2017 US Open Cup Final Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls

2017 US Open Cup Final: Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls

Children’s Mercy Park – Wednesday, September 20 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 10/11 – Draw 23/10 – NY Red Bulls 3/1

Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls: 2017 US Open Cup Final Preview

It’s here. The 2017 US Open Cup Final will take place at Children’s Mercy Park as Sporting Kansas City take on the New York Red Bulls.

Three-time winners SKC will be looking to win their third Open Cup title in six years, while the Red Bulls are bidding to win the trophy for the first time. This is their first Open Cup final since 2003, where they lost 1-0 to the Chicago Fire.

Sporting KC’s route to the final has been fairly straightforward. They kept clean sheets in their first three games, beating Minnesota, Houston and FC Dallas. Their semi-final clash at San Jose was a little more tricky, but they advanced on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time.

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The Red Bulls came close to being eliminated by this year’s surprise package in the semi-final. FC Cincinnati were 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go but a late comeback, followed by a Bradley Wright-Phillips winner in extra-time earned the Red Bulls their ticket to the final.

Wins over New York City FC, Philadelphia Union and the New England Revolution preceded that semi-final victory. The Red Bulls know they are the underdogs for Wednesday night’s game. But as we all know, anything can happen in a final.

Neither side comes into the game in great form. SKC have only won two of their last five, while the Red Bulls are winless in five, having drawing four on the spin.

Their lone regular season meeting this season ended in a 2-0 win for Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park. A repeat result here would see SKC pick up their fourth US Open Cup title. Victory would also make Sporting KC the only MLS club with four major trophies since 2012. They are currently tied with Seattle on three over the past six seasons.

Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls: 2017 US Open Cup Final Team News

Peter Vermes named a strong starting lineup for the 3-1 win over New England at the weekend. Soni Mustivar and Cameron Porter are ruled out through injury. Daniel Salloi is listed as questionable with a hip injury.

New York Red Bulls boss Jesse Marsch is expected to set up with five at the back as he looks to make it difficult for SKC. Ryan Meara will keep his place in goal for the final, after playing every game in the competition so far this season. Gideon Baah, Mike Grella and Daniel Royer remain injured. While former Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin is also still out with an ongoing foot problem. Marsch rested a host of first-team regulars on Sunday night, so the Red Bulls should be fresh on Wednesday.

Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls: 2017 US Open Cup Final: Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/W/L/D/W

New York Red Bulls’ last five: L/D/D/D/D

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City have never lost a US Open Cup final, winning on all three previous trips to the main event. They won both of their last two titles on penalties.

Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – The Red Bulls forward has scored three goals in four games in the US Open Cup this season. He will be tasked with trying to break down an SKC defence that has been the best in MLS this season. He proved to be the match winner in the semi-final clash with FC Cincinnati and will be looking to do the same here.

Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls: 2017 US Open Cup Final Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1* New York Red Bulls – Sporting Kansas City’s past two US Open Cup final wins have come on penalties. We think with this one being finely poised, a shootout may well be necessary again to determine the 2017 champion. The Red Bulls have a long-standing history of failing in knockout competitions. But they have an experienced group that should be able to get the job done. If it does go to penalties, it really is a lottery. But we think the Red Bulls would just edge it in a shootout. Expect it to be close. Expect it to be hard-fought. But most of all: Expect the unexpected.

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A look at what the US Open Cup means as MLS sides change focus

By Drew Farmer – Twitter: @CalcioFarmer

The Major League Soccer season took a backseat to domestic cup matches this week in the USA. Ten MLS teams took to the field on Tuesday night in the fourth round of US Open Cup action, with seven more playing on Wednesday.

Although no real upsets were recorded Tuesday night, three MLS teams were pushed by lower league sides to extra-time or penalties.

In a match that pitted eternal rivals, Portland and Seattle, in an all-MLS fixture; the Timbers knocked out the defending champions in extra-time. All in all, an exciting night of domestic cup action. Wednesday night should be just as good, with the juiciest fixture seeing New York City FC battle New York Cosmos.

Don’t miss: Sounders end game with 7 players as Portland beat reigning champion in US Open Cup thriller

And while the general US soccer fan may not quite understand the idea behind watching lower league opposition play the USA’s top-flight teams in a cup tournament, there were some positives the Open Cup may increase in popularity.

Sporting KC welcomed 19,298 fans to Sporting Park to see the 2012 cup winners defeat St. Louis FC. With Sporting’s stadium now located on the Kansas side of the border, this can’t be called an intra-Missouri rival. But the game still held enough significance amongst fans to see them turnout in droves.

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For those that say US soccer doesn’t have any history, the Open Cup is a perfect example that they are wrong. The tournament began in 1913/14 and was based on English football’s FA Cup competition. Due to the high immigrant populations in the northeast of the country and the creation of soccer teams influenced by their homelands, the trophy resided its first seven years in that region. As a matter of fact, three teams traded the cup amongst themselves during that time: Brooklyn Field Club, Bethlehem Steel and Fall River Rovers.

It wasn’t until the 1919/20 Open Cup that the trophy found a home away from the east coast. That season, Ben Millers of St. Louis won the tournament, bringing the cup to the Gateway city.

Like numerous soccer teams and even semi-professional baseball teams of the time, Ben Millers received its name as a company team. Ben Millers, a local hat company, was the sponsors of the club.

While soccer has hit peaks and valleys in the US over the years, the tournament lived in obscurity for much of its history. The North American Soccer League, which seemingly had no interest in being a traditional soccer league, chose to ignore the domestic cup. Until the advent of MLS, “professional” teams in the US didn’t participate regularly.

Since the arrival of MLS teams, only one season has seen a lower league side take the cup. That year, 1999, the Rochester Rhinos defeated Colorado Rapids in front of an estimated 4,555.

Rochester Rhinos lift the 1999 US Open Cup (Photo: TheCup.us)

Rochester Rhinos lift the 1999 US Open Cup (Photo: TheCup.us)

What is the draw of the Open Cup? Of course, there is the opportunity to see a semi-professional team take on MLS quality stars. In addition, like England’s FA Cup, the big stars may very well be out of their elements; playing on a soccer pitch typically used by universities, high schools or for training. Which is the equivalent of seeing an arena rock band like the Foo Fighters in a small dingy club.

This season could be the coming out party of the US Open Cup into the American soccer mainstream. The game is currently on a high, continually rising; and the appeal is there for the American fan. Meanwhile, the cup’s uniqueness could endear it to American sports.

With teams taking it seriously, lower league soccer clubs popping up all over the country and record MLS crowds, there’s no reason the cup can’t become an even bigger prize than it already is seen as.

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The US Open Cup has already endured 102 years since its inception in 1913. It has battled disinterest and low attendance, but now after all these years, a new set of fans and teams have found its appeal.

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that has writes for MLSGB and World Soccer Talk. Drew has also been read on Forza Italian Football and Soccerly. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, English football and USA soccer.

Sounders end game with 7 players as Portland beat reigning champions in thriller

The standout fixture of this year’s US Open Cup fourth round didn’t disappoint as far as drama goes as Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers played out a thriller at Starfire Sports Complex on Tuesday night.

The Timbers ended a six-game winless run against the Sounders with a 3-1 extra-time victory, but their task was made considerably easier given the fact Seattle ended the match with four men less than their Cascadia rivals.

Brad Evans, Michael Azira and Clint Dempsey were all sent off for the Sounders, while Obafemi Martins left the game on a stretcher after all three subs had been made, dumping last year’s Open Cup champions out of the competition at their first attempt to retain their crown.

Portland opened the scoring in the 48th minute as star playmaker Diego Valeri converted Rodney Wallace’s cross. Things then got better for the visitors as referee Daniel Radford showed Brad Evans a second yellow card for a foul on Jorge Villafana.

Photo: Max Aquino

Photo: Max Aquino

Seattle managed to claw their way back into the game though, despite being a man down, as Martins equalised on 79 minutes to take the game to extra time in front of the 4,022 supporters in attendance.

But the Nigerian striker was stretchered off before the game went into extra-time, leaving Seattle down to nine men and things only went from bad to worse from that point for the holders.

Wallace scored for the Timbers in the 100th minute, before Michael Azira and Dempsey were both sent off in quick succession, leaving the Rave Green down to seven, before Maximiliano Urruti sealed the win with Portland’s third goal to see them through 3-1.

Photo: Max Aquino

Photo: Max Aquino

The defeat was Seattle’s first loss in 17 matches at Starfire Stadium in Lamar Hunt US Open Cup history, while they allowed more than one goal in a match for the first time as a participant in the competition.

Portland will be delighted though and after beating the holders, Caleb Porter’s side will be dreaming of a first US Open Cup trophy this season.

“We knew this was going to be an intense game. Obviously this is a derby, bitter rivals, a cup game so we knew it was going to be a challenge for us,” Porter said after the game.

Photo: Max Aquino

Photo: Max Aquino

 

“History said we wouldn’t win this game because they had never lost on this field in the Open Cup and they have won the Open Cup four times. I was proud of our groups mentality. They looked like they were up for it. They were mature, they kept their heads. I was proud of that.”

The Cascadia rivals next meet in 11 days at Providence Park for the second of three MLS meetings between the two Western Conference sides this season.

Seattle Sounders looking to extend fine run against Portland in defence of US Open Cup

The fourth round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup gets underway tonight and that means the introduction of all 17 US-based MLS sides to the competition.

There are some intriguing fixtures across the country but none bigger than the battle between Cascadia rivals and Western Conference giants, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers.

The fierce rivals play in the final game of the night on Tuesday at 22:30 ET (03:30 BST) and Seattle will be hoping to call on recent history as they kick off their campaign in defence of the competition they won for a fourth time last year.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Portland won’t have to play in front of the deafening CenturyLink audience on Tuesday night but a trip to Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila won’t necessarily mean things are any easier for Caleb Porter’s men.

The Sounders have not lost in any of the last six meetings between the two sides, including an extra-time win against the Timbers in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup last term.

They have already faced off once in MLS this year, with Seattle winning 1-0 at home to make it three in a row against their Northwest rivals.

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Portland do come into the game off the back of three straight league wins and will be confident. Porter has admitted there’s no tougher game in the competition at this stage than the one the Timbers face against their Cascadia rivals and reigning champions, but he’s staying positive.

“We got the toughest draw of anybody, but in some ways we like it because we have a chance to knock off the team that won it last year, which would mean we have a really good chance of winning it if that happens. But we certainly have the toughest game of any team.”

Key stats:

– Seattle have won the last three meetings between the two teams.

– The Sounders have not lost to Portland in their last six games in all competitions.

– Seattle boast an impressive 19-0-1 record in competitive matches at the Starfire Stadium since 2005.

Will the Seattle Sounders make it four wins in a row against the Timbers on Tuesday night?

Teal Bunbury: We can win the MLS Cup

Teal Bunbury believes New England Revolution can win trophies in 2015 after an “unbelievable” first year with the club.

“The welcoming I got throughout the whole year just progressed and it was an unbelievable season. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was exciting and I’m still excited to this day to be part of the Revs,” said Bunbury while talking to the New England Revolution YouTube channel.

Bunbury joined the Revs after a four-year spell at Sporting Kansas City and chipped in with six goals and eight assists from his 35 appearances in all competitions.

The 24-year-old forward come winger is in a confident mood heading into the new season.

“I hope it’s just like last year, I want it to be a progression. I want to be able to give all I can on the field. And this year, I feel we can win the MLS Cup and Open Cup as well.”

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New England Revolution fell just short of winning their first ever MLS Cup in 2014 when they lost 2-1 to LA Galaxy after an extra-time winner from Robbie Keane in what was a pulsating final.

The Revs have now been to five MLS Cup finals and have failed to get over the line on every occasion, but Bunbury feels this New England side has the spirit to finally win that elusive title in 2015.

“When you’re a player it’s all about winning games, it’s about winning championships and that’s really what you play for. You obviously want do well individually, but as a team I feel this group of guys has the best chemistry I’ve seen on any team, through my club days when I was younger up until now.”

Can Teal Bunbury and the New England Revolution win the MLS Cup in 2015?