MLS Cup Playoffs Begin With 123rd-Minute Wonder Strike And Long-Range Saint Graham Zusi Blessing

The MLS Cup Playoffs — there's nothing like it.

The 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs began this weekend, rendering all other sports and leagues entirely meaningless over the next two weeks. If the snob in you says “no, I want to watch Liverpool stick four past Arsenal” or the masochist points you in the general direction of the Detroit Lions, let Saturday’s opening two games serve as a lesson.

In the day’s earlier match, the Philadelphia Union — the 2020 Supporters’ Shield winners that choked it all away in the first round — met perennial choke artists New York Red Bulls to see which side could contrive to lose in the most memorable way possible.

As we edged closer and closer to a shootout at Subaru Park, it looked like the Union would again meet disaster as Kacper Przybyłko, Sérgio Santos and Cory Burke missed sitters while captain Alejandro Bedoya was visibly distraught when exiting in the 110th-minute.  

However, with effectively the last kick of the match, defender Jakob Glesnes chested down a Red Bulls clearance 25 yards from goal and unleashed a dipping, swerving rocket that flew beyond goalkeeper Carlos Coronel and inside the post.

It was the latest goal ever scored in MLS. 

Over in the Western Conference, three-seed Sporting Kansas City welcomed six-seed Vancouver to Children's Mercy Park and took a 17th-minute lead through Khiry Shelton off a beautiful Graham Zusi feed. Vancouver equalized from the spot in the 39th, but Nicolas Isimat-Mirin restored SKC’s one-goal advantage in first-half stoppage time, setting up a tense second 45.

In the 58th minute, Saint Zusi blessed the Blue Hell with a screamer that was laced into the far corner from distance. (Watch him also start the move with a cross-field raker.) 

Action continues Sunday with New York City hosting Atlanta United (3:00 p.m. ET on ABC) and Minnesota traveling to Portland (5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

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