Sporting KC advances to U.S. Open Cup semifinals

KC forward Latif Blessing took a shot in the first half. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Dallas midfielder Ryan Hollingshead made a sliding last-second block on a shot by Gerso Fernandes that had gotten past the Dallas goalkeeper. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Story and photos by Brian Terrel

Sporting KC advanced to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals over FC Dallas Tuesday night in a tough extra-time game marked by three ejections.

Sporting broke open a scoreless game with three goals during the 30-minute overtime period to win the game 3 to 0. The Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament played among the U.S. professional and semiprofessional leagues.

Kansas City moves on to face the San Jose Earthquakes in the semifinals. The location and date of the game will be announced Friday.

Sporting KC honored its late owner Neal Patterson with a tribute and moment of silence before the game, and with armbands worn by both teams.

In the first half, Dallas gained a man advantage early when Sporting defender Seth Sinovic was given a red card for tripping Dallas’s Michael Barrios on a breakaway in the 15th minute.

Shorthanded, Sporting still attempted to continue its attack through the remainder of the first half, but by the second half it had settled into its own end, parrying a series of Dallas attacks.

Homegrown talent Erik Palmer-Brown won multiple challenges in the penalty area and goalkeeper Tim Melia made some timely saves to keep Dallas off the board throughout regulation time.

The overtime period followed the same pattern of Dallas control until Dallas defender Maximiliano Urruti was ejected in the 101st minute for his dangerous high kick that sent KC defender Ike Opara out of the game on a stretcher.

With the teams even at 10 men, Sporting struck. Forward Latif Blessing, whose frantic pace drove his team all night, scored off an assist by midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

Sporting gained a man advantage when Dallas midfielder Javier Morales was ejected in stoppage time, and then Blessing quickly struck again, putting the home team up 2 – 0.

KC forward Daniel Salloi closed out the scoring with a goal in the second overtime period, counter-attacking FC Dallas and knocking in a pass from Feilhaber.

Opara was held at a hospital overnight with a concussion. Sporting KC plays next in an MLS match at Real Salt Lake on July 22.

Photos copyright 2017 by Brian Terrel

Sporting KC forward Latif Blessing vented his frustration as his header sailed left of the goal during first half stoppage time. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Gerso Fernandes was taken to the ground by Dallas defender Hernan Grana. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Tempers flared between the teams as the medical staff treated Ike Opara on the field. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Latif Blessing did a cartwheel and back flip to celebrate his second goal in overtime. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Goalkeeper Tim Melia made a diving stop in overtime to keep Dallas scoreless. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Latif Blessing worked the ball past Hernan Grana. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Forward Daniel Salloi knocked in a goal to make the score 3 – 0. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Latif Blessing celebrated the victory with some dancing in front of the North End fans. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

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