Another heavy dose of U.S. Open Cup drama engulfed Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday night as Sporting Kansas City edged the San Jose Earthquakes in a heart-pounding penalty kick shootout.
A first-half equalizer from Diego Rubio and shootout saves from Tim Melia gave Sporting Kansas City just enough to progress to the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, which will take place Sept. 20 at Children’s Mercy Park. The end result was undoubtedly a fair one, as Manager Peter Vermes’ men were rewarded for their dominance over 120 minutes of action against a plucky San Jose side that fell just short of its first Open Cup final appearance.
In our newest Beyond the Box Score, we visit a variety of relevant statistical storylines to emerge from Wednesday’s encounter.
For Sporting Kansas City and its supporters, Wednesday represented another extra-time epic that will be fondly remembered in the glory-stricken annals of Children’s Mercy Park. Last night’s match was the fifth in stadium history to go to extra time, and Sporting Kansas City has prevailed on all five occasions.
Sporting KC extra-time matches at Children's Mercy Park
|08/08/12||U.S. Open Cup Final||Seattle Sounders FC||T 1-1 (W 3-2 in PKs)|
|11/06/13||Eastern Conference Semifinals||New England Revolution||W 3-1 (AET)|
|12/07/13||MLS Cup Final||Real Salt Lake||T 1-1 (W 7-6 in PKs)|
|07/11/17||U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal||FC Dallas||W 3-0 (AET)|
|08.09/17||U.S. Open Cup Semifinal||San Jose Earthquakes||T 1-1 (W 5-4 in PKs)|
Manufacturing the perfect goal
As with any dramatic Cup game, the joy of victory didn’t come without setbacks that were overcome earlier in the match. San Jose shocked the home crowd when Danny Hoesen fired his side ahead in the fourth minute — the first Open Cup goal conceded by Sporting KC this season.
The leveler would come in the 32nd minute as the product of a remarkable build-up involving every single Sporting KC field player. In a flowing, 18-pass move that spanned 53 seconds, Rubio applied the 19th and final touch with a close-range finish to record his second tally of the year. The 18-pass sequence was Sporting Kansas City’s longest of the season leading to a goal, with Melia the only one not involved in the patient, crisp and incisive attack.
Rubio’s goal was a fitting highlight to his career game. The Chilean forward put five shots on goal and recorded 11 total shot attempts, both Sporting KC career-highs in all competitions, while suffering a game-high five fouls. Rubio capped off his strong performance with a successful penalty in the second round of the shootout, setting Sporting KC on its way to victory.
Melia's the man
In the immediate aftermath of the shootout, Melia became the man of the hour. The Sporting KC goalkeeper had just two saves to make through 120 minutes on Wednesday, but his pair of stops to bookend the shootout were heroic. Melia came up big in the first round when he thwarted veteran forward Chris Wondolowski, just seconds after Benny Feilhaber had his PK saved by Andrew Tarbell. His match-winning denial would come in the sixth round when Victor Bernardez’s low drive was batted away, igniting wild celebrations inside Children’s Mercy Park.
Melia retained his Open Cup immortality on Wednesday, moving to 7-0-2 in the competition as a Sporting KC player. Both draws were penalty shootout victories, with last night’s triumph following the 2015 final in Philadelphia.
Tim Melia: Open Cup Game Log with Sporting KC
|06/16/15||Fourth Round||Saint Louis FC||W 1-0|
|07/01/15||Round of 16||FC Dallas||W 6-2|
|07/21/15||Quarterfinal||Houston Dynamo||W 3-1|
|08/12/15||Semifinal||Real Salt Lake||W 3-1|
|09/30/15||Final||Philadelphia Union||T 1-1 (3-2 PKs)|
|06/14/17||Fourth Round||Minnesota United FC||W 4-0|
|06/28/17||Round of 16||Houston Dynamo||W 2-0|
|07/11/17||Quarterfinal||FC Dallas||W 3-0 (AET)|
|08/09/17||Semifinal||San Jose Earthquakes||T 1-1 (5-4 PKs)|
An in-depth look at Wednesday’s box score suggests just how dominant Sporting Kansas City was against their MLS counterparts. Vermes’ side controlled territory, possession and laid constant siege on the San Jose goal, resulting in each of the following season-highs:
- 31 shots (their third-most in a competitive match in recorded history)
- 12 shots on goal (their most in a competitive match since May 2016)
- 15 corners (their most in a competitive match in recorded history)
- 753 passes (their most in a competitive match since May 2014)
- 89 percent passing accuracy (their highest mark in a competitive match since May 2014)
Tough to beat
Lastly — though certainly not of least relevance — Sporting Kansas City extended its unbeaten run across all competitions to 13 matches since the start of June. That equals the club record first set in 2012, meaning the team can rewrite its history books with a trip to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday. The Western Conference clash will kick off at 3 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus, serving as a rematch of the 2016 Knockout Round that saw Seattle claim a 1-0 win in controversial fashion.
Sporting KC's longest unbeaten streaks in all competitions
|13||08/04/12 to 10/24/12
06/03/17 to present
|12||03/25/00 to 05/27/00
05/25/11 to 07/09/11
|10||06/05/04 to 07/24/04|
|9||08/23/00 to 09/29/00|
|8||06/21/08 to 07/27/08
04/25/15 to 06/16/15