Sporting Kansas City's run in the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup came to an end with a 3-1 fifth round defeat to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Second-half substitute Brad Davis cut Sporting Kansas City's deficit in half with a goal against his former club in the 61st minute, but Mauro Manotas' brace and Alex's header sent Houston through to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals and erased the visitors' hopes of a second straight tournament title.
After spending the previous month with the U.S. Men's National Team at Copa America Centenario, defender Matt Besler and winger Graham Zusi moved back into Manager Peter Vermes' starting lineup for their first club appearances since May 21. Goalkeeper Alec Kann earned his second straight start in the tournament, Kevin Ellis stepped in at right back and Diego Rubio spearheaded the attack as center forward.
Seeking a fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title in club history, Sporting Kansas City crafted its first chance in the fourth minute. Benny Feilhaber's perfectly weighted diagonal ball found Zusi on the right flank, but the U.S. international's low cross narrowly evaded an outstretched Rubio at the edge of the six-yard area.
Houston would make the visitors rue the miss just three minutes later with the game's opening goal. Alex spun away from Zusi and Mustivar and carried the ball into the attacking third, spreading it wide left to Abdoulie Mansally. The fullback's curling cross was hammered home near the penalty spot by a sliding Manotas.
Sporting Kansas City would improve as the first half unfolded, nearly grabbing an equalizer twice before the break. A superb passing sequence in the 26th minute culminated with Hallisey crossing low for Rubio near the six-yard box, but the Chilean's deft redirect on goal was saved impressively by goalkeeper Joe Willis' extended foot. Vermes' side continued to gain a foothold and created more danger on the stroke of halftime, but Zusi's close-range effort following a one-two with Feilhaber was smothered by Willis.
Manotas' bid for a second goal was denied by the woodwork three minutes after the restart. The forward raced onto the end of a through ball and rounded Kann, but his shot from a tight angle hit the near post and was subsequently cleared. Alex would double his side's lead in the 55th minute, however, latching onto a diving header from Wenger and nodding past Kann.
In need of a lifeline, Vermes inserted Davis shortly before the hour mark. The substitution paid instant dividends when Rubio received a pass from Hallisey and powered down the right side of the field before squaring to an unmarked Davis, who applied the simple finish for his third goal of the season in all competitions. Rubio, meanwhile, tallied his first assist in Sporting KC colors.
The defending U.S. Open Cup champions would enjoy the lion's share of possession for the remainder of the evening, but were ultimately pegged back again in the 84th minute. Substitute Boniek Garcia slipped a ball through to Manotas, who completed his excellent evening with a cool finish to the far corner for his third goal of the tournament.
Sporting Kansas City (6-8-4, 22 points) will resume their MLS regular season campaign on Sunday, hosting defending Eastern Conference champion Columbus Crew SC (3-5-7, 16 points) at Children's Mercy Park. The interconference clash will kick off at 6 p.m. CT on FS1, FOX Deportes, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM. Supporters can secure their tickets for the match at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Round of 16
BBVA Compass Stadium | Houston, Texas
Weather: 90 degrees and partly cloudy
|Sporting Kansas City (1-1-0)||0||1||1|
|Houston Dynamo (2-0-0)||1||2||3|
Sporting Kansas City: Alec Kann; Kevin Ellis, Lawrence Olum, Matt Besler, Jimmy Medranda; Soni Mustivar (Brad Davis 58), Benny Feilhaber, Roger Espinoza (C); Graham Zusi, Diego Rubio (Dom Dwyer 71), Connor Hallisey
Subs Not Used: Tim Melia, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara, Seth Sinovic, Jacob Peterson
Houston Dynamo: Joe Willis; Sheanon Williams, David Horst (C), Agus, Abdoulie Mansally (Jalil Anibaba 46); David Rocha, Alex, Andrew Wenger (Boniek Garcia 77), Cristian Maidana (Collen Warner 67), Leonel Miranda; Mauro Manotas
Subs Not Used: Tyler Deric, Raul Rodriguez, Giles Barnes, Will Bruin
|Shots on Goal||3||5|
HOU -- Jalil Anibaba (caution; time wasting) 52
SKC -- Roger Espinoza (caution; unsporting behavior) 88
HOU -- Mauro Manotas 2 (Abdoulie Mansally 1) 7
HOU -- Alex 2 (Andrew Wenger 1) 55
SKC -- Brad Davis 1 (Diego Rubio 1) 61
HOU -- Mauro Manotas 3 (Boniek Garcia 1) 84