Yohan Croizet - Sporting KC vs. Minnesota United FC - Aug. 25, 2018
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Preview: Sporting begins Open Cup chase Wednesday at Minnesota United FC

Sporting Kansas City at Minnesota United FC
2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 | 7 p.m. CT
Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota

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Sporting Kansas City will begin the club's journey in the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, traveling to face regional rival Minnesota United FC at the new Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Fourth Round contest will kick off at 7 p.m. CT, with the winner advancing to the tournament’s Round of 16 on June 18-19.

Wednesday’s win-or-go-home showdown 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.

Set to make their inaugural visit to Allianz Field, Sporting secured a 2-2 draw at Toronto FC last Friday. Felipe Gutierrez scored twice from the penalty spot in the club’s final MLS match before the Concacaf Gold Cup break, but Toronto salvaged a last-gasp equalizer in the 95th minute through Jordan Hamilton to deny Sporting their first road win of the season.

Led by head coach Adrian Heath, Minnesota dropped their third straight game on Saturday in a 1-0 decision at the Colorado Rapids. The Loons had enjoyed a strong start to the 2019 campaign—Minnesota has five shutouts this season after recording just two in all of 2018—but recent struggles have stemmed the momentum. Game-changing forward Darwin Quintero leads the Loons with five goals, while MLS debutant Romain Metanire has a team-best six assists.

A combination of injuries and international duty will require both teams to flex their depth on Wednesday. Sporting remains without European quartet Botond Barath, Nico Hasler Krisztian Nemeth and Johnny Russell—all of whom ventured abroad to represent their countries in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying—while captain Matt Besler is questionable with a hamstring strain.

On the opposite sideline, former Sporting defender Ike Opara will miss a reunion opportunity after being ruled out with an undisclosed injury. Influential midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (quad) and forward Abu Danladi (hamstring) will also miss the game.

Sporting and Minnesota will meet in the U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round for the fourth time in six years. Manager Peter Vermes’ side has prevailed on each of the previous three occasions, cruising on home turf in 2014 and 2017 and claiming an extra-time road win in 2016—the final year that Minnesota competed in the North American Soccer League before moving to MLS. The matchup is one of five all-MLS fixtures in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round.

The trip to Minnesota marks another destination for Sporting during a travel-heavy month of June, which sees the club play four MLS away matches before returning to Children’s Mercy Park on July 3 to host LAFC. Sporting currently occupy 10th place in the Western Conference with a 3-5-7 record (16 points), while Minnesota are seventh in the West at 6-7-3 (21 points).

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 side 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.

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. The 2019 edition will unfold in a single-elimination format through the final in late August. 

The U.S. Open Cup has crowned a champion annually since 1914, making it the oldest ongoing soccer competition in the U.S. and the world’s third-longest continuously running soccer tournament. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt, who owned Kansas City’s MLS club from its founding until 2006.

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