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US Open Cup: Sporting KC v Union Omaha — Preview & How to Watch

Only eight teams are left and just three wins will be needed for someone to lift the trophy.

MLS: US Open Cup-Union Omaha at Minnesota United FC
Union Omaha midfielder Chavany Willis (6) and midfielder John Scearce (right) react after the game against Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC vs. Union Omaha

WHEN: Wednesday, June 22 | 7:30 PM CT (7:30 kickoff)

WHERE: Children’s Mercy Park | Kansas City, KS

How to Watch/Stream: ESPN+ (link)

How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB (English), La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

Just three more wins. That’s all it takes for one of these two sides, or the other six sides remaining, to lift a trophy in the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. It’s the first version of the tournament after 2020 and 2021 were cancelled due to COVID. Sporting Kansas City will host (that hardly seems fair) USL League One side Union Omaha (who have at least 700 fans travelling to the game). They are one of two lower division sides left and the only one from one of the third divisions in the United States of America.

The quarter final rounds will mostly be played on Tuesday and Wednesday with the final game played a week from Wednesday in Orlando. Then the advancing teams will be re-drawn on June 23rd to know who will host the rest of the way.

(Update: Sacramento Republic defeated the LA Galaxy 2-1 and will face the winner of SKC/Omaha.)

How Did We Get Here?

Sporting KC, being a high ranking MLS team from 2021, entered in the Fourth Round of the Cup (all but eight teams entered in round three). They had a come from behind victory against FC Dallas before defeating the Houston Dynamo, with both games coming at home.

Union Omaha had a harder path entering in the second round. They defeated reigning USL League Two champions, the Des Moines Menace before beating the Chicago Fire (MLS) and then fellow League One side the Northern Colorado Hailstorm. After that, they dispatched Minnesota United in the round of 32.

An Omaha Perspective

For the best preview we can give you, look for the insight from Luke Opperman, host of the “Who Gives a Hoot” podcast that is dedicated to Union Omaha coverage. He joined The Blue Testament for a quick 20-minute preview, including tidbits about their ability to not possess the ball and counter teams (uh oh, Sporting’s kryptonite).

Injuries

SPORTING KC

OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI - knee surgery), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring), Nikola Vujnovic (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE - None

OMAHA

OUT - Giovanni Montesdeoca (ACL)

QUESTIONABLE - None

Starting XI

At this point, I’m frankly not sure what to expect in the lineup. In the Dallas game is was wholesale rotation until a bunch of changes brought in starters. In Houston, it was a little more mixed, but the team was banged up so there were only so many options.

What I do expect is John Pulskamp to keep being the starting keeper. After a shaky turnover early against Dallas led to a goal, he’s mostly settled down. He didn’t play with SKC II on the weekend so he should be ready to go.

As for who joins him, I’d think you’d rest guys like Graham Zusi and either play Ben Sweat out of position or, my preference, Kayden Pierre. I imagine the young Homegrowns who have broken into the starting lineup will still play here (Cam Duke and Felipe Hernandez). It could be a chance for Robert Voloder and Kortne Ford to play themselves back into the good graces of Peter Vermes after a half-time benching versus the New England Revolution.

Uri Rosell is well rested coming off a red card suspension but at this point I’m not sure he should be stepping back onto the field unless it’s an emergency. However, it may be with Remi Walter a little banged up and not going the full 90 for the first time since October of last year, not counting his injury sub in the Revs game. The forward line is anyone’s guess. Tzionis seems like a candidate to start but someone from the starters (or multiple someones) have to play because there just aren’t any bodies unless Sporting are making a loan from the second team.

Overall, I’m really unsure, but I think even if some starters don’t start the game, they are coming in to try and win it at some point.

I’m not even going to bother guessing a bench.

Prediction

This game is the definition of a trap game.

Omaha are two divisions below Sporting KC and in fact their II’s play against them regularly in preseason (Omaha are up 1-0-1 all-time against SKC II). However, as previewed on the podcast, they play a style that is tough to breakdown and they are looking to hit on the counter. That’s exactly where Sporting KC are the weakest.

I just have to think SKC will be up for this game with it possibly being the only trophy they have a legit shot at in 2022. But I’m nervous, and you should be too.

Sporting KC Win 3-1