Kosuke Kimura wasn't looking to score. Just to set up Omar Cummings with a chance to get a go-ahead goal for the Colorado Rapids.
"I took the shot with the idea that good things happen when you put the ball to the net," Kimura said. "It was a simple cross to Omar and it went in."
Kimura scored in the 43rd minute and the Rapids beat the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 in chilly conditions Saturday night to advance to the MLS Cup on Nov. 21 at Toronto's BMO Field.
"We've gotten scoring from a lot of different areas in the playoffs," Colorado coach Gary Smith. "Tonight it was Kosuke's night and he made the most of it."
Kimura scored on a shot from along the sideline that eluded goalkeeper Jon Busch. The goal was Kimura's first of the season.
"They scored on a lucky shot," Busch said. "It was a cross that everybody missed and it went in."
The seventh-seeded Rapids reached the MLS final for the first time since losing to D.C United in 1997. They will face the FC Dallas-Los Angeles winner Sunday in the title game.
"This was unbelievable effort by our team and our conference," Smith said. "It shows the kind of parody there is in the league."
Temperatures dropped into the high 30s in the match up of the two lowest-seeded teams in the Western Conference. The Earthquakes were seeded eighth.
"Weather wasn't a factor," San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. "I thought it was a very even game and the difference was the one ball that got in."
San Jose had five corner kicks and more scoring chances, but trailed 1-0 after 45 minutes.
"We had our chances in the first 40 minutes," Yallop said. "Finishing passes was lacking. The final pass was lacking."
The aggressive Earthquakes put three shots at Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the first 8 minutes. Tim Ward sent a low drive from 15 yards from the left post in the third minute, Geovanni had a shot from the slot and Chris Wondolowski kicked one through traffic, but Pickens smothered them all.
The biggest save wasn't made by Pickens at all, but by Kimura in the 26th minute. Ryan Johnson broke free in front of Pickens, but Kimura came in at the last instance to strip Johnson of the ball and swat it out of harms way.
"I knew his style of touching the ball one time before taking his shot," Kimura said. "It gave me time to get back on the play and get back before he took the shot."
Meanwhile, Colorado's offence was limited to a couple of harmless shots by Cummings and Anthony Wallace. That was until Kumara gained control of the ball along the sideline.
Kimura appeared to send a cross to Cummings in front of the net, but the ball never connected with Cummings, who fanned on the ball.
Instead, it bounced past Busch and into goal.
Colorado kept up the pressure at the start of the second half. Conor Casey and Drew Moor barely missed catching the right post in the 50th minute.
The Earthquakes regained momentum. Wondolowski had a step on his defender in the 53rd minute, but lost control of the ball and Geovanni never got through the three-man wall on a free kick in the 56th minute.
Busch kept it a one-goal game with a diving save on a shot by Pablo Mastroeni in the 63rd minute. Busch came out to force a missed shot by Cummings on a breakaway in the 65th minute.
Geovanni kicked the ball off the goal line on a shot by Moor in the 71st minute. Arturo Alvarez shot over the crossbar in the 84th minute.
Six minutes of regulation and four minutes of added time later, the Rapids were showering each other with beer and were drinking champagne from the Eastern Conference Cup.