For the second time in four years, Sporting KC is returning to the US Open Cup final after a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake last night at Sporting Park. With the win, Sporting will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union on September 30th in hopes of bringing home their third piece of silverware in the last four years and the club's sixth overall. It wasn't an easy game for KC as Salt Lake did a good job of containing KC's attacking and relying on Nick Rimando in goal to keep KC at bay for most of the game, but late goals by Benny Feilhaber and Krisztian Nemeth saw Kansas City through.
The early part of the game saw both teams create some chances but neither able to capitalize, Soni Mustivar put a header over the bar from close range off a corner kick, Nemeth forced a save from Rimando off another free kick, and Sebastian Jaime forced a kick save out of Tim Melia. The early feel out period though ended in the 24th minute when Tony Beltran picked out Olmes Garcia with a long ball over the top. Garcia had been marked by Kevin Ellis who appeared to misjudge the flight of the ball and allowed Garcia to easily get in behind him and into the box one on one with Melia. Garcia slotted the ball past Melia and put RSL on top. After the goal, KC stepped up the play and started to take over more of the game. The lead lasted 11 minutes for RSL before KC equalized. After Nemeth was fouled near the corner flag by RSL defender Aaron Maund, Feilhaber played a driven free kick into the box where Mustivar raced onto it, beating Rimando to it and heading it into the empty net to put KC level. KC continued to be the more aggressive side but was unable to really test Rimando the rest of the half.
KC continued to be the side pushing the game in the second half and creating the better chances, Nemeth almost put KC up in the 49th. After being played in behind the RSL defense, Nemeth chipped Rimando and the ball was rolling into the net, but Beltran, who was trailing the play was able to clear it away with a sliding challenge. When his defense wasn't helping him out, Rimando was making KC's life difficult, denying efforts from Nemeth, Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, and Jacob Peterson at different times throughout the half. The best of those probably came in the 71st when Dwyer collected a low Connor Hallisey cross, held off his defender and squared the ball for Nemeth. The Hungarian looked to pick out the corner but had his shot deflect off a defender and out for a corner. To finally beat Rimando a second time it took a great individual effort and the post to do it. Dwyer brought a ball down at midfield in front of RSL defender Elias Vasquez, he proceeded to turn and race towards the sideline before cutting inside in front of Vasquez, he shrugged off a shirt pull and then cut around Maund at the top of the box before firing a shot that hit the inside of the post past Rimando. The ball bounced back into the middle of the box where Feilhaber had run unmarked into the box and fired the ball into the net to put KC on top. RSL now had to throw numbers forward looking to get back into the game, but another mistake at the back allowed KC to grab a third. Feilhaber cleared a long ball up field towards Nemeth and Dwyer. Maund attempted to play the ball back to Rimando with his head, but did not get enough of it. Instead Nemeth raced onto the ball as Rimando pushed out on him. Nemeth danced on the ball before cutting around Rimando, taking another touch and firing the ball into the net to make it 3-1. Things started to get a little physical late on as Melia was knocked down in the box trying to claim a ball in the air. Then in stoppage time after he had played the ball away, Feilhaber was run into by RSL forward, Garcia. Without hesitation the forward was sent off and RSL finished the final minutes down a man as KC advanced to the final.
Wizards Man of the Match - Benny Feilhaber - Played a role in all three goals for KC again last night, scoring one, assisting another, and playing the ball in that led to the third, Feilhaber continues his MVP form.
Honorable Mention - Soni Mustivar
Player Ratings - Melia 6, Abdul-Salaam 6, Ellis 7, Besler 7, Dia 7, Mustivar 8, Nagamura 6, Feilhaber 8, Peterson 6, Dwyer 6, Nemeth 7. Subs Hallisey 5, Myers NR, de Jong NR.