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Zusi helps SKC punch playoff ticket in win over Fire

Oct 11, 2014 - 2:36 AM Kansas City, KS ( - Graham Zusi scored a goal and assisted on another as Sporting Kansas City clinched its fourth straight postseason berth with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire at Sporting Park on Friday.

The hosts entered the match knowing that a win would be enough to clinch a playoff spot, but it took until the final 10 minutes for Zusi to separate the sides as he scored in the 80th minute and set up another goal for Dom Dwyer, who missed a first-half penalty kick.

Sporting moves into second place in the Eastern Conference with the result, one point clear of New England, while Chicago is now winless in its last seven games and has already been eliminated from playoff contention.

The first half was a wide open affair as both teams created plenty of chances, only for both goalkeepers to come up big and deny them all.

Benny Feilhaber created a great opportunity in the 13th minute when he was brought down inside the penalty area by Chicago's Lovel Palmer. However, Dwyer stepped to the spot and blasted his effort over the crossbar.

Sporting goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum produced a fine stop on Matt Watson before he made an even better one on Quincy Amarikwa, tipping the forward's shot just past the post.

It was then Sean Johnson's turn in the Chicago net as he managed to get a hand to a shot from Feilhaber, redirecting it onto the post.

The two teams continued to trade chances into the second half, and Chicago stayed level when Bakary Soumare slid in to keep out a shot from Zusi with 15 minutes to play.

But Zusi found the net five minutes later with a well-struck left-footed shot after he cut into the middle from the right wing.

Sanna Nyassi came off the bench for the Fire and nearly equalized three minutes later, but his volley sailed just over the crossbar.

Dwyer then killed the game off in stoppage time by heading home a cross from Zusi, putting Sporting into the postseason.