The 2013 MLS season is officially in the books, as Sporting Kansas City defeated Real Salt Lake in a lengthy penalty shootout (7-6, to be exact) after tying 1-1 through 120 minutes Saturday at Sporting Park.
Among the winners is one former Chivas USA player, midfielder Paulo Nagamura, who had two stints with the Goats, from 2007-09 and again 2010-11. The first spell was considerably more successful for the Brazilian than the second, as injuries frequently kept him out of the lineup under Martin Vasquez and Robin Fraser.
I think it's safe to say that those very injury problems in 2011 prompted Nagamura to be traded to Kansas City for the rights to midfielder Ryan Smith prior to the 2012 season. As you may remember, Smith played for Chivas in 2012 and then went to Greece to play, and appears to have dropped off the face of the earth, at least in soccer terms.
While injuries also sidelined Nagamura at times with SKC, he did emerge this season as an integral member of their midfield, especially in the first half of 2013. In addition to starting and playing the full 120 minutes in the MLS Cup final, he also converted a penalty for Sporting in the shootout.
Nagamura becomes the fourth player to win MLS Cup after playing for Chivas USA. The other three were defenders: Ezra Hendrickson (Columbus Crew, 2008), Andrew Boyens (LA Galaxy, 2012), and David Junior Lopes (LA Galaxy, 2012). Nagamura is the first of that group to actually play in the final.
For Nagamura, the win gives him his second career MLS Cup, along with the 2005 MLS Cup with the Galaxy. He also won the US Open Cup in 2005 and 2012.
Hopefully one day, Chivas USA can actually win the title themselves, but in the meantime, we have to stand on the sidelines and see other clubs grab the top prize. Congrats to Paulo and Kansas City on winning the 2013 MLS Cup.
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