Five Things, presented by Keith + Associates Dentistry, is a weekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights the top storylines, players to watch and matchday programming ahead of each game throughout the season.
Two MLS clubs will renew their regional rivalry this week in one of the oldest and most storied tournaments in American sports. Sporting Kansas City visits Minnesota United FC on Wednesday as the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup continues at the palatial Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Fourth Round fixture will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and stream live on ESPN+ as Sporting aim to make inroads on their fifth Open Cup title. With Manager Peter Vermes’ men preparing for another domestic cup run, let’s jump into five things you absolutely must know about the match.
1. Streamers Only
Wednesday’s showdown will not be televised and can be seen exclusively on ESPN+, the live and on-demand streaming service that launched in 2018. Fans can start an ESPN+ subscription at just $4.99 a month, gaining access to hundreds of MLS and U.S. Open Cup matches as well as other ESPN events, original shows and films – including USL Championship and international soccer.
Keep in mind that all U.S. Open Cup matches in 2019 will stream live on ESPN+. For a live stream link to Wednesday’s contest between Sporting and Minnesota, click here.
2. Familiar Foes
Sporting and Minnesota will meet in the U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round for the fourth time in six years. Vermes’ side prevailed on each of the previous three occasions, cruising on home turf in 2014 and 2017 and claiming an extra-time win at Minnesota in 2016. The matchup is one of five all-MLS fixtures in the competition’s Fourth Round.
3. Ike’s Reunion
A high-performing center back who helped Sporting to the 2017 U.S. Open Cup title will line up against his former club as a member of Minnesota on Wednesday night. Ike Opara, who took 2017 MLS Defender of the Year honors as an integral piece of Sporting’s backline, joined the Loons in a January trade and has started 13 of 14 MLS matches for his new outfit. The 30-year-old veteran has enjoyed a strong to 2019, guiding Minnesota to five shutouts this season after the club managed just two over the course of 2018.
4. All Eyes on Allianz
Sporting’s inaugural visit to the brand-new Allianz Field has come more than three months sooner than expected. The state-of-the-art venue, which will welcome Sporting again on Sept. 25 in the MLS regular season, opened in April to rave reviews as an excellent addition to the country’s wealth of soccer-specific stadiums.
5. What’s at Stake
The 2019 U.S. Open Cup winner will claim $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League and have its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest trophies in American team sports and now on display at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas. The runner-up will earn $100,000, while the club that advances the furthest from each lower division below Major League Soccer will secure $25,000.
Sporting owns four Open Cup titles in team history, tied with the Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders FC for the most among MLS clubs. Vermes has guided the team to three Open Cup championships over the last seven seasons, hoisting the trophy in 2012, 2015 and 2017 to go with the club’s first title in 2004.
Keith + Associates Dental Fact
Cavities in teeth have been filled since the earliest of times with a variety of different materials, including gum, stone chips and even turpentine resin.