward Geovanni made the biggest, keeping the Quakes in the game by clearing Drew Moor's header from a Wells Thompson corner kick off the line at the right post in the 70th minute.

WORTH NOTING: The Rapids are the third successive crossover finalist. New York, sent to the Western Conference bracket in 2008 after finishing fifth in the East, stunned Houston and Real Salt Lake to reach the MLS Cup final, and Real Salt Lake's title run last year went through the East after a fifth-place finish in the West. Colorado was, naturally, fifth in the West this year. … The Rapids upset Kansas City and Dallas en route to the 1997 MLS Cup final, but lost, 2-1, against D.C. United in front of 57,431 at RFK Stadium in Washington. Jaime Moreno and Tony Sanneh gave D.C., coached by current Galaxy boss Bruce Arena, a two-goal lead, and Adrian Paz got one back in the 75th minute for Colorado.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think the goal was maybe a little fortuitous, and he doesn't get on the score sheet all that often. … If there had been a bet on it, you would've had very long odds on Koski scoring the game-winner.” -- Colorado head coach Gary Smith.

at Commerce City, Colo.
Colorado 1 (Kimura 43), San Jose 0

Western Conference final
Sunday: L.A. Galaxy vs. FC Dallas at Home Depot Center, 6 p.m., ESPN and ESPN Deportes

Nov. 21: at Toronto, 5:30 p.m., ESPN and TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)

All times Pacific