Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not this time for the Sounders; Sporting Kansas City win the 2012 U.S. Open Cup final

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders since joining Major League Soccer, have won three straight U.S. Open Cup titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and last night had a chance to become the first ever team to win four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in a row, but it just wasn't to be. The Sounders and Sporting Kansas City battled it out all night long, but in the end it was Sporting Kansas City who lifted the trophy. The Sounders fell to Sporting Kansas City fell 3-2 on penalties which ended their three year title run. It was a physical battle between both sides from start to finish with a few controversial decisions but the bottomline is, KC are the new U.S. Open Cup Champions and for the Sounders, if they want to qualify for their fourth straight CONCACAF Champions League they're gonna have to do it the hard way by winning the Supporters Shield (finishing 1st overall in the regular season) or by reaching the MLS Cup final.

Kansas City enjoyed a good spell of possession early on and in the 12th minute, Kei Kamara got around Zach Scott and got off a tough shot. But his effort sailed high and wide.

In the 24th minute, Kamara had another chance at goal and this time he game the Sounders a real scare. After some lousy ball movement in the middle of the field, Graham Zusi poked the ball to Kamara who had lots of room. Zach Scott didn't come over to pressure him so Kamara gave it a go and the ball dipped over the head of Michael Gspurning, but the bar saved Seattle. Looking at the replay, the shot may have been deflected by Andy Rose, but you can not give Kei Kamara any space outside the area because he can really hit those shots out there.

About five minutes later, the Sounders nearly had a set piece opportunity and nearly made it count. Mauro Rosales, who has really turned his game around after a slow start, sent in an outswinger to the middle for Eddie Johnson for a downward header just outside the six yard area, but Jimmy Nielsen got down in time to deny Johnson who has 11 goals in all competitions and seven of those have been off his head. Johnson has become a primary target in the box in these situations.

Five minutes later, EJ had another big opportunity to give the Sounders the lead in the final. Zach Scott dispossessed Kei Kamara and found Eddie Johnson in the middle of the field. Seth Sinovic tried to side in and break up the play, but Johnson spun around and here's another area where Johnson is dangerous as he took on Lawrence Olum in a one on one situation. Johnson made a nice cut to get away from Olum and looked for the far corner, but the shot just went wide of Jimmy Nielsen's right hand side.

In the 38th minute, Seth Sinovic turned past Mauro Rosales and had a go from distance and most of the Sporting KC supporters thought that was in, but it hit side netting.

On the stroke of halftime, Kansas City had another good chance of taking the lead. Chance Myers looked to curl the ball into the area, but Jhon Kennedy Hurtado headed the ball away. The attack wasn't over yet, Kei Kamara picked up the ball and played it back out wide to Myers who curled it back into the area for Graham Zusi who was bunched up pretty good in the box. Zusi pushed the ball back to Roger Espinoza for a first timed shot, but it was hit right at Michael Gspurning.

In the 82nd minute, the Sounders were whistled for handball in the box and referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the penalty spot. Seth Sinovic played a good ball forward for Teal Bunbury on the near side. Bunbury cut the ball to his right foot and looked to chip it for Graham Zusi and they were saying that Zach Scott played the ball with his hand. I've been looking at the replay and I couldn't see where the handball took place and I don't understand how the referee saw that, because he was behind the defender. I mean, Zach Scott had his back turned on the referee so I don't get how he saw that. Kei Kamara stepped up for Sporting Kansas City and calmly slotted the ball past Michael Gspurning to put the home side up 1-0 with over six minutes to go plus stoppage time.

That lead was cut short however because in the 86th minute, the Sounders equalized. Mauro Rosales took the free kick and curled the ball toward the back post and found Zach Scott who was unmarked and Scott headed the ball inside the far corner. Jimmy Nielsen was froze on that play, didn't have a chance at that and the Sounders come right back and tie this baby up at one. The match went to extra time because this is a cup final. There wasn't much action in extra time due to tired legs on both sides so the final was decided by PK's.

Kei Kamara stepped up first for Sporting KC. Kamara went to the left side this time and Michael Gspurning was unlucky here because he guess right and got both hands to the ball, but it found the net and Sporting led 1-0. Brad Evans took the Sounders first attempt and went to the left side as well, sending goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen the wrong way. So it was 1-1 after round one.

In the second round, Roger Espinoza took the second PK attempt for Sporting. Espinoza went for placement and tried to slide the ball inside the left post, but Michael Gspurning guessed correctly and made the save. It was an awful penalty by Espinoza. With a chance to put Seattle in the driver's seat, Marc Burch stepped up to take Seattle's second penalty and he made no mistake as he powered it right down the middle and it was advantage Seattle. 2-1 Sounders after two rounds.

In round three, Matt Besler went for KC and he scored off the top of the crossbar. For the Sounders, Ozzie Alonso stepped up, looking to keep the advantage on his team's side but he skied his shot over the bar. I liked idea by Alonso, he got his foot behind the ball and struck it as hard as he could, but he got too far under it. So it was 2-2 after three rounds. It remained 2-2 after four rounds after both teams failed to convert their attempts.

In the fifth round, referee Ricardo Salazar makes another questionable decision. Paulo Nagamura stepped up to take the penalty and tried to go for the right corner and Michael Gspurning palmed it wide, but Salazar said that Gspurning jumped off his line early and he ordered the kick to be re-taken. Nagamura stepped up again and went for the other side and this time he converted. So now it was all up to Eddie Johnson to convert this pk and extend the shootout, but EJ got well under the ball and skied it over the top and Sporting Kansas City walked away as new U.S. Open Cup Champions.

It was a bit unfortunate for the Sounders to lose in the U.S. Open Cup. It was a hard fought battle. I thought the back line did very well. Michael Gspurning of course did very well in net for the Sounders. The Sounders have to put this loss behind and get ready for an even bigger match at San Jose against the Earthquakes. Hopefully by matchday, the lads are well rested and fully prepared for that one. Congrats to Sporting KC for winning the Open Cup title.

Scoring summary:

Sporting Kansas City - Kei Kamara (penalty kick) 84'

Seattle Sounders FC - Zach Scott (Mauro Rosales) 86'

Penalty summary:

Sporting Kansas City - Kei Kamara (GOAL; 1-0)

Seattle Sounders FC - Brad Evans (GOAL; 1-1)

Sporting Kansas City - Roger Espinoza (SAVED; 1-1)

Seattle Sounders FC - Marc Burch (GOAL; 1-2)

Sporting Kansas City - Matt Besler (GOAL; 2-2)

Seattle Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso (MISS; 2-2)

Sporting Kansas City - Graham Zusi (MISS; 2-2)

Seattle Sounders FC - Christian Tiffert (SAVED; 2-2)

Sporting Kansas City - Paulo Nagamura (GOAL; 3-2)

Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson (MISS; 3-2)

* Sporting Kansas City win 3-2 on Penalties

Misconduct summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso (caution; dissent) 4'

Seattle Sounders FC - Mauro Rosales (caution; foul) 57'

Seattle Sounders FC - Patrick Ianni (caution; foul) 73'

Seattle Sounders FC - Zach Scott (caution; foul) 93'

Seattle Sounders FC - Patrick Ianni (caution; foul) 118'

Seattle Sounders FC - Patrick Ianni (ejection; second yellow) 118'


Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning; Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leonardo Gonzalez; Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose (Christian Tiffert 69'), Alex Caskey (Brad Evans 69'); Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero (Marc Burch 105')

Sporting Kansas City - Jimmy Nielsen; Chance Myers, Lawrence Olum, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic (Michael Harrington 100'); Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar, Paulo Nagamura, Roger Espinoza; Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 88')

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