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US Open Cup Finals Preview: Sporting KC v NY Red Bulls

We want the Cup! Gotta have that Cup!

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v New York Red Bulls (#SKCvNY)

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 at 8:00 PM CT

How to Watch (Stream): ESPN 2 |

Sporting Kansas City welcome the NY Red Bulls to Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park for the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final on Wednesday. Sporting will be looking for their fourth Open Cup title (and third in six years) while the Red Bulls will be shooting for their first. SKC won the whole thing in 2004, 2012 and 2015. They are a perfect 3-0 in US Open Finals. New York haven’t been to a final since 2003, where they lost.

Recent history bodes well for Sporting at home too. They are 6-0-1 at home in the US Open Cup since 2015, with the draw being their last outing against the San Jose Earthquakes which was eventually won in dramatic fashion.

Not to be left out of the drama, the New York Red Bulls trailed FC Cincinnati (USL) in the semi-finals before scoring in the 75th and 78th minutes to send the match to extra time. Bradley Wright-Phillips would eventually net the winner in extra time to secure New York’s place in the finals.

An interesting note is the strategy of the coaches coming into Wednesday’s game. Sporting KC played on Saturday and played all their regular starters except Roger Espinoza, who was suspended for yellow card accumulation. The Red Bulls on the other hand sat nearly all their starters at the beginning of the game and brought on Sacha Kljestan and BWP to try to win in the second half.

The extra minutes on the SKC starters, despite playing against a 10-man New England side, still could lead to some exhaustion. Especially since the last two Open Cup games for Sporting have gone to extra time. 120 minutes, when Peter Vermes refuses to use his subs, could be really hard on the guys.


Sporting KC

OUT: Cameron Porter (broken fibula and ligament damage in right ankle), Soni Mustivar (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE: Daniel Salloi (hip injury)

Red Bulls

OUT: Gideon Baah (broken leg), Mike Grella (knee surgery), Daniel Royer (knee injury), Aurelien Collin (plantar fasciitis)



Sporting KC - None

Red Bulls - None

Recent Form (Open Cup)

Sporting KC - Last Five: L/W/W/W/D (The draw is the San Jose shootout)

Red Bulls - Last Five: L/W/D/W/W (Their draw is a shootout with Philadelphia)

Leading Scorers (League Play)

  • Sporting KC: Gerso Fernandes (8), Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer (5), Diego Rubio (4), Latif Blessing (3)
  • Red Bulls: Bradley Wright-Phillips (15), Daniel Royer (10), Alex Muyl (3)

Starting XI Predictions

One would have to suspect first team lineups on the field for both squads. The notable exception will be Ryan Meara in goal over 2015 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Luis Robles. Meara has started all four prior Open Cup games for RBNY and posted a 3-0-1 record with two shutouts and a penalty kick shootout win. In league play Meara has almost no experience having not started since 2015 when he was on loan with NYCFC (a 1-0 loss). Prior to that, in league play, he started 18 games for the Red Bulls way back in 2012.

One other exception will be former SKC man Collin. He’s been sidelined with a foot injury for quite a while and there has been no indication that will change. He still has not played his return match in Kansas City since leaving the club. Knowing his ability to score late and important goals on that pitch, I’m not sure SKC fans will miss him.

Before we go any further on lineups, here is a quick reminder that there are rules around loaning players from USL teams to MLS clubs. During the regular season they can only be done in the case of extreme hardships but it changes during the Open Cup.

Sporting KC are really figuring out how to work the international rules though because they’ve gotten green cards for Gerso, Jimmy Medranda and Diego Rubio this season, so they don’t count as internationals anymore. That leaves only seven internationals on the roster and Mustivar is out hurt. If Salloi is out, then the decision is made. If he can go, then Tyler Pasher likely gets bumped (though he’s been with Swope Park mostly anyways).

As for who starts, it almost has to be a first choice lineup. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Benny Feilhaber start on the bench, like he did against FC Dallas, so he can come on and change the game. Especially with everyone but Espinoza playing this past Saturday. The same could be true for Cristian Lobato taking one of the wing spots and having Gerso or Latif available as super subs.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Feilhaber, Palmer-Brown, Oliveira, Salloi, Abdul-Salaam, Lobato

[In the fan vote you guys picked it the same, but with Feilhaber over Medranda. I also was torn on putting Oliveira on the bench but he played for SKC Saturday and Swope Park Rangers on Sunday. That’s a lot of running. But he provides more than a James Musa might off the bench, especially with EPB experienced at defensive midfielder and center back.]

As for picking at winner, and there has to be one even if it goes to penalties, it’s really tough. Sporting KC should have advantages by playing at home and being here before. They are seeking to win their fourth major trophy since 2012, which would be the best in the league.

It seems, as always, that it will come down to the vaunted Sporting KC defense against Bradley Wright-Phillips. BWP has 15 goals this season in league play (18 in all competitions). He’s hit or miss against KC. In 2014 he had a brace in the playoff game that sent Sporting home that year. He scored six times against Sporting that year. Since then, he has been held scoreless in three straight games.

Despite that, the Red Bulls have only lost once at CMP since the stadium opened. That was a 2-0 game earlier this season in which Dom Dwyer scored both goals. Dwyer is gone and Diego Rubio is here in his place. Rubio has shown well in limited minutes. In the regular season Rubio has four goals in 586 minutes or 0.61 goals per game. Dwyer had five goals but over 1271 minutes or 0.35 goals per game. That doesn’t mean Rubio will cause New York trouble as he plays an entirely different style than Dwyer.

Prediction: I just can’t choose.

I’ve decided against picking at winner because I’m too nervous. The signs seem mostly good for SKC, but they’ve become leaky lately. Since June 19th they only have one shut out. If New York gets one, that could be enough. Despite their occasional offensive burst, Sporting are still 18th in the league in score goals. However they have put in 28 goals at home (versus seven on the road).

I’m actually hoping on a plane this morning and flying to Kansas City for the final. I’m not even superstitious but I feel like I may jinx them nonetheless. I hope to see you all there and to be celebrating another trophy while watching the wall be painted on Wednesday night.

Who do you think will start? Who do you think should start? And what is your prediction for an outcome? Let us know in the comments.