It's been eight years since KC last lifted the trophy. That drought ended last night on penalty kicks as KC won 1-1(3-2) on penalty kicks against the defending champion Seattle Sounders FC. The game had plenty of talking points and a little bit of controversy especially late in the PK shootout as Michael Gspurning saved Paulo Nagamura's PK but was called for being off his line too early and Nagamura buried his second attempt before Eddie Johnson skied his effort to give the US the title.
Like what I think many people have come to expect from cup finals, last night's final started off with both teams just feeling each other out. Both Seattle and Kansas City looked like many teams do in a cup final, not wanting to make the first mistake. Finally in the 24th minute, Kansas City almost grabbed the lead. Graham Zusi won the ball with a tackle playing the ball to Kei Kamara. Kamara controlled the ball and fired from about 30 yards out. The shot took a deflection and hit the cross bar and bounced back into play. In the 30th minute Seattle had probably the best chance of the first half. Off a corner kick, Mauro Rosales found Eddie Johnson in the box. Johnson headed his shot on goal but Jimmy Nielsen did a great job of getting down and knocking the ball away and keeping the game scoreless. Shortly after his first effort Johnson had another chance, as he received a pass that just eluded Matt Besler, allowing Johnson to run at Lawrence Olum. Olum did a good job of shadowing him and Johnson pushed his shot wide of the post. KC had another chance in the 37th through Seth Sinovic who let rip from distance and hit side netting, but confused the confetti cannon operators enough to set off the confetti cannon. The game had really opened up as Johnson at the other end had a shot blocked by Besler. Then in stoppage time KC had a bit of possession at the top of the Sounders box, when Seattle was unable to clear and the ball came to Roger Espinoza who fired a shot on goal that Gspurning had to punch away.
Kansas City continued to control the game in the second half. The early yellow card that Osvaldo Alonso seemed to give KC a little more ability to control the midfield, and they were able to control the game. Espinoza, Nagamura, and Julio Cesar controlled it not allowing Seattle's offense to really get going through Rosales. Kansas City's offense though continued to get shots but as has been their problem for much of the season they struggled to finish their chances. Finally in the 82nd minute KC got a break. Teal Bunbury received a ball down the wing and cut back inside. He played a cross towards the middle of the box for Zusi. The cross was cut out by Zach Scott with his arm and Ricardo Salazar pointed to the spot. Kamara stepped up and sent Gspurning the wrong way as Sporting went up 1-0. The lead didn't last long for Sporting as Seattle came right back down the field and won a free kick. Rosales played the free kick into the box where Scott beat Nagamura to the ball and headed the ball into the corner past Nielsen to tie the game at 1-1. KC produced one last good chance in regulation after the equalizer, a ball was partially cleared to Kamara who hit a side volley that went just over the goal.
Into extra time the two teams went. KC again continued to control the midfield keeping Seattle from really pressuring. The best chance of extra time came in only the 3rd minute of extra time after CJ Sapong was fouled just outside the box. Instead of playing a cross into the box, Zusi touched the ball wide to Kamara who blasted a shot on goal. Gspurning didn't try to hold it and just punched the ball away. Late on in stoppage time the Sounders ended up getting reduced to 10 men as Patrick Ianni picked up a second yellow. But there wasn't a lot of time to take advantage of the extra man as Salazar blew his whistle shortly after that.
Into penalty kicks we went to decide who would hoist the trophy in this year's open cup. Kansas City stepped up to take the first PK. Kamara went the opposite way that he'd gone in regulation. Gspurning guessed right this time and got a hand on the penalty but couldn't do enough to keep it out as KC went up 1-0. Brad Evans stepped up for Seattle and sent Nielsen the wrong way putting his in the back of the net making it 1-1. Espinoza took Sporting's next PK. Espinoza didn't strike the penalty well and Gspurning easily saved the attempt giving Seattle the advantage. Marc Burch for Seattle stepped up and took advantage of the chance burying the penalty and putting Seattle in front 2-1 through 2 rounds. Besler stepped up 3rd for Sporting. Besler took a short run up and fired the ball off the underside of the cross bar and in giving Gspurning no chance even though he guessed right. Up 3rd for the Sounders was Alonso. Alonso though skied the opportunity well over the goal and after 3 rounds it was 2-2. Up 4th for KC stepped Zusi. Zusi sent Gspurning the wrong way, but tried to do a cheeky chip and the ball went over the bar and handed the advantage back to Seattle. Christian Tiffert, Seattle's new DP stepped up as the 4th shooter for Seattle. Nielsen guessed right on the German's attempt though and knocked the ball away leaving the shootout tied a 2-2. Nagamura stepped up to take the 5th attempt. He went to Gspurning's left but the Austrian made the save. Salazar though blew he whistle and forced it to be retaken saying that Gspurning was off his line. With a new lease on life, Nagamura chose the opposite corner and buried it even though Gspurning went the right way. Stepping up last for the Sounders was the former Wizard, Johnson. Johnson took a long time taking his shot as Nielsen danced back and forth on the line trying to get in Johnson's head. When Johnson took the shot he skied it over the goal and the celebration was on.
Enjoy the call and a bit of the post game from the call on Sport Radio 810am from Callum Williams and Yadrich from right before Johnson's deciding PK to a little later.
Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Nielsen - There are a number of players I could go with for this after last night. But Nielsen's save on Johnson on the end line, the PK save and getting in the heads of Alonso and Johnson to get them to sky their attempts gives the award to the KC captain.
Honorable Mention - Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Kei Kamara, Seth Sinovic
Player Ratings - Nielsen 9, Myers 6, Olum 7, Besler 9, Sinovic 8, Cesar 7, Nagamura 7, Espinoza 8, Kamara 8, Bunbury 5, Zusi 5. Subs Sapong 5, Harrington 6.