CHESTER, Pa. – With a dramatic stoppage-time goal, Lawrence Olum kept Sporting Kansas City’s hopes for the Supporters’ Shield alive and well.
It also ended any faint playoff hopes the Philadelphia Union may have had.
With time running down in Saturday’s regular-season finale at PPL Park, Olum took a square ball from Teal Burnbury and buried the game-winning goal to propel SKC to a 2-1 win over the host Union, a result that moved SKC two points ahead of the New York Red Bulls for the league’s best record.
The Red Bulls now need to win Sunday’s finale against Chicago to win the Shield. If they don’t pick up the full three points, Kansas City will capture their first Supporters’ Shield since 2000.
The Union, meanwhile, will miss the playoffs for the second straight season and the third time in their first four years of existence. Coming into the weekend, the Union needed to beat SKC and then hope Houston and New England both lost Sunday.
And in the 88th minute, Jack McInerney gave the Union a glimmer of hope with his 12th goal of the season, scoring off a header from Jeff Parke to tie the game at 1-1.
Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath then made a huge stoppage-time save on a wide open Jacob Peterson to keep the game level, before Olum ended things and sent Union fans headed for the exits.
The breakthrough for the visitors came in the 47th minute when Olum flicked on a long throw from Matt Besler. Waiting at the back post was Graham Zusi, who headed the ball off one bounce right in front of net for his sixth goal of the season.
Desperate for his team to score two goals for the first time in ten games, Union manager John Hackworth inserted Roger Torres and McInerney early in the second half and then followed with Sebastien Le Toux about ten minutes later.
Le Toux one-timed a cross just high in the 72nd minute and McInerney got a good look at a throw-in from Sheanon Williams four minutes later, but the Union couldn’t find the equalizer until it was too late.
Despite a tie doing nothing for both teams, the game was scoreless at the break with Sporting Kansas City and the Union each getting just one shot on target.
In the 23rd minute, Peterson found himself wide open in front of the net after an SKC set piece skirted through traffic but attempted a weak shot on frame that MacMath easily corralled.
The visitors also threatened in the 36th minute but Zusi’s free kick from just outside the box was hit directly into the wall.
The Union’s best chance before the break came in the 43rd minute when Michael Farfan’s cross went just over the head of Antoine Hoppenot at the face of goal. In the 27th minute, Hoppenot also got free in the box but hit a shot over the crossbar.
Before the game, Union defender Chris Albright was honored with a video tribute that featured comments from Landon Donovan, Thierry Henry, Bruce Arena and Ben Olsen. Albright is retiring after a sterling 15-year career in MLS.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Lawrence Olum||First MLS goal at the absolute best time ever, plus the assist on Graham Zusi's goal. A game to remember for the longtime journeyman.|
|2||Seth Sinovic||Without his clearance off the line, Jack Mac's goal stands as the game-winner and Sporting's Shield hopes are gone.|
|3||Jack McInerney||Pulled his team back within striking distance with his late strike. See ya next year, kid.|