Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Onto the Semifinals

Against a lower division side, Sporting KC was expected to take care of their business last night in the US Open Cup, and they did just that.  A 3-0 win over USL-Pro side, Dayton Dutch Lions, and Sporting advanced to their first US Open Cup semifinals since 2004 when the team won the trophy.  With the win, KC earned a return trip to Philadelphia on July 11th to face the Union, who defeated Harrisburg 5-2 to advance as well.

KC got off to a dream start thanks to Seth Sinovic, but the goal will be credited to CJ Sapong.  A long throw by Jacob Peterson was partially cleared to Peterson, who took a volley and had that shot deflected back wide.  Sinvoic picked up the ball and he too took a rip from 25 yards out.  Sinovic's shot deflected off of Sapong and went towards the opposite corner of the goal, leaving Dayton goalkeeper, Matt Williams wrong footed as Sporting went up 1-0.  Sporting KC continued to dictate the early play in the game and probably should have gone up 2-0 a few times.  Lawrence Olum had two chances to put on in off of a long through, the first, his downward header was cleared, but only partially.  On the second effort, Olum let the ball run through his legs to try and back heal it, but couldn't make contact with the ball because of the pace. 

The early goal forced the Dutch Lions to have to come out more instead of bunkering in, and to their credit held some decent possession and created some decent half chances.  Their really dangerous chances though ended up being ruled out due to offside calls.  And while Dayton was trying to get back in the game, Sporting continued to create chances themselves.  Graham Zusi almost caught Dayton's keeper off his line late in the half, but Zusi's effort from just on his own side of the midfield line sailed just over the bar.  In first half stoppage time, KC's best chance to go up 2-0 went off the post.  Sapong did some good passing with Zusi and Peterson to free Peterson in behind the Dayton defense, but Peterson put his shot off the post and the ball bounced out of play.

In the second half, KC continued to control play and hold the ball mainly in the Dayton end of the field.  Finally in the 56th minute, KC got their second.  After a good string of passing, Zusi found himself with a few feet of space just outside the box and let fly with a shot that sailed into the corner leaving Williams with no chance as Sporting went up 2-0.  They made it 3-0 only a few minutes later.  With Zusi subbing out for Roger Espinoza, Soony Saad stepped up to take a corner kick and placed it right at the 6 for Sapong to run onto and head in his second goal of the night to make it 3-0. 

With the comfortable lead in place, KC took a much more possession oriented approach over the last 30 minutes of the game.  They created some chances, but after going up 3 they looked content to just see the game out.  At the other end of the field, Dayton wasn't providing a whole lot going forward, as Jimmy Nielsen didn't have to record an official save as Dayton again had a good chance where Nielsen did make a save ruled out due to an offside call.  In the end, Sporting did the job it set out to do, winning 3-0 and advancing to the US Open Cup semifinals.

Wizards Man of the Match - CJ Sapong - Two more goals for the reigning rookie of the year.  The first he probably didn't know a ton about as Sinovic's shot deflected off of him, but the second was a nice header off the Saad corner.  Sapong also almost set up Peterson for a goal but the effort went off the post.

Honorable Mention - Lawrence Olum

Player Ratings - Nielsen 7, Harrington 6, Olum 8, Besler 7, Sinovic 7, Thomas 7, Zusi 7, Joseph 7, Saad 7, Sapong 8, Peterson 8.  Subs Espinoza 7, Warzycha 6, Bunbury 6.

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