Sporting Kansas City cruised to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup quarterfinals with a comfortable 3-0 victory against the Chicago Fire Premier on Tuesday night.
Sporting got goals from Teal Bunbury, Milos Stojcev and Kei Kamara in front of a crowd of 4,487 on a balmy night at Livestrong Sporting Park to dispose of a squad made up of college players. Kansas City will now move on to the quarterfinals, where they will host the Richmond Kickers on July 12 at LSP after the USL side upet the Columbus Crew 2-1.
Kansas City didn’t waste any time exerting their dominance, jumping out to an early lead just three minutes into the match. After Kamara was fouled just outside the penalty area, Luke Sassano touched the ball to a waiting Bunbury, who smashed a shot low and inside the far post.
Sporting pushed for a second with Kamara and Bunbury both going wide with left-footed shots and generally causing trouble for the Fire defense. But manager Peter Vermes’ team couldn’t find a way to broach the Fire defense for the remainder of the half despite having nine shots to their opponents’ one.
Sporting’s best chance for their second goal came in the 26th minute, when Stojcev found himself on the end of some brilliant build up play. After captain Eric Kronberg beat oncoming pressure to find Aurélien Collin in open space, the ball moved quickly up the field, touching the feet of Birahim Diop, Bunbury and finally Michael Harrington before the right back sent cross to the penalty spot. Stojcev directed the ball on goal with David Meves helpless in goal, but his shot caromed off the joint between the crossbar and the post and out for a goal kick.
Though it was mostly quiet for the remainder of the half, Chicago had a goal called back for offside a few minutes before halftime, when forward Paulo Voz was judged to be offside after he latched on to a deflected shot at the back post.
Vermes went to his bench to start the second 45 minutes, inserting Graham Zusi for Sassano, who appeared to be struggling with an ankle injury. That change eventually breathed life into the Sporting attack and resulted in two rapid-fire goals from Stojcev and Kamara in the 58th and 59th minutes.
Stojcev’s goal was purely an individual effort, with the midfielder latching onto a loose ball and taking a few touches at the top of the box to then drive a screamer inside the post with his left foot.
Kamara followed that up just a minute later with his first goal of the season in the Open Cup. After Jonathan Raj hip-checked him to the ground and earned a yellow card, Zusi sent a dipping ball into the box that Kamara dove to head past Fire PDL ‘keeper Meves.
The three-goal lead prompted Vermes to remove Kamara for homegrown product Kevin Ellis, who made his club debut. And although Bunbury had a few fleeting chances the remainder of the game, Sporting was happy to save some energy, close the game out and move onto the next round.
Sporting now return to MLS action with a a trip to Portland, where they will face the Timbers on Saturday in hopes of extending their seven-game unbeaten streak.
(Photo courtesy of Taylor Allan.)
SKC – Teal Bunbury (Luke Sassano) 3
SKC – Milos Stojcev (unassisted) 58
SKC – Kei Kamara (Graham Zusi) 59
CFP – Jonathan Raj (caution; Reckless Tackle) 58
SKC – Birahim Diop (caution; Reckless Tackle) 87
Chicago Fire Premier -- David Meves, Hunter Gorskie, Kevin Cope, Jonathan Raj, Tyler Polak, Andrew Ribiero, Jacob Bushue (Callum Mallace 46) Chris Estridge, Ian Christianson, Harrison Petts (Brenden King 63), Paulo Voz
Substitutes Not Used: Jordan Godsey, Josey Portillo, Drew Russell, Goffin Boyoko, Bryan Ciesiulka
Sporting Kansas City -- Eric Kronberg, Michael Harrington, Shavar Thomas, Aurelien Collin (Matt Besler 83), Scott Lorenz, Luke Sassano (Graham Zusi 46), Birahim Diop, Milos Stojcev, Kei Kamara (Kevin Ellis 63), Teal Bunbury, Korede Aiyegbusi
Substitutes Not Used: Kempin, Omar Bravo, Chance Myers
Referee: Landis Wiley
Referee's Assistants: Richard Ominsi, Jon Fremon
4th Official: Terry Vaughn
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 81 degrees