Match Recap

Recap: Sporting surges into Open Cup quarterfinals with 4-0 win over FC Tulsa

Sporting Kansas City surged into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals behind a dominant 4-0 victory over FC Tulsa in the tournament’s round of 16 on Tuesday at Children’s Mercy Park.

Felipe Hernandez bagged a brace to go with goals on both sides of halftime from Stephen Afrifa and Marinos Tzionis, propelling the four-time Open Cup champions in to the final eight of the 2024 competition. Sporting will learn its quarterfinal opponent Wednesday at 9 p.m. CT during a livestream draw on the U.S. Soccer YouTube channel.

A reshuffled Sporting lineup featured seven changes from Saturday’s 3-2 road loss at Austin FC, including the return of center back Dany Rosero after the Colombian had missed four straight matches due to injury and the introduction of Afrifa, who earned his first start since July 2023. It was Sporting’s seventh different starting XI in as many matches across all competitions and the first time the front three of Afrifa, Tzionis and Willy Agada started together.

Manager Peter Vermes’ side was rampant from start to finish, holding 74% of possession and a 34-3 advantage in shot attempts, and put their USL Championship counterparts under significant pressure from the opening whistle. Tulsa goalkeeper Michael Creek was the busiest man of the night, producing 10 saves, and did well to dive at full extension to cast aside Erik Thommy’s venomous blast in the 10 minute. Thommy threatened again shortly thereafter, receiving an incisive pass from fellow German Tim Leibold before seeing his deflected strike palmed away by Creek.

Center back Andreu Fontas almost etched his name onto the scoresheet in the 20th minute, blazing high after Jake Davis had a long-range effort blocked through traffic. Creek then made a stunning kick save to thwart Agada on the doorstep before Afrifa’s volley on the rebound pinged the top of the crossbar. Less than a minute later, Afrifa was again denied by the woodwork as his sweetly struck curler from 25-yards rattled the post.

Tulsa’s forays into the attack were few and far between, but the visitors almost took an unlikely lead in the 32nd minute when Phillip Goodrum strode down the right side and whipped in a cross for Camilo Ponce to nod goalward. Sporting goalkeeper John Pulskamp did brilliantly to drop low and get his mitts on the header and keep the game goalless.

At the opposite end, Sporting kept knocking on the door and were eventually rewarded in the 37th minute. After Rosero’s powerful header off a corner kick was palmed over by Creek, Hernandez uncorked a free kick left of the penalty area that took a wicked deflection into the back of the net to give Sporting a 1-0 advantage.

Agada could have doubled Sporting’s cushion in the 43rd minute, but his side volley destined for the left corner smacked off the side of Afrifa and Tulsa was spared its blushes. Agada was again unlucky in first-half stoppage time, latching onto a Thommy cross only for Creek to make another impressive save.

Afrifa opened his Sporting KC scoring account on the cusp of halftime. After Agada’s leaping header kissed the left post, the 23-year-old Canadian was on hand to smash the rebound into the roof of the net to push the margin to 2-0 and record his second professional goal, having scored for Sporting KC II in July 2023.

Tulsa’s wretched evening went from bad to worst 30 seconds after the restart when defender Patrick Seagrist was sent off for his second yellow card offense. Sporting’s superiority only became more pronounced from there, with Afrifa and Agada connecting in the 53rd minute before the latter’s booming shot was blocked behind for a corner kick.

Hernandez pocketed his second goal of the night and Sporting’s third with 63 minutes on the clock. Embarking on a lung-busting run down the right channel, the homegrown midfielder received a wide pass from Agada, squared up his defender and finished low across Creek and into the far left corner of the net. Hernandez has now scored four of his eight career goals for Sporting in the Open Cup, having struck twice in a 6-0 quarterfinal win over Union Omaha on June 22, 2022.

Tzionis extended Sporting’s lead to 4-0 two minutes later, collecting a clever ball from Afrifa and firing high past Creek from the right side of the box. Like Hernandez, Tzionis has enjoyed a prolific Open Cup tenure with Sporting, scoring four of his five career goals for the club in the tournament. With four goals apiece in the competition, Tzionis and Hernandez are tied for seventh on Sporting’s all-time Open Cup scoring chart.

Pulskamp was forced into a save in the 73rd minute, smothering a shot from Tulsa substitute Stefan Stojanovic, before Sporting brought on a slew of reinforcements to close out the match—namely Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi. Pulido had a great chance to notch Sporting’s fifth goal in the 88th minute, but his breakaway shot hit the crossbar. Creek’s outstanding display carried into the final moments, as he did superbly to thwart Agada and Salloi in quick succession before referee Sergii Demianchuk whistled for full time.

Sporting's MLS regular season campaign will resume Saturday with a trip to face the Portland Timbers at 9:30 p.m. CT. The Western Conference clash will be shown live on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV with local radio coverage on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.

2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup | Round of 16
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 10,088
Weather: 69 degrees and sunny

Sporting Kansas City 4-0 FC Tulsa
Sporting Kansas City
FC Tulsa

Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Jake Davis, Dany Rosero (Robert Castellanos 46'), Andreu Fontas, Tim Leibold; Nemanja Radoja (C) (Daniel Salloi 68'), Felipe Hernandez, Erik Thommy (Memo Rodriguez 46'); Marinos Tzionis (Johnny Russell 75'), Willy Agada, Stephen Afrifa (Alan Pulido 76')

Subs Not Used: Ryan Schewe, Zorhan Bassong

FC Tulsa: Michael Creek; Owen Damm, Rashid Tetteh (Edwin Laszo 46'), Sebastian Sanchez, Patrick Seagrist; Justin Portillo, Boubacar Diallo (Diogo Pacheco 70'); Alexander Dalou (Stefan Stojanovic 46'), Blaine Ferri (Milo Yosef 60'), Camilo Ponce; Phillip Goodrum (C) (Santiago Sanchez 79')

Subs Not Used: Joey Roggeveen, Harvey St. Clair

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Felipe Hernandez 1 (unassisted) 37'
SKC -- Stephen Afrifa 1 (unassisted) 45+2'
SKC -- Felipe Hernandez 2 (Willy Agada 1) 63'
SKC -- Marinos Tzionis 2 (Stephen Afrifa 1) 65'

Misconduct Summary:
TUL -- Justin Portillo (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 25'
TUL -- Patrick Seagrist (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 30'
TUL -- Patrick Seagrist (red card - 2nd yellow card; unsporting behavior) 46'
SKC -- Stephen Afrifa (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 71'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Sergii Demianchuk
Assistant Referee: Artyom Arustamyan
Assistant Referee: Matthew Rodman
Fourth Official: Drew Klemp