Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sporting KC returns to U.S. Open Cup semifinals

June 27, 2012, 1:26 p.m.

Updated: June 28, 2012, 12:00 a.m.

With a 3-0 victory against the Dayton Dutch Lions on Tuesday, Sporting Kansas City will return to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals for the first time since 2004, getting a chance to avenge a sore loss in the process.

Sporting KC returned to Livestrong Sporting Park on Tuesday to host the USL PRO team, days after a 4-0 defeat against the Philadelphia Union. C.J. Sapong helped Sporting KC return to its winning ways with goals in the fifth and 59th minutes and Graham Zusi’s 56th minute strike helped secure a 3-0 victory.

“We showed good character tonight, responding well to our bad game Saturday,” Sapong said.

Sapong, the 2011 MLS rookie of the year, notched his first multi-goal game on Tuesday. Sporting KC is 9-4-2 and with 29 points is still just one point shy of first place in the Eastern Conference, behind D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls (tied at 30).

Defender Matt Besler returned after 17 days off from appendicitis, saying after the game that he felt good and that his abdomen region where he had his surgery felt fine all night.

In the 18th minute, Besler sent one of the long throws that he is known for, meeting Sapong, who flicked the ball to Lawrence Olum. Olum’s header, however, was quickly cleared away.

Coach Peter Vermes said he thought Besler looked good in limited minutes, making the most of his return before his workload increases. Sporting KC returns to league play at 7 p.m. Friday when it hosts the Chicago Fire (7-5-3). On May 12, the Fire defeated Sporting KC in Chicago, 2-1, during what would be a four-game winless stretch. Sporting KC since recovered and went six matches without a loss before Saturday’s rout in Philadelphia.

If Sporting KC can dispatch the Fire on Friday, it will begin a stretch of redemption against clubs like Montreal (who defeated Sporting KC 2-0 on May 5) and Houston (who kept Sporting KC out of the MLS championship final last year). July 11’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal will send Sporting KC back to Philadelphia (3-8-2), where it left with a sour taste on Saturday.

“We want hardware,” Sapong said. “We want something to show for our hard work and our talent. Tonight we took a step closer to that. Obviously we are very excited to play Philadelphia again. We feel like we owe them something after what happened on Saturday.”


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