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Draw with San Jose keeps Sporting KC from clinching playoff spot

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star

Well, Sporting Kansas City won’t be clinching a playoff spot this weekend. But you can’t say the end of Sporting’s 1-1 draw against San Jose on Saturday night wasn’t exciting.

Sporting needed a win, plus some help from three other teams to clinch. But given the fact it avoided a disastrous loss against the Earthquakes with an improbable late goal — on the road, no less — it will take the result.

"Our biggest thing was coming out of here with a result," said coach Peter Vermes. "When you're able to respond with a goal the way we did, especially being away from home, that's big time."

San Jose broke a scoreless tie at Buck Shaw Stadium in the 85th minute, when Steven Beitashour sent a long ball forward to San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski, who he fired a shot from inside the box past Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

But Sporting didn’t waste anytime answering. Less than a minute later, Sporting forward C.J. Sapong maneuvered through five defenders — dead serious — and curled a ball into the path of a diagonal run by forward Teal Bunbury, who drilled his eight goal of the season past San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch to knot the score at 1-1.

The goal was a redemptive one for Bunbury, who found himself on the end of a header in the 62nd minute and took a quick touch to his left, which caused a defender to slide by and leave Bunbury practically alone in the box. But Busch somehow managed to get in front of a low, hard shot to keep the game scoreless.

But it wouldn’t stay that way. And while Sporting avoided a loss, it did come away with a draw that could jeopardize its first-place standing in the Eastern Conference. At 11-9-12, Sporting — which only has two regular season matches remaining — is only two points ahead of second-place Philadelphia, 10-7-13.

That means Philadelphia can slide past Sporting for first with a win tonight against Chivas USA.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-5915 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com.

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