Sporting Kansas City advanced to the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals with a riveting 3-0 extra-time victory over FC Dallas on Tuesday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
After playing a man down for most of regulation, Sporting Kansas City struck three times in a wild extra session as Latif Blessing bagged a brace and Daniel Salloi added a late third to secure a spot in the semifinals against the San Jose Earthquakes. The U.S. Open Cup semifinal will take place in August, with exact date, time and location to be announced Friday.
Tuesday’s emotional triumph came two days after the passing of Sporting Kansas City co-owner Neal Patterson, Chairman and CEO of Cerner Corporation. The hosts promptly delivered a spirited performance amidst adversity, holding FC Dallas off the scoresheet after defender Seth Sinovic was issued a straight red card in the 15th minute.
FC Dallas would have two men ejected in extra time, as Maximiliano Urruti received his marching orders for a high kick to Ike Opara’s neck before Javier Morales saw red for violent conduct just two minutes after Blessing opened the scoring with 108 minutes on the clock. Sporting Kansas City translated their numerical advantage into two additional goals to cap off an unforgettable evening and extend the club’s unbeaten run to nine matches across all competitions.
The instant classic pitted the winners of each of the previous two U.S. Open Cup titles. FC Dallas entered the night as reigning champion, but their quest for a repeat was dashed by the 2015 titleholders. Sporting KC improved to 3-0-0 all-time against FC Dallas in the Open Cup, having defeated the club in 2004 and 2015 en route to winning the tournament championship on both occasions.
Manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the Sporting KC lineup from Thursday’s 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union. Roger Espinoza — who on Tuesday donned the captain’s armband and became Kansas City’s all-time leader in Open Cup minutes played — returned to the midfield in place of Benny Feilhaber, while Salloi made way for Gerso on the right side of a three-man attack. U.S. Men’s National Team trio Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi, meanwhile, were absent for the fourth straight match in all competitions due to CONCACAF Gold Cup obligations.
Both sides exchanged major scoring chances in the 10th minute. Diego Rubio fired wide near the penalty spot following a delightful combination between Jimmy Medranda and Gerso before Urruti volleyed high at the opposite end off a feed from Michael Barrios. Just four minutes later, Gerso ran onto Medranda’s through ball and rounded FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, but his shot was blocked on the goal line by a sliding Ryan Hollingshead.
The complexion of the match would change significantly in the 15th minute when Sinovic tripped Barrios to break up an FC Dallas counter. The defender was quickly shown the first red card of his professional career, giving the visitors a man advantage for the next 86 minutes of the game.
Barrios and Mauro Diaz pulled the trigger without success near the half-hour mark as Sporting Kansas City remained ambitious going forward themselves, with Blessing narrowly missing the target twice before halftime. Barrios threatened once more on the cusp of intermission, running onto a superb ball from Diaz and lashing wide to the right of the near post.
Another contentious moment came late in first-half stoppage time when Gerso’s goal was waved off by referee Younes Marrakchi after he deemed Rubio to have fouled Gonzalez on an aerial challenge a second earlier.
The second period was characterized by long spells of FC Dallas possession and a string of dangerous opportunities from head coach Oscar Pareja’s men. Sporting KC center back Erik Palmer-Brown was colossal in central defense, repeatedly winning multiple headers in a crowded penalty area, while Opara intervened crucially in the 51st minute to prevent Barrios’ low cross from finding Tesho Akindele. A cleaner look came in the 67th minute, but Urruti could only volley his strike above the crossbar from 15 yards.
Blessing was tireless throughout the night and almost struck on 69 minutes, only to see his right-footed blast skim beyond the post and hit the side-netting. FC Dallas endured another scare in the final minutes of regulation when Espinoza’s low piledriver was fumbled and gathered by Gonzalez.
FC Dallas continued to control territory, however, and Roland Lamah’s 20-yard turf-trimmer sizzled inches wide of goalkeeper Tim Melia’s lefthand post in the 83rd minute. Not long later, Melia produced a fantastic save to deny Urruti and send the tense affair to extra time.
An already feisty encounter would ooze with incredible drama over the final 30 minutes. Salloi, who entered late in the second half, dashed into the attacking third in the 96th minute and teed up Blessing whose shot was saved by a sprawling Gonzalez.
Marrakchi brandished his red card for the second time in the 101st minute, sending off Urruti for an unsafe high kick that forced Opara to be stretchered off the field and replaced by Kevin Ellis. The ejection restored numerical parity between the sides and swayed momentum even further into Sporting KC’s favor, setting the stage for the game-winning goal.
Blessing lifted his team into the lead in the 108th minute — three minutes into added time of the first overtime period. As a 91st-minute substitute, Benny Feilhaber would stamp his name on proceedings with a clever layoff that was calmly slotted into the back of the net by Blessing, much to the jubilation of an electric crowd at Children’s Mercy Park. It was Blessing’s first career Open Cup goal and Feilhaber’s seventh assist in the competition, ranking first on the club’s all-time charts.
Shortly after Morales picked up FC Dallas’ second red card, Blessing notched his second goal in jaw-dropping fashion. Salloi raced onto a Feilhaber pass and cut the ball back near the right endline. Medranda was late to arrive on the opposite side of the box and unfurled a rocket that was deftly steered into the net by Blessing, who was played onside by Atiba Harris near the goal line.
Gonzalez thwarted Blessing in his bid for a hat-trick in the 117th minute, making an impressive save one-on-one, but Salloi wouldn’t be denied Sporting Kansas City’s third. With FC Dallas caught with numbers forward, the 20-year-old received a pass from Feilhaber and prodded home for the proverbial dagger that sealed a remarkable victory.
Sporting Kansas City will now enjoy a 10-day break before continuing its MLS regular season campaign on July 22 at rivals Real Salt Lake. The match will kick off at 9 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO.
2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 91 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City||0||0||2||1||3|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara (Kevin Ellis 110+), Erik Palmer-Brown, Seth Sinovic; Roger Espinoza (C), Ilie, Jimmy Medranda; Gerso (Daniel Salloi 85), Diego Rubio (Benny Feilhaber 91), Latif Blessing
Subs Not Used: Andrew Dykstra, Colton Storm, Soni Mustivar, Soony Saad
FC Dallas: Jesse Gonzalez; Hernan Grana, Walker Zimmerman, Atiba Harris, Ryan Hollingshead (Javier Morales 88); Carlos Gruezo, Mauro Diaz (C), Victor Ulloa (Tesho Akindele 46), Michael Barrios, Roland Lamah (Cristian Colman 106); Maximiliano Urruti
Subs Not Used: Chris Seitz, Walker Hume, Aaron Guillen, Jacori Hayes
|Shots on Goal||9||6|
SKC -- Seth Sinovic (ejection; denial of obvious goal scoring opportunity) 15
FCD -- Victor Ulloa (caution; unsporting behavior) 47+
SKC -- Roger Espinoza (caution; unsporting behavior) 48+
FCD -- Mauro Diaz (caution; unsporting behavior) 62
SKC -- Jimmy Medranda (caution; unsporting behavior) 65
FCD -- Maximiliano Urruti (caution; unsporting behavior) 90
FCD -- Maximiliano Urruti (caution/ejection; unsporting behavior) 101
FCD -- Javier Morales (ejection; violent conduct) 110+
FCD -- Atiba Harris (caution; unsporting behavior) 120
SKC -- Latif Blessing 1 (Benny Feilhaber 1) 108+
SKC -- Latif Blessing 2 (Jimmy Medranda 1) 113+
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 2 (Benny Feilhaber 2) 118
Referee: Younes Marrakchi
Assistant Referee: Artyom Arustamyan
Assistant Referee: Ryan Cook
Fourth Official: Greg Dopka