Sporting Kansas City v Colorado Rapids 2-0 (Aggregate 4-0)
On a nasty night in Kansas, Sporting doubled their two-goal advantage with a 2-0 victory over the depleted Rapids to advance 4-0 on aggregate.
Headed goals from Aurelien Collin and CJ Sapong, both precipitated by excellent dead-ball deliveries from the in-form Graham Zusi on either side of halftime doomed a Colorado side who could muster very little by way of offense.
Without eight regular starters, the Rapids never got going in a match marred by a water-logged pitch and thirty-eight fouls, seven of which led to yellow cards.
Jimmy Nielsen calmly backstopped Sporting to a fourth consecutive clean sheet to extend their shutout streak to three-hundred and sixty-five minutes. They now find themselves unbeaten in their last eight-matches and gelling as a team, both on and off the field, after a difficult ten-match road trip to open the season saw them slump to the basement of the Eastern Conference.
Some shrewd acquisitions including the goal-scoring centre-back Collin, the experienced Julio Cesar, and the rookie of the year candidate Sapong, as well as solid campaigns from the likes of Zusi, Besler, Kamara, and others have put a smile on the stern visage of Coach Peter Vermes.
The win moves Sporting on to the semifinals (conference finals) where they will face the winner of Houston-Philadelphia.
Colorado will lament what has been a disappointing season as defending champions, hoping to correct some front office squabbles - between Coach Gary Smith and Technical Director Paul Bravo - to strengthen during the offseason.
Seattle Sounders v Real Salt Lake 2-0 (Agg. 2-3)
An equally wet evening on the West Coast witnessed a highly entertaining match as Seattle attempted to overcome a three-goal deficit at home, hosting a Salt Lake side shorn of their two regular centre-backs, Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave.
The Sounders, who took the game to Real all night long, could not find that elusive third goal necessary to take the match to extra time, eventually running out of luck in the closing minutes.
Second half goals through Osvaldo Alonso - from the spot after Mike Fucito had been pulled down by Tony Beltran - and Lamar Neagle, gave hope to the expectant and rowdy rave-green crowd, who, despite winning their first playoff match by a final score of 2-0, were ultimately forced to go home empty-handed, with only their third consecutive US Open Cup and progression to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League to console them, losing 3-2 on aggregate.
It was the final match of the long and storied professional career of Kasey Keller, who left fans with a last image of his swatting away a late Fabian Espindola chance that would have sealed the proceedings had Keller not denied it.
The aggregate victory sees Salt Lake progress onto the next round to face the winner of the Los Angeles-New York series to be decided later this evening (Thursday, November 3rd).
Kansas City v Colorado 2-0 (4-0 Agg.); Seattle v Salt Lake 2-0 (2-3 Agg.).