Sporting Kansas City crashed out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 4-2 defeat to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Johnny Russell fired Sporting KC ahead after just two minutes, but Houston replied with four unanswered goals — two each from Romell Quioto and Mauro Manotas — to deny Manager Peter Vermes’ men their second consecutive Open Cup title. Yohan Croizet added a late consolation goal for the visitors as Sporting KC and Houston squared off in the Open Cup for the fourth straight year.
Winless in five straight games across all competitions, Sporting KC will look to regroup before resuming their MLS regular season campaign on Saturday, July 28, against Western Conference leaders FC Dallas at Children’s Mercy Park.
Vermes fielded a retooled lineup from Saturday’s 3-2 loss at the New York Red Bulls, using a 4-2-3-1 formation for the first time this season. Veteran Seth Sinovic replaced Jaylin Lindsey at left back, while Diego Rubio — usually deployed as a center forward — assumed an attacking midfield role behind striker Daniel Salloi with Croizet dropping to the bench. Midfielder Roger Espinoza notably made his 21st career Open Cup appearance, passing teammate Matt Besler for the most in Sporting KC history.
The visitors raced out to a dream start, taking less than two minutes to land the first punch on a lethal counterattack. Gerso Fernandes sprung Russell free down the right flank, allowing the Scot to race 50 yards goalward before slotting low past Houston goalkeeper Chris Seitz. The goal was Sporting KC’s earliest of the season and Russell’s team-leading ninth goal in all competitions.
Facing an early deficit, Houston responded brightly and almost leveled terms in the 10th minute only for Alberth Elis’ contested header to carom off the crossbar following an Adolfo Machado cross. The hosts threatened again five minutes later when Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia sprawled low to block Manotas’ low drive and Seth Sinovic slid to block the rebound attempt from Elis.
A mazy run through the box saw Elis nearly equalize in the 27th minute, but his low effort was blocked amidst a swarm of Sporting KC defenders. At the opposite end, Rubio swiveled neatly into the central channel and laid the ball off to an open Salloi, who hammered a left-footed strike narrowly over the crossbar on the half-hour mark.
Quioto restored parity with a superbly struck free kick in the 35th minute. Darwin Ceren drew a foul just outside the top of the box, allowing the 26-year-old Honduran to tee up the set piece and curl the ball over Sporting KC’s four-man wall and into the left corner. Shortly thereafter, Machado latched onto Boniek Garcia’s corner kick and steered a glancing header inches over the bar.
Melia entered Wednesday with an 8-0-2 record as Sporting KC’s starting goalkeeper in the Open Cup, and he did wonderfully to deny Manotas on the breakaway in the 62nd minute. Seconds later, a Manotas header was cleared off the line by Sinovic before Quioto’s rebound strike was batted wide by the diving Melia.
Houston would surge ahead in the 66th minute when Quioto chested down a lovely long ball from Ceren and side-footed low past Melia for his second tally of the night. Manotas bagged what ultimately became the game-winner three minutes later, poking low into a gaping net after Melia saved the striker’s initial shot.
Sporting KC went agonizingly close to pulling a goal back twice in the space of a minute, only for Houston center back Alejandro Fuenmayor to make two heroic goal line blocks. On both scoring opportunities, Salloi received a square ball from Croizet and pulled the trigger from close range, forcing Fuenmayor to intervene crucially.
These near misses proved costly as Houston added a fourth goal on 88 minutes. Manotas notched his second goal of the game and his seventh in six career appearances against Sporting KC by snapping home a header off a cross from Memo Rodriguez.
Russell was the catalyst for Sporting KC’s goal in second half stoppage time, spreading the ball wide right to an overlapping Croizet. The Frenchman’s deflected shot looped over Seitz, pinged off the bar and nestled into the net for his third goal of 2018.
2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals
BBVA Compass Stadium | Houston, TX
Weather: 92 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City||1||1||2|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Graham Smith, Emiliano Amor, Seth Sinovic (Jaylin Lindsey 65); Ilie, Roger Espinoza (C); Johnny Russell, Diego Rubio (Felipe Gutierrez 71), Gerso Fernandes (Yohan Croizet 71); Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: Eric Dick, Brad Evans, Gianluca Busio, Kuzain
Houston Dynamo: Chris Seitz; Adolfo Machado, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Philippe Senderos (Leonardo 68), DaMarcus Beasley (C); Darwin Ceren, Boniek Garcia (Eric Alexander 76); Romell Quioto (Memo Rodriguez 73), Tomas Martinez, Alberth Elis; Mauro Manotas
Subs Not Used: Joe Willis, Kevin Garcia, Jared Watts, Luis Gil
SKC -- Johnny Russell 2 (Gerso Fernandes 1) 2
HOU -- Romell Quioto 1 (unassisted) 35
HOU -- Romell Quioto 2 (Darwin Ceren 1) 66
HOU -- Mauro Manotas 2 (unassisted) 69
HOU -- Mauro Manotas 3 (Memo Rodriguez 1) 88
SKC -- Yohan Croizet 2 (Johnny Russell 2) 93+
HOU -- Romell Quioto (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 26
HOU -- Boniek Garcia (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 45
HOU -- Alejandro Fuenmayor (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 79
|Shots on Goal||7||12|
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referee: Adam Garner
Assistant Referee: Jeremy Weed
Fourth Official: Rosendo Mendoza