Sporting KC had to hold on late, but came away with a 3-2 win over USL-Pro side, Orlando City in the 3rd round of the US Open Cup last night at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting were one of the lucky MLS sides, as MLS teams struggled against many of the lower level opponents last night, 7 MLS teams went down to their lower level competition last night in Open Cup play. With two more games tonight, MLS is currently 7-7 in this round.
Sporting started last night strong trying to find the early goal, but were unsuccessful in those attempts. Orlando slowly started to come into the game, mainly through the efforts for forward Dennis Chin, who gave KC headaches all night with his speed. The game was very open as both teams were able to get up and down the field. KC was getting opportunities from crosses, but each one would seem to fall to where no KC players were. Meanwhile with KC's wingbacks getting so far forward, Orlando looked to exploit it on the break. If not for a fantastic tackle by Aurelien Collin on Chin, Orlando would have had a great chance to go up 1-0. Late in the half Orlando was almost able to grab the lead. Jamie Watson had a chance from the top of the box after another Chin run, but Jon Kempin dove to his left and at full extension knocked the ball away to keep the game scoreless. In stoppage time KC almost grabbed the lead through Soony Saad as he was played in on goal, but as Saad tried to slot the ball back post, Miguel Gillardo made a good stop getting his hand down. A minute later though KC had the lead. Peterson Joseph made a square pass to Paulo Nagamura who was about 25 yards out from goal. Nagamura took a touch and let fly with a shot from distance that beat Gillardo and gave KC the half time lead 1-0.
In the second half, while KC controlled more of play, it was Orlando that was creating the better chances early on. Chin again tried to set up Watson in a 1v1 situation vs Kempin, but once again the home grown goalkeeper came up with a big save. A few minutes after that though, Orlando was level. A cross from Erik Ustruck found Kevin Molino alone in the box and he headed it past Kempin. No one followed Molino's run from the midfield and it was an easy finish for the midfielder. After the goal, KC continued to really push the game. Saad was unlucky to restore the lead on a nice play where he received the ball with his back to goal and a man on him, turned outside and fired a shot that hit the post and bounced back into play. Peter Vermes' insertion of Graham Zusi was a point that really started to change the game. While Joseph didn't play a bad game, Zusi just brought a different dynamic that allowed KC to really get on Orlando. Zusi almost immediately set up Chance Myers, but Gallardo blocked his effort. In the 63rd, KC retook the lead through Saad. CJ Sapong collected a loose ball down the left and played a ball wide toward Saad and Nagamura near the corner of the box. Saad let the ball run for Nagamura, who touched the ball back to Saad. From near the corner of the box, Saad took a touch and buried a shot in the far corner to restore KC's lead. Shortly after the first goal, Saad had his brace. A corner from Graham Zusi was punched out by Gallardo. The punch though was only as far as Saad who teed up from 30 yards out and his low effort found the corner and KC was up 3-1.
Things looked like they'd gotten a bit easier for KC shortly after the goal when Anthony Pulis was sent off for an intentional elbow. While KC had a few chances after the red, including Jacob Peterson forcing a good save off Gallardo on a header, it was Orlando though that would really start to push the game though. Down a man they made life difficult for KC and really kept the pressure up. In the 84th minute, Orlando got back into the game when Chin scored on Kempin to make it 3-2. The final 6 minutes plus stoppage time were nervy, but the insertion of Matt Besler helped settle down the defense and KC held on for the 3-2 win. They'll now take on Colorado next Tuesday at Livestrong.
Wizards Man of the Match - Soony Saad - The two goal hero for KC had a good game. If not for some fine goalkeeping and the post Saad very well could have had 4 goals last night. And funny enough it almost didn't happen as Vermes was ready to pull Saad for Teal Bunbury when an injury to Peterson Joseph forced a change to the substitution.
Player Ratings - Kempin 6, Myers 5, Collin 5, Warzycha 3, Sinovic 5, Nagamura, 6, Olum 4, Joseph 5, Peterson 6, Saad 8, Dwyer 5. Subs Sapong 6, Zusi 7 Besler NR.