Donnelly: US Open Cup Final, Sporting Wins the Day

Thunderstorms didn’t stop the Cauldron from showing up in true form for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final at LIVESTRONG against the visiting Seattle Sounders, winners of the last three Cups.

The 45 minute delay meant just more drinking time and the Cauldron was as fired up as I’ve ever seen them.  Even the wraparound mini-Cauldron was packed, and the standing area in front of the Members Club was shoulder to shoulder.

In the 2nd minute Teal Bunbury showed why he’s Teal, declining to make an easy pass to a wide open Kei Kamara near the penalty spot and instead keeping the ball and trying to beat several defenders before cutting back a harmless cross that Seattle easily corralled.

Oh my gosh this place is fired up.  Goosebumps…

Chance is back finally.  Zusi is playing up top.  Espinoza is back from London.

The game started out at a frenetic pace that was sure to slow down.  It had to, didn’t it?

The first 15 minutes was all Sporting possession wise, though they weren’t able to manufacture a really good chance out of it.    All around the stadium, threads of lightening splintered the darkness every so often, reminding anyone who cared to look that there was life outside of this 90 minute game.

Somewhere around the 20th minute the game settled down and both teams became more calculated.  Then Kei cracked a dipping 40 yarder off the crossbar.  So close.

Big save from Jimmy Nielsen off a corner in the 30th minute.

Fattest MLS coach?  Sigi Schmidt for sure.

Sporting lucked out a bit in the 34th minute when Seattle had a semi-breakaway, but former Wizard Eddie Johnson couldn’t find the frame as Nielsen came out to challenge.

After a few calls that didn’t go his way, Kei seemed to fall out of the game mentally.  If KC was going to come out on top, they needed him to let it go and get back into it by attacking defenders and pulling the opposing defense apart.

The 2nd half started with Sporting on the front foot, creating a couple half chances and winning an early corner.  But Seattle battled right back, garnering a few half chances of their own, including a semi-break that saw Matt Besler slide in at the last second to rob a streaking Eddie Johnson of a chance.

Around the 75th minute KC looked like they needed something, a sub, some luck, anything.  Seattle was increasingly comfortable on the ball, while Sporting seemed to be bunkering a bit due to fatigue and settling for sending long balls over the top for Teal to try and track down.

In the 82nd minute KC got their dose of luck after Teal tracked down one of those long balls, turned, and sent in a low cross.  No, he didn’t find a teammate.  But he did find the outstretched hand of a Seattle defender, and the ref promptly blew his whistle signaling a penalty.

Kei stepped to the spot, sent the keeper to his right, and put the ball low and to the left, burying it in the net as the blue confetti flew.

But not so fast.  Just a minute later Seattle earned a weak free kick 35 yards out and capitalized with a header that Jimmy Nielsen didn’t even try for – not that he had a chance at it – to tie the game at 1-1.

Yes, the epic overtime was now set up perfectly.


SKC came out firing, earning a few chances right off the bat, including a free kick right at the corner of the box after second half sub CJ Sapong was taken down.  Then things settled down quite a bit, both squads efforting through heavy legs.  The fatigue was really obvious at the end of the first overtime period when KC fullback Chance Myers had consecutive opportunities to send in crosses, but couldn’t lift the ball over the first waiting defender.


Stands clearing out a little, but it is 11:08.

118th minute, substitute Patrick Ianni gets shown his second yellow.  Big moment for KC.  Zusi’s boot needs to come through.  No dice.

Going to PKs.  Lame.


Kei scores high to keeper’s right.

Brad Evans sends Puma the wrong way, scores.  1-1

Roger hits weak roller just a bit to keeper’s right, keeper scoops it up. Still 1-1

Marc Burch hits high down the middle.  Seattle up 2-1.

Besler takes it left footed?  Hits the underside of the bar in the corner, 2-2

Osvaldo Alonso sends it out of the stadium, crowd goes wild.  Still 2-2, back even.

Zusi sends keeper wrong way but chips over the bar, still 2-2.

Christian Tiffert sends it low, hard and to the left but Puma pounces and blocks! Still 2-2

Nagamura goes to keeper’s right, keeper blocks it, but in a rarely seen move, the ref says the keeper left early, awards Nagamura a re-do.  He buries it opposite side.  SKC 3-2 Seattle

Eddie Johnson has a chance to tie it up.  Wouldn’t it be fitting if the former KC man missed?  He did, sent it over the bar by a mile.

KC paints the wall, Open Cup champs.


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15 Responses to Donnelly: US Open Cup Final, Sporting Wins the Day

  1. Markus Aurelius says:

    It’s been a LOOOONG time since there has been a KC sports moment as meaningful and dramatic as the PKs last night. (Game 6 of the ’85 series certainly was, and the 1996 playoff loss to the Colts probably was as well ….thanks to Lin Elliot’s horrible kicking.)

    Huge kudos to Vermes, Heineman, and OnGoal for putting together this team and LSP and giving KC a team and place to be proud of. How nice to not only have local, resident owners of a pro sports team but also owners that, first and foremost, care about winning.

    A big BOOOO to the US Cup folks for placing the broadcast on GolTV so that no one would actually see it. However, the upside was that Cal and Jake’s radio broadcast on 810 was superb. (although it took them 30 minutes into the match to shift from a TV type broadcast to a radio broadcast which described more of the action for the listener) Cal’s call of the OT period and the PKs was phenomenal. Following along on twitter was also a joy.

    Props to 810 for carrying the game and for also having an extended post-game show which let the post-game natural high linger into the wee hours of the morning.

    I’m pretty stoked about the automatic qualification for next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. Should be fun to see how SKC stacks up next year.

  2. Superfreq says:

    Was at the game last night and the atmosphere was as electric as the skies that caused the delay. Had frayed nerves throughout the match and when Seattle equalized just after SKC had taken the lead you could feel the tension mount as many KC sports fans knew this to be a bad omen. The extra-time led to fatigue setting in and the unsettling feeling of it going to PK’s and an essential coin flip. Sporting got bailed out by Seattle missing the last 3 penalties along with the keeper being off the line for Paulo’s first attempt. Once EJ skied Seattle’s last chance, Euphoria rang out in the stadium. This team, and the ownership group can take great pride in working towards and achieving the goal of winning the trophy. As a Wizards / Sporting fan since ’96, this is a team that KC can be and should be proud of.

    Now, on to more hardware this season. #PainttheWall

  3. the dude says:

    Kudos to the dudos, way to hang tough and grind out the metal.

    Let’s get real though, as has been shown in multiple matches this season we are still lacking offense that can bring the ball up the middle and create opportunities. Kei decided to play back after 20 or 30 minutes in and nobody else stepped up to create those opportunities. The suits need to find a way to make this happen or else we will be sniffing Houston’s vapor trail as they leave us in the dust come playoff time.

    • Hot Carl says:

      Agree…last night was great but our scoring drought is getting ugly. Not having Collen in the middle on set pieces has also been hurting us. Still fun to watch these guys but our weaknesses have been glaring as of late.

  4. the dude says:

    And, as made horribly apparent by our fair friends in the Sounders corner, we need bigger effin’ drums man.

  5. Mysterious J says:

    Well written summary. Congrats to the club, but there are still some deep flaws there that will almost certainly preclude winning the league as well. People love to heap praise on ownership, but the fact is that we are still without a DP and are almost certainly going to lose Espinoza.

    As far as the GolTV thing goes, can you REALLY blame US Soccer for going with the highest bidder? I think everyone’s ire is better directed toward the organization for not being able to prevent the high profile friendly going on at the same time on a much wider seen network. If this cup is meant to be important, US Soccer would seem to be within their rights to ensure the final is CENTER STAGE.

    • Markus Aurelius says:

      Well, put regarding the broadcast rights. Couldn’t agree more re the competing friendly. Terrible scheduling.

      Also think you’re right regarding Espinoza – he more or less said over in London that he’s hoping to jump to the Premier League next season. Certainly can’t blame the guy, but, man, I wish we could keep him…. we need him. Paulo is definitely a downgrade in both skill and effort.

      Collin’s absence is huge both on defense and set pieces. What we need up top is someone with the killer mindset of Collin and Espinoza. Neither CJ or Teal have progressed this season with regard to pushing the ball up the middle and both seem satisfied to just roam up top hoping/waiting for someone to serve it up on a platter.

    • smartman says:

      Finally, a voice of reason.

  6. legendaryhog says:

    I’m announcing my intent to play in the English premier league. That’s right Sporting, no legendaryhog for next season, I’ll be across the pond. Team offers you say? Well, no one has expressed interest, but I really, really, really want to go. I have just as many goals and only two less assists than Rodger this season and he’s going….what? Really? He hasn’t had any offers? No rumors from clubs in the EPL? Are you sure? Cause he said he’d like to play there and everyone is saying that he is leaving Sporting next year for some EPL club. Hmm…well, I still like my chances. After all, I did say that I wanted to do that, so I’m going to get what I want right? Earning a spot? With ability and talent? Um, whatever, no one does that anymore right?

    • the dude says:

      Yeah man, let’s get this in perspective about Espinosa. The guy is great to have around the middle of the field flying around like a Honduran/Tasmanian devil but like the Hog said he hasn’t scored any goals for us this season so far. He helps in hurrying offenders and some defenders with his throwing his body around the field but he really doesn’t throw much of a punch offensively. He loses as much ball offensively than he steals.

      Whoever is trying to equate streaky olympic play with actually getting premier league offers is out of their damn tree.

  7. Mysterious J says:

    Espinoza is, of course, not good enough to start in the EPL. However, he has stated that he wants to play in Europe and I think his “streaky” play at the Olympics will afford him that opportunity at some level. I would like for him to stay around, but I honestly think that is not likely.

    • legendaryhog says:

      Well, his contract is up at the end of the year, and he is probably worth more now than he ever has been or ever will be. Unless Sporting thinks they cannot win the East without Rodger, logic dictates that if you have an offer, sell him now. His contract is up at the end of the season, and his “buzz” value is going to go down more every day. You’d think if there were legit offers on the table Sporting would be selling him now. He’s 25, has been with Sporting since 2008. They probably have a good idea of what he is worth, what his peak potential is (if he hasn’t reached it already), and what they could get for him in return. If he doesn’t get sold in the next week, I’m saying he’s staying in the MLS next year.

  8. Rick Nichols says:

    It was great to get the win last night, of course, but as earlier commenters have noted, Sporting is still lacking a consistent offensive punch, the kind it will need if it really hopes to bring the MLS Cup back to Kansas City. The Wizards got by with a lone goal in the title match 12 years ago, but it’s difficult to live on the edge game after game and ultimately prevail. At any rate, soccer in KC has come a long way since the days of the Spurs, who played many of their home matches at Pem-Day school with only a few hundred fans looking on.

  9. George Wilson says:

    From what I have read, the second division in England pays much better than MLS. So even if it turns out that Roger is not EPL material, he may still be far better off financially playing overseas. Or maybe in Mexico, which may not have the quality of a top European league, but is still a better and I think more lucrative league than MLS. Bottom line for me: If guys like Eddie Johnson, Tim Ream, and Geoff Cameron can get a shot in England, Roger is certainly a viable candidate. Also, I am not completely sure how MLS contracts work, but I believe it is the league rather than the team that winds up negotiating transfer fees. I think the actual contractual commitment lies with MLS. Based on that, I assume if Roger does go, SKC may get only a portion of the money.

    As far as the game, had it been a midseason MLS game we would be talking about what a drab performance it was. The stakes and the crowd made it what it was. After the first 15 minutes or so both teams looked like they were fighting their way through the fatigue of a midweek game in August of one the hottest summers in decades.

    Sporting KC has now gone three months averaging less than a goal a game in MLS play. Yet in that time period our major acquisitions have been a center half and a holding midfielder. I just don’t get it.

    • legendaryhog says:

      The MLS contract situation is super fucking confusing. Depending on how the player is classified different rules apply. But here’s what I think is the situation. Since Rodger was drafted by the Wizards back in 2008, and is over 24 years old with over 3 years in the league, he likely has a guaranteed contract. However, Sporting can let his contract run out and still retain first right of refusal. So essentially, a team would still have to pay a transfer fee to Sporting, even though he would no longer be under contract. I.e., Sporting can resign and sell him. Or let his contract run, then leverage their right of first refusal into a transfer fee to whoever wants him. I’m not sure what happens to the cap space in the mean time if that happens though. Super fucking confusing rules.

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