Sporting Kansas City are no strangers to the stresses of the U.S. Open Cup knockout rounds.
They’re last two U.S. Open Cup championships have come after gruelling penalty shootouts in the finals. In 2012, they outlasted the Seattle Sounders winning 3-2, and in 2015, they defeated the Philadelphia Union 7-6 on penalties.
Kansas City through to another U.S. Open Cup final
Against the San Jose Earthquakes, one round earlier than usual, it was no different. Both keepers stopped the first penalty, but Tim Melia sent Sporting KC through to the final after stopping Victor Bernardez’ attempt.
It did not take long for the scoring to open in this U.S. Open Cup semifinal match. In just the fourth minute, San Jose found the back of the net.
Jimmy Medranda forced Anthony Tarbell to make a great save off a deflection in the 18th minute. The left back made Tarbell dive full stretch to stop a sure equalizing goal.
But the equalizing goal did occur two minutes after the half hour mark, following an 18-pass move that involved every member of the team. In the final third, Latif Blessing fed Medranda with a simple pass. The 23-year-old then found Diego Rubio, who finished off the move with ease.
Diego Rubio and Benny Feilhaber linked up inside the box four minutes from halftime. Rubio turned and fired from near the edge of the area and forced Tarbell to make a fine save.
Sporting Kansas City nearly pulled off an immaculate counter attack in the 57th minute. Gurso fed Blessing with an excellent pass before the latter chipped a ball over the top.
All SKC in the second half, but nothing to show for
The home side kept applying pressure on the San Jose defense, and on the hour mark, they should have taken the lead. Medranda, who caused the Earthquakes problems all night, sent an accurate cross onto the head of Rubio. The Chilean headed the ball straight at Tarbell. With a bit more accuracy, the attempt should have turned into the go-ahead goal.
In the 82nd minute, Chris Wondolowski saw his first action of the match. Vako saw him standing near the edge of the 18-yard-box. Wondolowski took a couple of touches before deciding to shoot at the near post. It was not a very strong shot, as Tarbell caught it easily.
Rubio, who had the equalizing goal, nearly found his second of the night six minutes into added time. Dániel Sallói set him free from a ways away the goal mouth. But Tarbell, who was immaculate all night, made another fine save.
The first big chance of extra time came in the 98th minute. Sallói was a nice addition after coming on in the second half. He sent a sensational ball into the box after Tarbell lost possession in his own area. While it was a quick ball in, Blessing needed to do better on his finish, as he sent it wide of the target from close range.
With one half of the final now set, we await the second half. The New York Red Bulls travel to FC Cincinnati next Wednesday night in an exciting clash.