For Sporting KC, a chance to bring a title back to Kansas City
Teal Bunbury’s breakaway goal in the 20th minute and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen’s MLS-best 10th shutout of the season returned Sporting Kansas City to a share of first place in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 victory Saturday against the New England Revolution.
Sporting KC (12-7-4, 40 points) is tied with the Houston Dynamo atop the Eastern Conference standings and will return to Livestrong Sporting Park to host the Seattle Sounders in the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Kansas City will be the site of the country’s oldest soccer tournament. Named after the late Kansas City Chiefs and Sporting KC (then-Wizards) owner Lamar Hunt, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will crown its 99th champion.
Sporting KC last appeared in the tournament’s final in 2004, when, as the Wizards, the team defeated the Chicago Fire, 1-0, in front of 8,819 spectators at Arrowhead Stadium. Eight years later, in a new stadium and with a resurgent fanbase, Sporting KC looks to play in front of a crowd that will dwarf that of its last appearance.
If Sporting KC is to defeat Seattle on Wednesday, it will end a six-match home winless streak. Since defeating the Dayton Dutch Lions, 3-0, in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals on June 26, Sporting KC has gone 0-3-3 at Livestrong Sporting Park. Meanwhile, Sporting KC’s 3-1 road record has kept it atop the Eastern Conference and, with a July 11 victory at Philadelphia, set it up for Wednesday’s chance at bringing another championship to a city starved for one.
Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup final will be broadcast live on GolTV, available in Kansas City via Time Warner Cable (channel 344), SureWest (channel 489) and DirecTV (channel 620) as part of the carriers' premium sports packages.
Sporting KC will return to league play on Saturday when it hosts D.C. United (11-7-3, 36 points) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.