Sporting KC routs Chicago Fire PDL, advances to U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals
Kansas City, Kan. Sporting Kansas City didn’t let its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third-round match against the Chicago Fire PDL get away — but it took a while for the rout to commence.
Sporting KC dominated the match but struggled mightily to put shots on target. Finally, after scoring goals a minute apart in the second half, Sporting KC pulled away for a 3-0 victory Tuesday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
Sporting KC struck early when, after a Chicago foul just outside the 18-yard box, Luke Sassano tapped the ball to Teal Bunbury for a 25-yard blast that skipped through the defensive wall and into the bottom left corner of the net.
“My confidence is back up,” Bunbury said of snapping a lengthy scoreless streak. “But the most important thing is we got the win.”
A 1-0 lead in the third minute appeared to foreshadow a rout, but offensive inefficiency the rest of the half kept a blowout from happening.
Sporting KC misfired time after time, from a 12th-minute cannon by Kei Kamara that missed to the left, a one-on-one attack by Bunbury where he chipped the ball right into Chicago keeper David Meves’ hands in the 21st minute, or a perfect setup by Michael Harrington to Milos Stojcev for a one-timer that sailed over the crossbar in the 26th minute.
Sporting KC held a 10-1 shots advantage at halftime, including a 2-0 edge in shots on goal.
The inability to finish narrowly proved costly as, in the 42nd minute, Chicago found the back of the net but had a goal waved off.
Hunter Gorskie set up the play on the right side and made a nice feed to Harrison Petts in the middle before he tapped the ball to his left to a charging Paulo Vaz at the back post. Vaz' sliding shot rolled past Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, but it was waved off when Vaz was deemed to have been offsides.
The 1-0 lead held up through halftime.
“These games are never easy,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “I say that because the team that comes in with the idea that this is the Rocky fight, coming in as the underdog and really has a lot to prove. It’s difficult to keep your team up to the challenge for 90 minutes because what happens is you score in the first three minutes and you think it’s going to be easy. The other team played well in the first half. They moved the ball, and credit to those guys for getting this far.”
Chicago had a couple chances early in the second half to even the match before Sporting KC pulled away.
After a poor clearance by Meves, Stojcev made him pay for it. Stojcev recovered the clearance, worked his way past a defender and unleashed a low, line-drive blast past Meves and into the lower left corner of the net for a 2-0 lead in the 58th minute.
Moments later, Chicago captain Jonathan Raj was issued a yellow card for a reckless foul against Kamara.
Sporting KC made the Fire pay for it. Graham Zusi took the ensuing free kick and sent it into the box where Kamara drove it home with a diving header for a 3-0 lead in the 59th minute.
From there, the outcome never was in doubt.
Sporting KC held a 14-5 shots advantage for the match including a 5-1 edge in shots on goal. Bunbury led the way with six shots, three of them on target. Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg had one save and earned the shutout.
Sporting KC advances to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. July 12 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park against the Richmond Kickers. Richmond — a USL PRO squad — advanced by upsetting the Columbus Crew 2-1 Tuesday night.
“We’re going to have to get prepared for that next round,” Vermes said. “They’re a team that comes to fight. It’ll be a tough game for us. I think we’ve figured out how to manage a game for 90 minutes. The change from one half to the other is a good thing. I think we have some good depth and some guys that are in good form. We have the right mentality regarding people getting their opportunities. They’re playing hard and not letting those slip away.”
— Tuesday’s attendance was 4,487, the first non-sellout at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
— It’s the sixth time Sporting KC has advanced to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and the first time since 2009.
— Sporting KC is unbeaten in nine straight games.
— Home Grown Player Kevin Ellis made his first-team debut in the 63rd minute. He is the club’s first Home Grown Player to appear in a first-team match.
— The shutout was Sporting KC’s fifth shutout in its last seven games.
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