Sporting Kansas City at Sacramento Republic FC
2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup | Semifinals
Wednesday, July 27 | 9:30 p.m. CT
Heart Health Park | Sacramento, CA
Streaming | ESPN+ (link)
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
Sporting Kansas City will play for a berth in the 2022 U.S. Open Cup Final when the team takes on Sacramento Republic FC at 9:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Heart Health Park in the California capital.
Open to all professional and amateur teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer, the 2022 U.S. Open Cup featured the largest field in the competition’s modern era (1995-present) with 103 clubs from all levels of the sport. Four teams remain in a semifinal round which will feature a doubleheader on Wednesday, beginning with Orlando City SC and the New York Red Bulls at 6:30 p.m. CT followed by Sporting Kansas City and Sacramento Republic FC at 9:30 p.m. CT.
Contested since 1914 and named in honor of former Kansas City Wizards owner Lamar Hunt, this year's U.S. Open Cup will crown a champion on September 7 with the tournament winner to receive $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League and the honor of having its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy.
Sporting has prevailed in 24 U.S. Open Cup matches since 2012 -- more than any other team in American soccer -- and owns four U.S. Open Cup titles in club history as champions in 2004, 2012, 2015 and 2017. Manager Peter Vermes' squad has advanced to the semifinals for a sixth time in club history with a thrilling 4-2 win in extra time against FC Dallas in the Round of 32, a 2-1 come-from-behind rally against the Houston Dynamo in the Round of 16 and a 6-0 victory over USL League One champions Union Omaha in the quarterfinals.
Now, Sporting Kansas City hits the road to face USL Championship side Sacramento Republic FC - marking the first time KC plays away at a USL club in the U.S. Open Cup since visiting the Minnesota Thunder in 2009 and the first time KC has traveled to California for a U.S. Open Cup match since the Wizards played the San Francisco Bay Seals in 1997.
Wednesday's match-up will be the first-ever meeting between Sporting KC and Sacramento, although Sporting KC II played the Republic seven times from 2016-2018 including a pair of postseason victories. Sporting KC forward Daniel Salloi and midfielder Felipe Hernandez - who each scored twice in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals -- both have experience playing at Heart Health Park with Sporting KC II.
Located on the grounds of the Cal Expo, the 11,569-seat stadium was constructed for Sacramento's debut season in 2014 and Wednesday's showdown -- which will be played amidst the backdrop of the California State Fair -- is sold out in anticipation of the venue's biggest match since the Republic hosted and won the USL Pro Championship in September 2014.
Preki, a Sporting Legend who played nine seasons in Kansas City, coached Sacramento to the title in 2014 with a team led by Championship MVP Rodrigo Lopez. The club's first ever signing is now in his third stint with the club and his four goals in this year's U.S. Open Cup are most of any player. The 35-year-old playmaker has scored the second most goals in club history, however missed the team's match on Saturday in health and safety protocols.
Sacramento Republic FC General Manager Todd Dunivant - a U.S. Open Cup champion and five-time MLS Cup winner as a player - and head coach Mark Briggs revamped the Republic roster for 2022 with only six players remaining from last season, including 25-year-old Maalique Foster and 26-year-old Luis Felipe. Foster leads the team with four league goals in only 305 minutes of action while Felipe has scored game-winning goals in Sacramento's last three U.S. Open Cup matches.
The Republic roster features eight players with MLS appearances in their careers -- including the addition of 31-year-old stiker Deshorn Brown last week -- as well as 30-year-old winger Keko Gontan, who has made 135 appearances in Spain's La Liga and Italy's Serie A. Defensively, Sacramento is anchored by USL Championship Golden Glove winner Danny Vitiello in goal and a back three of Lee Desmond, Conor Donovan and Dan Casey. In the trio's 11 starts together this year, Sacramento has allowed only five goals and is yet to concede multiple goals in a game.
The first lower-division team to reach the tournament's semifinals since 2017, the Republic are now aiming to be the first club outside MLS to reach the final since 2008 and the first lower-division team to defeat an MLS club in the semifinals since 1999. The club's run began with a 6-0 win over Portland Timbers U-23's, followed by a 2-1 win over Central Valley Fuego and a 2-0 win over Phoenix Rising FC. Sacramento then produced back-to-back upsets of MLS clubs, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes by a 2-0 scoreline in the Round of 16 before beating the LA Galaxy with a 2-1 result on the road in the quarterfinals.
After going 5-0-0 in June, Sacramento are amidst a four-game winless run in the month of July during which the club suffered its first home loss of the year (9-1-3). The Republic have historically enjoyed a significant home field advantage in the U.S. Open Cup, prevailing in 16 of their 17 home matches in the competition including wins in all three matches against MLS opponents.
Following Wednesday's match, The Final Whistle postgame show will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Chad Reynolds and Dave Borchardt. Listeners can tune in via the Sporting KC mobile app or online at 810WHB.com.