KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Finally, a goal that Seth Sinovic can celebrate without adding a “but.”
Last year, Sporting Kansas City's first career goal gave Sporting a 1-0 win over Houston in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal against Houston – but it wasn't enough to overcome the Dynamo's 2-0 victory in the away leg.
But on Wednesday night, Sinovic's 79th-minute strike from Graham Zusi's flicked-on header sent another East semi leg into extra time. And this time around, Kansas City capitalized with Claudio Bieler's 113th-minute finish for a 3-1 victory over New England and a 4-3 aggregate series win that puts them into the Conference Championship against the Dynamo.
“It's nice to have one that's not bittersweet,” said Sinovic, who grew up in the Kansas City area and joined Sporting in 2011 after being released by New England.
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Sinovic's joy showed in the aftermath of his goal, when he did a belly-slide into the corner and then got up and kissed the Sporting crest on his jersey.
“There’s no better feeling,” he said in the postmatch news conference. “I was so excited with that celebration. Hopefully I showed a little bit of how much this team and this city means to me and how much it means to play for them.
"So yeah, it’s unbelievable to score a goal like that, and unbelievable to keep us in the playoffs and hopefully there’s more to come."
And the fact that it came against the team that released him in 2011?
“That wasn't even on my mind, to tell you the truth,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “It's a different team now, different coach. I don't think about it any more.”
Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen said he had a feeling that Sinovic might replicate his feat from last November.
“I asked him yesterday before practice,” Nielsen said, “'Is it not time for you to score again?'”
Sinovic's response, the 'keeper said: “'It'll come tomorrow.' He told me that, and what a bomb. It's fantastic. I'm very happy for him. He deserved that.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.