Sporting K.C. Ends Seattle’s Hold on U.S. Open Cup

Sporting Kansas City (seen here pleading with referee Edvin Jurisevic during last season’s game against the Revolution last season on Apr. 23) spent a lot of time appealing to the referee during Wednesday’s cage match of a game against Seattle. (Photo: Chris Aduama/aduama.com)

Sporting K.C. midfielder Paulo Nagamura converted a controversial second chance at his club’s final penalty to help break Seattle’s three-year grip on the U.S. Open Cup win a 1-1 win (3-2 on penalties) in Wednesday’s final at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

Nagamura, whose first attempt was stopped by Michael Gspurning on the right post, was handed a do-over by the referee after it was ruled that Seattle’s keeper came off his line early. On the second try, Nagamura buried it left while Eddie Johnson’s subsequent effort sailed over the bar to seal Sporting K.C.’s first U.S. Open Cup championship since 2004.

In a game that resembled a heavyweight title match, K.C. and Seattle traded jabs and jocked for position before Kei Kamara finally found the opening goal in the 82nd minute goal via the penalty. Seattle defender Zach Scott responded in the 86th minute to send the game into a scoreless overtime.

Seattle earned five yellow cards – including two from Patrick Ianni, who was ejected in the 119th minute upon receipt of his second. But even though Seattle (19 fouls) weren’t afraid to duke it out on Wednesday, Kansas City (16 fouls) wasn’t completely innocent themselves.

Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso wasted no time setting the tone early when he upended Kamara in the fourth minute and earned the first caution of the game.

In between the pushing, shoving and clawing, opportunities opened up as the first frame progressed. Just beyond the midway mark of the first half, Kamara ripped a long distance shot that banked off the bar, as K.C. signaled it was ready to bulge the back of the net.

Seattle field a reply in the 30th minute when Mauro Rosales launched a corner kick that found Eddie Johnson, who headed it hard on frame before Jimmy Nielsen scrambled to stop it.

Five minutes after Nielsen’s dramatic save, former Revolution left back Seth Sinovic advanced into the attacking third and met the outside of the net as celebratory confetti was prematurely tossed onto pitch.

On the edge of halftime, Roger Espinoza tried to grab a lead before the trek to the dressing room when he unleashed a hard shot that Gspurning cooly pushed away right on the doorstep.

While the physical battles ensued in the second half, K.C. eventually found a way to get on the board. In the 82nd minute, Teal Bunbury crossed it into the area, where the ball deflected off the arm of Patrick Ianni and a penalty was called. Two minutes later, Kamara pounded it inside the right post for the lead.

But Kamara’s goal wouldn’t hold up for long. Four minutes later, Rosales threaded a free kick into the area, where Scott nodded it through to level it in the 86th minute.

In stoppage time, Paulo Nagamura rifled a shot that Gspurning stopped. K.C. spent much of overtime pressuring the Seattle backline before penalties were introduced. After both clubs converted their first opportunities, Espinoza and Graham Zusi missed on K.C.’s 2nd and 4th attempts.

But Alonso and Christian Tiffert also failed on back-to-back efforts, setting the stage for a bloodied Nagamura, who sustained a sizable gash on his left cheek early in the opening minutes, to don the hero’s cape while Johnson was doomed to the role of the goat.

With the Lamar Hunt Trophy in their possession, Sporting K.C. earns a berth to the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League tournament.

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He's contributed to The Associated Press, The Canadian Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or e-mail him at BOConnell21@aol.com