KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Omar Bravo is still listed as questionable for Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference semifinal second leg against the Colorado Rapids (8 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, TSN2; live chat on MLSsoccer.com), but it’s looking more and more likely that Sporting Kansas City’s hitman will play a part in the proceedings at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Bravo missed Sunday’s 2-0 victory against the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park after experiencing tightness in his groin during training, the result of a strained abductor muscle.
He went through the paces with his teammates on Tuesday as Sporting conducted a light training session in the lead-up to Wednesday’s match, but manager Peter Vermes said a final decision on the Mexican’s status wouldn’t occur until closer to game time.
“As of right now, he looks pretty good,” Vermes said. “I can’t tell you that it’s 100 percent yet, and that’s not because I’m trying to hold anything back. He would have played last Sunday if he was available.”
Bravo was in good spirits on Tuesday, although he admitted it was difficult to be ruled out of such an important game through injury in the first leg. Still, he said he has faith in his teammates to finish the job Wednesday night even if he is unavailable again.
“I was a little bit frustrated,” Bravo said with the help of a translator. “I felt a little impotent about that. I want to play, but my teammates are 100 percent and can get the job done as well. The proof of that was the last game.”
With Bravo watching from the bench, Vermes inserted the versatile C.J. Sapong on the left flank and Kansas City didn’t miss a beat. And no matter who is involved tonight, the tactics employed aren’t likely to change drastically.
Sporting's vaunted striker corps powered the team to 50 goals in 2011, tied for the second best total in MLS. Although he expects Colorado head coach Gary Smith to take plenty of chances to pull the Rapids even, Vermes said he wouldn’t instruct his team change up their style, especially when a goal could finish off Colorado.
“Whether they come in the first five or 10 minutes of the game, at some point they’re going to come,” he said. “We’re going to play the game. This isn’t a conservative nature where you pack all your guys in 35 yards out [from goal]. We’re coming to play.”
Colorado will be without three starters from Sunday’s game through injury, putting even more pressure on the defending MLS Cup champions. But Kansas City will still have to contend against midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, a stalwart for Colorado all season and the team’s leading goal scorer.
“They like to play through [Larentowicz], so we blocked him,” SKC defender Aurelien Collin said of the first leg. “He’s the one who makes the game. We were very disciplined in defense, and it worked out for us.”
Up two goals, that focus on discipline should carry over to Wednesday's match, and, barring a collapse, it would seem Sporting are in perfect position to advance to next Sunday’s Eastern Conference final.
They aren’t thinking that way, though. Not when everything could conceivably change in the course of 90 minutes.
“It’s a good lead,” Bravo said, “but nothing is written yet.”