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

Sporting KC begins Lamar Hunt Open Cup campaign Wednesday at Sporting Park

Sporting Kansas City begins the club’s 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign against Minnesota United FC on Wednesday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The fourth round match will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and will be streamed live on The match will also be broadcast on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Tickets for the midweek matchup may be available on or at the Sporting Park box offices on game day.

Because of the heat advisory expected today, all ticket holders will be permitted to bring one bottle of water into Sporting Park. The bottle must be sealed and no larger than 20 ounces, and the bottle’s cap will be removed at the gate upon entrance.

Sporting Kansas City has won the Open Cup title on two previous occasions. In 2004, Kansas City defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Arrowhead Stadium and in 2012 Sporting KC defeated the Seattle Sounders in a penalty kick shootout at Sporting Park.

In 2004, Igor Simutenkov’s second-half stoppage-time goal gave Kansas City its first Open Cup title. Eight years later, Sporting Kansas City hoisted the trophy for a second time after a series of late game heroics. Sporting KC opened the scoring in the 86th minute of regulation, but Seattle responded two minutes later with an equalizer forcing the match into extra time. After two scoreless 15-minute extra-time periods Sporting KC defeated Seattle 3-2 on penalty kicks with Paulo Nagamura’s conversion standing as the game-winner.

In 2013, Sporting KC lost to USL PRO affiliate Orlando City 1-0 in the fourth round of the tournament with Long Tan scoring the game’s lone goal in the second minute.

Minnesota United enters the fourth round of the tournament after securing a 1-0 result at Des Moines Menace on May 28. With the third round victory, Minnesota is one of six NASL teams remaining in this year’s edition of the Open Cup. The Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina Railhawks and the New York Cosmos have each defeated an MLS opponent in Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA and the New York Red Bulls, respectively, to secure a spot in the Round of 16.

Minnesota United won the 2014 North American Soccer League spring season with a 6-1-2 record, edging out the New York Cosmos by a single point. Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos joined MLS for the League’s inaugural season in 1996 and was teammates with Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes at the New York-New Jersey MetroStars. 23-year-old forward Christian Ramirez led the NASL in goals (5) and assists (4) this spring and scored the game-winner in Minnesota’s third round victory over the Menace.

Minnesota’s roster also boasts several veteran players that have played professionally in Europe including: Richard Garcia (England), Juliano Vicentini (Italy) and Minnesota United’s all-time leading goal scorer Simone Bracalello (Italy).

Should Sporting KC earn a victory against Minnesota on Wednesday, the club will advance to the Round of 16 to host the winner of the Portland Timbers and the Orlando City U-23s. That match will be at Sporting Park on Tuesday, June 24, and tickets will go on sale to the public on Thursday, June 19, at 10 a.m.

The 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the 101st edition of the tournament, began on May 7 featuring 68 teams. The oldest annual tournament in American sports history, the U.S. Open Cup has origins in 1914 and is named after Lamar Hunt, the original founder of Sporting Kansas City.

– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting KC wins 2-0 on road

Despite playing shorthanded for more than 70 minutes on Friday, Sporting Kansas City claimed a 2-0 road win over the Houston Dynamo.

Soony Saad, making his first start of the season, netted the game-winner and fellow forward Dom Dwyer added a second-half penalty kick for his League-leading 11th goal of the year.

Goalkeeper Eric Kronberg made four saves for his sixth shutout of the season, most in MLS, and lowered his goals against average to 0.93 in 2014. With the win, Sporting KC moves within one point of Eastern Conference leaders New England and snaps a five-game winless streak dating back to a 3-0 road win at Montreal on May 10.

Already coping with injuries to Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers and Ike Opara along with international absences for Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City lost Paulo Nagamura to a head injury in the game’s seventh minute and Antonio Dovale was shown a straight red card less than 15 minutes later for an off-the-ball incident. At halftime, manager Peter Vermes was forced to use his final two substitutions as Benny Feilhaber and Igor Juliao required second-half replacements.

Nevertheless, Sporting Kansas City stretched the team’s unbeaten streak against Houston to seven games (including postseason) with a fourth straight clean sheet at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Sporting Kansas City recorded only three shots in the first half, however nearly took the lead twice before Saad’s 45th-minute strike. In the 12th minute, rookie midfielder Alex Martinez settled an errant header from Kofi Sarkodie and broke into the penalty before sending his shot just wide of the near post with Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric rushing off his line.

Dwyer nearly struck in the 41st minute after capitalizing on a mishit pass from Servando Carrasco. Dwyer beat Deric to the loose ball, flicked a header to himself and was preparing to put the finishing touch into an empty net if not for the timely intervention of Dynamo defender Eric Brunner.

Saad silenced the home crowd seconds before first-half stoppage time on a scoring sequence started by Benny Feilhaber. After intercepting a pass from Brunner and then bearing the brunt of Brunner’s reckless challenge, Feilhaber slipped the ball to his left for Saad. The 21-year-old forward buried his first-time shot from 22 yards out inside the far post for his first goal of the year and sixth of his career.

Houston’s only shot on goal in the opening half came in the 24th minute from the foot of Alexander Lopez on a 30-yard strike pushed over the crossbar by Eric Kronberg. The Dynamo came close again in the 33rd minute on a corner kick volleyed at the backpost by Will Bruin and nearly re-directed into the net by Jermaine Taylor if not for a block from Seth Sinovic.

Deric, making his fourth career start and first since 2012 in place of Tally Hall, was also credited with four saves on Friday and came outside his penalty area in the 47th minute to thwart Dwyer from running onto a well-weighted pass by Martinez. Deric then did well to get his hand to a blistering shot by Seth Sinovic and tipped the long-range effort over the crossbar in the 68th minute.

Sporting Kansas City, who lead all MLS teams in chances created from set play this season, earned a penalty kick on the ensuing corner. Saad’s delivery was headed by Dwyer at the near post and blocked by the arm of AJ Cochran inside the six-yard box.

Dwyer, Major League Soccer’s Player of the Month in May with six goals, stepped to the spot and successfully converted his fourth penalty of the year inside the right post. He’s now tied with New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips for the MLS goal-scoring lead with 11 goals, most by a KC player since Kei Kamara (2012) and Josh Wolff (2009) struck for the same number of goals in a season.

Dwyer nearly bagged a brace with a breakaway in the 81st minute. Martinez again threaded a pass into space for the Englishman but Deric stood his ground and punched away the chip attempt.

On the opposite end, Kronberg made a pair of saves in second-half stoppage time to preserve the shutout. Kronberg turned away Jason Johnson’s effort in traffic in the 91st minute and made his final save of the match from close range on Giles Barnes in the 96th minute.

With a three-week World Cup break before the team’s next MLS match in Portland on June 27, Sporting Kansas City will now shift the team’s attention to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The club will play host to Minnesota United FC (NASL) on June 18 at Sporting Park in the fourth round, with the winner advancing to entertain either the Portland Timbers or Orlando City U23’s (PDL) in the round of 16 one week later.

Tickets, starting at $14, are available for the U.S. Open Cup home match via or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
– Story from Sporting KC