Ask and you shall receive, want and you shall...win? Kansas City wanted the cup and the cup is exactly what they got tonight after Sporting KC took down the New York Red Bulls 2-1 at Children's Mercy Park in a highly-anticipated championship match.
Fans piled inside Children's Mercy Park, making up for Sporting's third largest attendance in its history, to watch their boys in blue take on the New York Red Bulls for their third U.S. Open Cup championship title.
The atmosphere inside of the stadium was electric as both teams came out of the gates hot and with one goal: to walk away champions. The opening minutes proved to be entertaining after a high-quality chance from Diego Rubio to Gerso in the third minute was followed by a yellow card for Seth Sinovic in the fourth.
The excitement continued as Gerso got yet another early chance just moments later in the box in the tenth minute. With only New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara standing between him and the back of the net, he tried to pass it off to Benny Feilhaber at the top of the box where it was intercepted by the Red Bulls’ defense.
New York found their stride and tempo, dominating possession and finding close back-to-back chances in the 14th minute, which were cleared by Ike Opara and Tim Melia. Sporting was finally able to break through the Red Bulls tight control and find some momentum of their own after some close calls in their own box.
Sporting's efforts up top came to fruition at the 25th minute. U.S. Open Cup veteran Graham Zusi sent a flawless pass across the box, which found the head of Latif Blessing, who knocked in a textbook head ball goal, putting Sporting up 1-0 early.
Kansas City, or should I say, Gerso, had yet another missed opportunity in the first half at the 40th minute when a long clear out of the defense by Blessing opened up a fast breakaway for Gerso — whose shot was cleared out by Meara.
"Gerso could've scored a hat trick in the first half," Sporting head coach Peter Vermes said following the win. "It's a shame we didn't put more in earlier to give ourselves a cushion."
Despite controlling nearly 60 percent of the remainder of the half, New York couldn't quite find the equalizer and ended the half down 0-1 against Sporting.
The second half started with the addition of Daniel Salloi in for Blessing, after a substitution in the final minutes of the first half, and Jimmy Medranda in for Gerso at the 55th minute.
Some foul trouble for both teams at the start of the second eventually resulted in the Red Bulls picking up a yellow of their own but, despite this, they continued to push hard and maintain control of the match.
“We knew this was going to be a very difficult match in that they were going to throw everything forward” Vermes said about New York's performance tonight. “They have a lot of young guys and sometimes they have no fear.”
Sporting found another opportunity when a long ball from Feilhaber sent Salloi into a foot race with the New York defense. In one flawless motion, Salloi flicked it on past Meara and into the goal to put Kansas City up 2-0 in the 66th minute.
Kansas City was able to hold New York off in the final stretch of the game, despite some dangerous chances, in which Tim Melia came up big to keep Sporting ahead.
Just as fans were beginning to think it was over, six minutes of extra time were added to the clock. New York wasted no time in trying to get back in the game. A goal from the Red Bull's Bradley Wright-Phillips in the opening seconds of extra time made it a one-score game with still five minutes remaining.
Sporting held on, but a foul called on Kansas City just outside of the box gave New York one last chance to tie the game and send it into extra time. Felipe wound up for the shot, but sent it over the crossbar — game over.
The crowd erupted and Sporting Kansas City won the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on their home field — their third in just six seasons.
"We’re unlucky not to come away with more” said New York head coach Jesse Marsch following the game. “The way that they played for each other will continue to make us good and give us confidence going forward."
Kansas City is back at it on Sunday where they will take on the LA Galaxy at 1 p.m. CT at Children's Mercy Park.