Sporting Kansas City advances to fifth round of Open Cup with 2-0 victory

Sporting Kansas City defeated Minnesota United FC 2-0 Wednesday night in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Soony Saad and Alex Martinez tallied second-half goals in front of 15,307 fans at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Sporting KC will now play host to the Portland Timbers at Sporting Park on Tuesday, June 24, in the fifth round of the competition. Tickets for that match will go on sale to the public Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

Saad was a threat for Sporting KC all night and nearly put the home side ahead in the seventh minute. The 21-year-old striker picked up a pass from Seth Sinovic inside the Minnesota penalty box, shook off a defender and curled a ball to the far post. Minnesota goalkeeper Mitchell Hildebrandt took a step back, but could only watch as Saad’s attempt ricocheted off the crossbar.

Minnesota had a flurry of chances midway through the first half, but goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum – who made his first start for Sporting Kansas City – was up to the task. Gruenebaum caught Christian Ramirez’s floating shot in the 22nd minute and did well to stop Kevin Venegas’ near-post attempt in the 31st minute.

The visitors had one more opportunity before halftime to break through, but Daniel Mendes’ driven attempt to the far post skipped past a sliding Ramirez.

Victor Munoz made his Sporting KC debut Wednesday night, but the affair was short-lived. The Spanish midfielder suffered an apparent leg injury in the 36th minute.

The game turned in Sporting KC’s favor in the 50th minute when referee Tyler Ploeger issued Cristiano Dias a straight red card for a hard challenge on forward Dom Dwyer.

Following the ejection, Hildebrandt did his best to prevent Sporting KC from capitalizing on the man advantage. The 25-year-old goalkeeper stopped point-blank attempts from Dwyer in the 64th minute and Sinovic a minute later.

Sporting KC would not be denied, however, and broke through in the 76th minute. Lawrence Olum, who wore the captain’s armband with Matt Besler on national team duty, picked up a poor Minnesota clearance and quickly squared the ball to Saad. The young striker took a touch to tee up a 25-yard strike that skipped between Hildebrandt and the near post. The goal was Saad’s third in four career Open Cup matches.

Sporting KC doubled its lead in the 87th minute when Martinez tallied his first professional goal. The play developed in the midfield when Toni Dovale played a through ball down the wing to Sal Zizzo. The speedy winger’s initial cross was deflected, but Zizzo stayed with the play and found an open Martinez at the penalty spot. The rookie midfielder one-timed the ball into the open net to secure the victory.

– Story from Sporting KC

Richar, T-Bones complete late comeback

Kansas City scored five runs in the eighth inning, including three off a bases-loaded triple by Danny Richar, and beat Sioux City 8-5 in front of 5,641 Wednesday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.

Sioux City, protecting a 4-3 lead in the eighth, brought in former major leaguer Alex Burnett for only his second appearance in 2014. He gave up five runs on four hits, including a triple with the bases loaded by Richar, that blew things open for Kansas City, giving the T-Bones an 8-4 advantage.

Kansas City had the lead early. The second inning started harmlessly enough for Sioux City starter John Straka, retiring Richar and Nick Schwaner in order. But Darrell Hudson and Danny Masiello then drew back-to-back walks before Robby Kuzdale lined an RBI double off shortstop Nate Samson’s glove and into left field, scoring Hudson. Bryan Sabatella then legged out an RBI infield single that scored Masiello and extended the Kansas City lead to 2-0.

Sioux City responded in the fourth. Andres Perez opened the inning with a single and Rene Tosoni followed with a booming double that carried over Sabatella’s outstretched glove in right field and rolled to the wall. Samson then struck an RBI double of his own that scored Perez and Tosoni and evened the score at 2-2. Samson advanced to third, tagging on a fly ball and scoring on an RBI groundout by Peter Barrows that gave Sioux City the lead.

The Explorer lead was short-lived, however, as the T-Bones answered the following inning. Richar stroked a leadoff double into centerfield and came around to score on an RBI single off the bat of Vladimir Frias, tying the game at 3-3.

Perez finally broke the tie in the eighth for the Explorers with a solo home run off Kansas City reliever Jared Messer, knocking it off the “fair pole” in left field. The T-Bones then followed with a five-run frame, taking the lead and never looking back. Kris Regas (2-1), who entered the game in the eighth, picked up the win for Kansas City. Burnett (1-1) took the loss.

Kansas City climbs to 15-17 with the win, while Sioux City falls to 12-21, tied for the worst record in the league. The T-Bones and Explorers conclude their series Thursday night at 7:05. Tickets are available by calling the Providence Medical Center Box Office at CommunityAmerica Ballpark at 913-328-5618.

Box score:

– Story from Matt Fulks, T-Bones

KCK RBI kicks off season

Teams from KCK RBI participated in an opening day tournament recently. Special guests were Mayor Mark Holland and Assistant UG Administrator Bob Roddy. (Photo from KCK RBI)

The Kansas City, Kan., Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities kicked off its fifth season of play with a Parade of Champions May 16 at Eisenhower Middle School, followed by the 2014 Joe Hooker Memorial preseason tournament during the weekend.

In five seasons, KCK RBI has grown from 155 youth to 904 league participants with more than 40 teams filled with kids and participants who reside in Kansas City, Kan.

All league schedules for teams 12 and under have been posted at (see document section). The season for youth ages 13-18 began the first week in June.

Special guests attending the KCK RBI opening day was Mayor Mark Holland, Assistant County Administrator Bob Roddy and KC Royals mascot, Sluggerrr.

“In five years we have grown from 150 kids to over 900 kids and raised our league grade point average from 1.9 to 2.6, we are excited about the future of the program both athletically and academically and we are thankful that Mayor Holland took the time out of his busy schedule to attend our opening day,” said Cle Ross, KCK RBI executive director. “Now we have kids that not only want to be Major League Citizens they also want to be future executives within the community we all reside in which will help create a positive environment for all parties involved.”

Joe Hooker Memorial Tournament results:

Coach Pitch Joe Hooker Memorial Tournament: Champs- Yankees. Runner ups- Rays, 3rd place Orioles. All games were played at Eisenhower.

9-10 Joe Hooker Memorial Tournament: Royals- Champs, Orioles 2nd place, 3rd place Dodger. All games were played at City Park.

11-12 Joe Hooker Memorial Tournament: Rangers- Champs, Royals- 2nd place, Tigers 3rd place. All games were played at City Park.

Sponsors of the event included Freightquote, Calley Tires, and The Meal Ticket . Tournament organizers thanked the Kansas City, Kan., Parks and Rec Department for their assistance in making the event possible.

Teams from KCK RBI participated in an opening day tournament recently. (Photo from KCK RBI)

Teams from KCK RBI participated in an opening day tournament recently. (Photo from KCK RBI)

Teams from KCK RBI participated in an opening day tournament recently. (Photo from KCK RBI)

Teams from KCK RBI participated in an opening day tournament recently. (Photo from KCK RBI)