Thanks to heroes old and new in a shootout, Sporting Kansas City is moving on in the Major League Soccer playoffs. Sporting KC beat the San Jose Earthquakes 4-2 in penalty kicks on Wednesday night to win an MLS Western Conference Wild-Card Match at Children’s Mercy Park and advance to a series against St. Louis CITY. "At the end of the day, we found a way," Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. "I think our guys have the ability to dig deep because they’ve been through a lot this season." The match was scoreless through regulation and five minutes of stoppage time. But Sporting KC was dominant through the first 45 minutes. The home side peppered San Jose’s goal and pinned the Earthquakes in their defensive third. The Quakes didn’t even register a shot until the second half.
But Sporting KC generated few decisive moments, instead opting for shots outside the box. When they did get inside the box, they passed up shooting opportunities. Pulido had a shot cleared off the line just a minute into the second half, and Russell had multiple chances at goal on free kicks from outside the box — including one that struck the post. Sporting KC laid siege to the Earthquakes’ net for the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time but couldn’t get one into the net. With the league’s new playoff format, and a quick turnaround for the winner of the match, it went straight to penalty kicks. Sporting KC’s Tim Melia stood tall, making the first penalty kick save. "I think Tim is the best I’ve ever been around … in regards to penalty kicks," Vermes said. "He’s absolutely incredible."