By DAVID GUBALA
Sporting Kansas City went into Sunday's Eastern Conference semifinal first leg looking to hopefully come away with a draw against the Colorado Rapids to send the series back to Kansas City
A nightmarish night for the Rapids helped Sporting KC return to the Midwest with so much more.
After a scoreless first half that saw Colorado starters Kosuke Kimura and Caleb Folan injured and replaced in the first half, Sporting Kansas City took control in the second half, riding a two-goal performance by Teal Bunbury to record a convincing 2-0 victory over the Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Sunday.
The result places Sporting KC in prime position to qualify for the Eastern Conference final with a positive result in the conference semifinal second leg at Livestrong Sporting Park on Wednesday.
Bunbury opened the scoring in the 49th minute when Julio Cesar set him up for a well-struck finish past Matt Pickens. Bunbury scored his second goal just ten minutes later on a penalty kick he earned after being taken down in the penalty area by Tyrone Marshall, who was issued a red card in the process.
The Colorado Rapids' luck certainly played against them in the first half.Folan was forced to come off with a left knee injury after awkwardly falling on the ground in the 18th minute.
In the 32nd minute, things got a lot worse. Kimura had begun to limp after showing pain in his left foot. He was subbed off for Marshall who ended the game early as well because of his second half ejection.
Just before halftime, Teal Bunbury went into a hard shoulder tackle on Drew Moor. Bunbury was shown a yellow card but it was Moor who got the shorter end of the stick. Drew Moor ended up coming off in the 62nd minute with a right shoulder sprain, leaving head coach Gary Smith without substitutions and without two starting defenders.
In fact, Moor's departure from the match marked the first time since 2007 he had been substituted from a match.
In addition to the three injured players, captain Pablo Mastroeni missed Sunday's match as he continues to recover from a concussion, while Jamie Smith was sidelined after suffering a torn ACL.
Sporting KC was also short-handed, with Omar Bravo missing the match due to tightness in his groin.