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Sporting Kansas City haunted by Minnesota United FC trio in Open Cup loss

Open Cup no remedy for Kansas City’s woes

MLS: U.S. Cup-Sporting KC at Minnesota United Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

That’s enough of them... a likely chorus ringing from Sporting Kansas City after Minnesota United FC’s Angelo Rodriguez, Darwin Quintero, and Ethan Finley swamped Kansas City for four goals in a 4-1 defeat Wednesday evening at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota, in a fourth round contest in the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament. Giveaways and allowing gaps in their defense doomed Sporting despite Gerso’s first half equalizer.

Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United FC were meeting in the Open Cup for the fourth time in six seasons, having split the series 3-3 thus far.

Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes ran out mostly a first-team lineup with Gerso, Daniel Salloi, and Yohan Croizet across the front backed by Benny Feilhaber, Felipe Gutierrez, and Ilie Sanchez in the midfield. The back and goalkeeper featured Jimmy Medranda (completing his injury comeback by starting for the first time since May 18 of last season), Andreu Fontas, Graham Smith, and Graham Zusi, backed by Adrian Zendejas.

The lineup answers a question wondered by some. Would Kansas City – currently out of the playoff picture in MLS play and sporting a litany of players who are (or have been) injured – go all in for the chance for hardware or rest the first-teamers and injured players and get valuable minutes for the younger players and those in backup roles. Having won the Open Cup in 2004, 2012, 2015, and 2017, most knew Sporting would be all in.

A giveaway 40 yards out in their own end meant a 2nd minute deficit for Sporting KC. Darwin Quintero won the ball and quickly fed Angelo Rodriguez whose shot split the wickets of Zendejas for a dream lead.

The hiccups continued for the visitors, and only a sparkling save by Zendejas lunging to his right to save an Ethan Finley strike off another Sporting giveaway in the 6th minute kept the early hole at one.

Moving the ball well to the wings, Kansas City restored some semblance of their usual possession-based order in the ensuing minutes. However, United’s continued forays on the right wing kept the Sporting defense on alert.

Yet Sporting’s movement off the ball enabled an equalizer. In the 27th minute, Gutierrez’s precise cross-field ball found Medranda running into the United box on the left. The left back one-touched on the fly for a more central Gerso. His left-footed shot bounced into the far corner of the net to level the match.

Sporting’s pressure resulted in multiple corners in the last of the half - sandwiched around a Quintero break halted by a Gutierrez yellow - but none were cashed in.

The first half ended with the deadlock, but Sporting had established some dominance, while Minnesota remained a persistent danger.

And it only took 45 seconds for danger to turn fatal. This time, Finley split Medranda and Fontas and scored easily to Zendejas’s right and into the far corner to put the home Loons up 2-1.

For Sporting, Finley was only a third of the nightmare. Rodriguez and Quintero reprised their haunting soon. Rodriguez received on the left wing and ran at Fontas. The Colombian cut on Fontas, the ball bounding off the prone Fontas, and lifted his head for the middle channel Quintero. Played in, Quintero slid at the 6 to put it past the shifting Zendejas for a 3-1 lead in the 56th minute.

Vermes’ men never die easy. Thus, Salloi put in a skillful effort two minutes later. In tight space on the right just off the six, Salloi turned neatly and chipped over United FC goalkeeper Vito Mannone and off the crossbar.

Gianluca Busio came in for Feilhaber shortly thereafter.

But to no avail as the Kansas City defense remained disjointed. The beefy Rodriguez fought off Fontas centrally deep in KC’s end and fed for a speeding Quintero in generous space on the left. Quintero rounded Zendejas, cut back on a sliding Smith, and deposited the ball into the net for a three-goal lead in the 67th minute.

And then there were five, or four... Sprung through the middle four minutes on, Rodriguez charged in from the left and finished past a hapless Zendejas. However, despite the apparent extended allowance of the goal, it was revealed that Rodriguez was offside on the play, thus the score remained at 4-1.

Seth Sinovic came in for Medranda and Kelyn Rowe for Croizet at the 75th minute mark.

A near Salloi came close in the 80th minute, foiled only by the foot of a defender, as Sporting kept up the good fight.

The script stayed true in the running out of the match, the 13th match in 14 without a win in all competitions in Kansas City’s most woeful run of form in recent memory. The boys in blue will now be idle until they travel to Columbus on Sunday, June 23, for an MLS matchup as they try to claw back into playoff contention within MLS. A spirited run to the CONCACAF Champions League semi-final remains the sole, but now distant, highlight of the season.