Sporting Kansas City progressed to the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 with a dominant 3-0 third-round victory over Tulsa Athletic on Tuesday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
In a one-sided encounter that pitted four-time Open Cup champion Sporting against National Professional Soccer League side Tulsa, the hosts used goals from Daniel Salloi, Alan Pulido and Marinos Tizonis to secure the club’s first win of the season in cathartic fashion. Goalkeeper John Pulskamp also saved a first-half penalty to preserve the shutout, while midfielder Gadi Kinda made his long-awaited return to the field for his first appearance since November 2021 after overcoming a knee injury.
Sporting has now prevailed in 12 consecutive Open Cup home matches dating back to 2015 and will learn its opponent in the Round of 32, scheduled for May 9-10, on Thursday. Before then, Manager Peter Vermes’ men will continue their MLS regular season campaign on Saturday by hosting CF Montreal at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are available at SeatGeek.com and the action will air live on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.
Jake Davis, earning the second start of his Sporting career, created the game’s first chance in the seventh minute. Latching onto a delectable diagonal ball from Remi Walter, Davis volleyed a first-time delivery across the face of goal that narrowly evaded the outstretched foot of Open Cup debutant Pulido.
An inspired start from Tulsa was rewarded in the 17th minute when forward Jordan Watson raced behind Sporting’s backline and drew a penalty, falling to the turf under a challenge from Sporting goalkeeper John Pulskamp. Undeterred, Pulskamp atoned for the play by saving Chris Taylor’s subsequent penalty kick, diving low to cast aside the strike and keep the contest goalless.
At the opposite end, a pair of Sporting’s Designated Players combined as Kinda slipped Pulido into the box in the 24th minute. The Mexican international muscled past his defender and fired from a tight angle, sending his shot marginally off target. Less than a minute later, Salloi dragged an open look inches wide.
Kinda’s long-awaited return to the pitch concluded at the half-hour juncture when he was replaced by fellow midfielder Ethan Bryant, one of three Sporting Kansas City II players called up on short-term loans for the match alongside Academy products Mo Abualnadi and Sebastian Cruz.
Salloi provided Sporting’s deserved breakthrough in the 32nd minute. Dispossessing Roman Torres 25 yards from goal, he unleashed a low drive that beat Tulsa goalkeeper Bryson Reed at the near post. Salloi extended his club-record Open Cup scoring haul to eight goals on the play and now has 50 goals for Sporting in all competitions.
Bryant was quick to involve himself in Sporting’s attack and nearly doubled Sporting’s advantage two minutes before halftime, settling a square pass from Salloi and bending a shot just over the crossbar from 15 yards. Shortly thereafter, Pulido again went close as his thunderous blast near the edge of the penalty area went begging.
A lively start to the second half saw Salloi clip a delightful ball across goal to an unmarked Felipe Hernandez in the 47th minute, but his venomous volley was blocked by a host of Tulsa defenders camped inside the six-yard box. Salloi was then on the receiving end of Walter’s diagonal through ball three minutes later, side-footing his shot agonizingly wide.
Pulido lifted his side ahead 2-0 in the 54th minute. Salloi did brilliantly to receive a pass with his back to goal, swivel to create space and whip in a cross for Pulido, who made no mistake by hammering a first-time finish into the roof of the net for his first goal at Children’s Mercy Park since June 2021 and his first goal for the club in any form since August 2021.
Midfielder Erik Thommy—one of three Sporting substitutes to enter at the hour mark alongside Cruz and veteran Roger Espinoza—almost added a third in spectacular fashion on 63 minutes, his superbly struck free kick dipping over Tulsa’s four-man wall and smacking off the inside of the post before skipping out of play.
Tzionis opened his 2023 scoring account in the 68th minute, exploiting acres of space by running onto Thommy’s penetrative pass and finishing low inside the near post from an acute angle for his third career Sporting goal. Hernandez then tried his luck a few minutes later, robbing a Tulsa defender of possession and slicing his shot inches wide of the target, before Tzionis’ bid for a brace was denied impressively as Joseph Ruiz retreated to clear the Cypriot international’s strike off the goal line.
In a game of one-way traffic, Bryant, Cruz and Abualnadi each contributed to dangerous attacks over the final quarter-hour. The clearest of the chances came in second-half stoppage time when Thommy’s cutback pass met an open Cruz, whose side-footed shot spun a fraction wide.
2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup | Third Round
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 62 degrees and cloudy
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Jake Davis, Robert Castellanos, Andreu Fontas, Robert Voloder (Mo Abualnadi 81'); Remi Walter (Roger Espinoza 60'), Felipe Hernandez, Gadi Kinda (Ethan Bryant 31'); Marinos Tzionis, Alan Pulido (C) (Erik Thommy 60'), Daniel Salloi (Sebastian Cruz 60')
Subs Not Used: Kendall McIntosh, Chris Rindov
Tulsa Athletic: Bryson Reed; Roman Torres (Javier Reyes 82'), Jonathan Harris, Chris Taylor, Alejandro Chavez; Aaron Ugbah, Joseph Garcia (Aboubakr Diallo 66'), Vinicius De Oliveira (C) (Ciaran Winters 52'), Joseph Ruiz, Mitchell Cashion (Ruben Torres 82'); Jordan Watson (Sefan Svetanovic 66')
Subs Not Used: Brady Moody, Riolan Mello
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 1 (unassisted) 32'
SKC -- Alan Pulido 1 (Daniel Salloi 1) 54'
SKC -- Marinos Tzionis 1 (Erik Thommy 1) 68'
TUL -- Roman Torres (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 59'
TUL -- Aaron Ugbah (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 64'
TUL -- Jonathan Harris (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 90+2'
Shots on Goal
Referee: Jose Lara
Assistant Referee: Matthew Seem
Assistant Referee: Artyom Arustamyan
Fourth Official: Nathan Colling