U.S. Open Cup

Sporting KC captures U.S. Open Cup, ends Sounders' title reign


Sporting Kansas City did something Wednesday night that no team across any level of U.S. Soccer had been able to do in the last four years: Defeat the Seattle Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup.

Sporting Kansas City captured its second U.S. Open Cup in franchise history, outlasting the Sounders in penalties 3-2 after a 1-1 draw through regulation and extra time and ending the Sounders' hopes of becoming the first team to win four straight tournament titles. As a result, Sporting KC earns an berth into the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League in addition to pocketing $100,000 in prize money.

Seattle held a brief edge early in the shootout, with Michael Gspurning saving Roger Espinoza's attempt and Marc Burch giving the Sounders a 2-1 lead.

Gspurning was at the heart of the real turning point in the PK shootout, though, with the count at 2-2. He was whistled for coming off his line too early by referee Ricardo Salazar prior to saving Paulo Nagamura's attempt, and Nagamura went on to score the re-take. Eddie Johnson skied Seattle's final attempt on the ensuing kick to end the match and send the capacity crowd at Livestrong Sporting Park into a frenzy.

Osvaldo Alonso and Christian Tiffert also missed for Seattle, which converted its first two penalties before missing the final three. Sporting KC was marginally better, but had Graham Zusi attempt a Panenka only to chip it over the bar in addition to Espinoza's failed conversion. Espinoza, who just rejoined the team from his Olympic quest with Honduras and was playing with an injured shoulder, played all 120 minutes.

Sporting KC looked to be in position to capture the 99th Open Cup title in regulation, after Patrick Ianni was whistled for a handball in the box off a cross from Teal Bunbury in the 84th minute. Kei Kamara stepped to the spot and beat Gspurning to snap the scoreless deadlock.

Zach Scott answered for Seattle just two minutes later, though, heading home a well-placed free kick from Mauro Rosales to level the score and conjure memories of past Seattle-Kansas City matchups, during which Seattle scored in the final minutes to shatter SKC's hopes. This script had a different ending though, with Sporting KC emerging victorious and lifting the trophy for the first time since 2004.

Overall, the game was marked by physical play and a dearth of quality chances. Jimmy Nielsen came up big in the first half, denying Johnson of a goal-bound header that looked destined for the lower right corner in the 30th minute. Six minutes prior to that, Kamara hit the post with a dipping shot from distance, but neither side truly threatened until the final flurry at the end of regulation. 


What did you think of the match? Was Salazar's call on Gspurning too harsh? Excited to see what Sporting KC can do in the CCL next year?

Share your thoughts below.

  • John

    Let me start that I am a SKC fan and was lucky enough to be there. I’m also a referee so let me respond that way

    Can’t say on the kftm retake as I was on the other side of the field. But every keeper comes off his line. Your call is based on how far and how soon.

    Alonso’s card was deserved. He made a yellow worthy tackle. Salazar wasn’t going to card him for the tackle, but then Alonzo threw his hands in the ref’s face and stormed off as Salazar was talking to him. Reaction combined with tackle=obvious yellow.


  • chupacabra

    LOL at the butthurt Seattle fans blaming the ref for actually making a call correctly and then calling it “poor officiating.” You can post all the Zapruder freeze frame evidence you want showing Nielsen “did it too,” but the fact is the that the human mind doesn’t have a slow mo frame-by-frame DVR in it. The average human response time is 200-300 milliseconds, so a better way to determine if the call was right is to go about a half second before the kick was taken, not the exact moment it was taken. Nielsen and Gspurning may both have already encroached when the shot was taken, but I’ll bet that Gspurning was off the line earlier, which is why the refs noticed it and called it.

    Maybe you should follow the lead of other MLS team fans and blame your own players – i.e., Gspurning for encroaching and Alonso and Johnson for missing BADLY – before you all pile on the officials.


  • Chief Hung Like A Bear

    How about a big hand for the USSF and GolTV for that excellent, first-class TV production.

    Nothing says this event is a priority and important like a quality television production of that caliber.


  • John

    If that’s Tiefert, you might have an argument. Pictures still need to see where the keepers are during the run-up. Seattle looks seet, SKC still coming up.

    If not Tiefert, irrelevant. Only make the call if it is saved


  • Brett

    CITY!! Well done Sporting! Up next, winning the Supporters Shield so we can get homefield advantage in the MLS Cup final. (Best of luck Sounders, please beat San Jose this weekend so they remain in striking distance)


  • SteveE

    Wont comment on the game, but I will comment on GolTV. They make FSC look like gods. They couldn’t pronouce Gspurning, Montero, and the SOUNDERS at one point? Seriously? They didn’t even know how much time was left at one point in the ET. They picked up some gems to announce that game.


  • Andy in Atlanta

    For as bad as it was… Zusi’s was worse… trying to be cheeky and looking like a fool.. Eddie just wanted to hammer it since Nielson was dancing around like a fool in front of him…

    Also very classy by Nagumura yelling to Eddie “Hey Eddie, you are going to F ing miss it”…. right after he was just bailed out by the ref…


  • Tom

    Absolutely not. Gspurning was at least a yard off his line when the kick was taken. It was obvious and the correct call. Any ref would have made that call.


  • Josh

    My point exactly. You can’t judge the call based on a picture after the kick is taken. I was simply pointing out that this guy’s premise is pointless. The pictures don’t make it an obvious “anti-Sounders” call.

    Also, Nimajneb, using a thesaurus doesn’t make your comment any better. It’s a message board


  • Kris

    Yeah I remember Carlos Costly was getting flipped off by everyone after his playoff goal at Livestrong.


  • Bryan

    It’s not their fault they take advantage of a terrible rule. It’s a bid process, one that was much murkier in previous years. I suppose they should have just skipped the bid then because the USOC belongs to everyone?

    You remind me of the jealous poor kid who goes to the rich kids birthday party and tells him how crappy his presents are. Hate the rich kids parents for spoiling him. Hate Sunil for profit-mongering what could be a much more special tournament.


  • Bryan

    Salazar is terrible. I congratulate SKC on a good win, it was a hell of a fun game to watch. What eats at me the day after is the feeling like things could have been different if the ref didn’t stick his nose in. What if’s that are out of the teams control are hard to cope with.


  • Nimajneb

    it’s tiffert. Both keepers slightly coming off the line is obvious both in the stills and in real time (heck, elsewhere on the internet I pointed it out on Nielsen’s save even before Gspurning’s).

    Let’s make something clear, which I did upthread. Take nothing away from KC,,, they’re creditable open cup champions and played well enough for the win. The scarcity of quality chances to score on both sides of the ball meant that the game would likely be decided in just such a fluky manner on either side.

    That doesn’t change the fact that Salazar’s officiating was abysmal. Physicality was essentially identical between the teams and yet the yellows ran 5-0. Incidental handballs were called or not called on the ref’s whim, and two identical pk saves received the same arbitration. It is possible at once to congratulate an opposing team on their play and their championship and at the same time suggest that the officials need to to better (or be better officials) for the sake of all players and fans.

    Cuz when Salazar does it to you, you won’t be laughing or (chupacabra) resorting to schoolyard taunts.


  • Nimajneb

    “using a thesaurus”

    What are you, 12? Respond to substance or don’t bother responding at all.


  • THomas

    Is that guy the only ref in MLS? Not saying he doesn’t do a good job, but he’s literally the only ref I ever see.


  • Tom

    Then you weren’t watching very closely. Gspurning moved forward off his line as Nagamura started his run-up. If you’re a goalkeeper, and I’m a goalkeeper too, you know you can’t move forward until the ball is kicked. As I said in a previous post, it was obvious and any ref should make that call.


  • Tom

    Nope, you don’t stop the shot. The shooter gets his chance in this situation. If it goes in it’s good. If the keeper saves it it’s a retake. Not sure what happens if the shooter completely misses the goal.


  • KarlthewonderYak

    EJ’s extra point was good. Should have gone to the next round tied 3-3.


  • cairo

    Two comments:
    1. The hate for the Sounders is really misplaced. In most leagues, this kind of vitriol is saved for the big city teams with the biggest payroll (Yankees, Red Sox, Lakers, Cowboys, etc…). MLS fans hate the Sounders because they are managed really well and have enthusiastic home support? Really odd…
    2. As much as I love soccer, I hate the state of officiating in this game (not MLS, but all soccer/football leagues). It’s incredibly inconsistent, games are often decided by the referee, players regularly are allowed to use gamesmanship, and the authority of the referees is constantly challenged on and off the field. It’s more than a little ridiculous and it would be great if MLS became a leader in this regard, rather than a follower. More refs, more technology, maybe instant replay or challenge flags. Something, because it really cheapens the game (before people start bashing MLS, it’s the same in the Premier League)


  • Matt

    Just in case anyone from USSF or GolTV reads this, I think Chief Hung Like A Bear forgot the /sarcasm tags.


  • bryan

    terrible taken PKs on both sides. both keepers were off their lines more than they were on them. so, to me, it all balances out and KC wins. get over it seattle.

    having said that, it does say something about the refs. very inconsistent.


  • Alister

    new to MLS..how do these trophy’s rank?

    League – Supporters Shield Trophy



  • Falsify

    1. MLS Cup
    2. Supporters Shield (homefield advantage in playoffs)
    3. US Open Cup


  • The Imperative Voice

    Usually they won’t even let you take the kick if the keeper is starting from an improper position. They will hold the kick and back the keeper up. It’s one thing if you take the proverbial quick jump forward slightly before the kick and violate the rule after people are set but they have the ARs on the line in part to get the GK lined up beforehand.

    In any case it’s the keeper’s problem.


  • BoBo

    We need some tissues for all the crying Seattle fans on here. It’s like a nursery with all the crying. Suck it up and move on.


  • The Imperative Voice

    I don’t think a team that misses several kicks in a row can blame anyone but themselves, re-kick or not.

    I’m not sure I’d rely on EJ to do anything, he is the epitome of the Oduro-type complimentary athletic player who can be an effective cog in a decent team but individually has a crap skill level and execution.


  • Kejsare

    If enthusiastic means that you disregard 120 prior minutes of not winning the game and three poorly taken PKs, sure.


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