Sporting Kansas City returns to Children’s Mercy Park for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matchup with the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT as two historic clubs look to stamp their spot in the Quarterfinals of America’s oldest soccer tournament.
One of the most successful MLS clubs in the U.S. Open Cup, Sporting KC’s four titles are tied for most amongst MLS clubs while the Dynamo have one Open Cup to their name. Sporting has also claimed three titles in the tournament since 2012, defeating the Dynamo en route to two (2015, 2017) of those cup wins.
Here are five storylines to know about as Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo duel it out in a single-elimination U.S. Open Cup match.
How did we get here?
It is win or go home Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park as Sporting and Houston face one another for the second time this season. Sporting knocked off Houston 1-0 off a Remi Walter goal, in the only previous matchup in 2022 which took place on March 5. In 2022 Open Cup play, Houston has played two matches against USL Championship sides. In the Third Round, they beat the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros 2-1 at home thanks to a stoppage-time own goal from the visitors. The Dynamo followed that up by beating San Antonio FC 1-0, also in front of their home fans.
Sporting has only had to play one Open Cup match, but it was one for the history books. After falling behind 2-0, Nikola Vujnovic and Marinos Tzionis netted their first Sporting KC goals to level the match. Tzionis scored eight minutes into second half stoppage time, the latest goal in regulation in club history, to force extra time. In extra-time, Khiry Shelton took over, forcing a Dallas own goal and banging home a goal for himself to lift Sporting past Dallas 4-2. The attention now turns to the Dynamo as a familiar foe comes to town.
We meet again
Not only have Sporting and the Dynamo faced each other this season already, but Wednesday will mark the sixth meeting in the Open Cup and fifth in the last six renditions of the competition. Sporting is 2-2-1 against Houston, with the one draw ending in a Sporting win after extra time. They have nine goals scored and conceded seven times against the Dynamo. Sporting has hosted Houston in the Open Cup one time, a 3-1 victory in 2015. In their last cup meeting, Houston got the better of Sporting, 4-2 at PNC Stadium in 2018. The next chapter in this storied rivalry will be written Wednesday evening.
Homecoming pt. 2
Paulo Nagamura, the head coach of the Houston Dynamo, returns to Kansas City as the head coach of the Houston Dynamo after a trophy ladened, five-year playing career with Sporting. Nagamura brought home two Open Cup titles and an MLS Cup in his time with Kansas City, starting all three of those matches. Alongside Nagamura down in Houston is assistant coach Jimmy Nielsen. The Danish keeper spent four seasons in Kansas City, capturing one Open Cup and one MLS Cup in his time with the club. The duo brings the Dynamo back to Children’s Mercy Park, a historically tough place to play in the Open Cup for visitors.
Children’s Mercy Park in the Cup
Since the club began playing in the Open Cup in 1996, Sporting KC is 21-7-3 in front of their home fans. Since the intimating atmosphere of Children’s Mercy Park came into play midway through the 2011 campaign, the stadium has hosted 19 Open Cup matches. Sporting has won 13 of those 19 matches, with two coming in penalties and one coming after extra time.
Sporting has also lifted two Dewar Cups in front of capacity Children’s Mercy Park crowds. The first trophy lift happened in 2012, with Sporting defeating the Seattle Sounders 3-2 in penalty kicks from the spot. No extra time was needed for the second one as Sporting handled the New York Red Bulls 2-1 with Daniel Salloi scoring in the match. As stated earlier, Houston has lost their only appearance at CMP in Open Cup play.
Dissecting the Dynamo
With the past in mind, it is time to look at Wednesday’s matchup between the 2022 Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo. In his first year at the helm, Nagamura has the Dynamo above the playoff line, 13 weeks into the season. Houston started off the season with results in six of their first seven matches, before entering a three-match losing skid. They rebounded with a 2-0 win against Nashville SC and a 3-0 win at the LA Galaxy sandwiching a loss at Seattle. They are led by newcomer and the Week 13 MLS Player of the Week Sebastian Ferreira who has five goals and three assists in 12 starts. MLS veteran Darwin Quintero has five goals and one assist.
The stage is set for Wednesday night. Tickets are on sale at SeatGeek.com and all Sporting KC Season Ticket Members have the match included in their ticket packages. For fans looking to watch the match, you can it via an ESPN+ subscription.