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Exorcised? Sporting Kansas City dispatch Tulsa Athletic in US Open Cup

Sporting Kansas City dominated Tulsa Athletic 3-0 in Kansas City Tuesday night to advance to the Round of 32 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.



Credit: Sporting Kansas City

For the first time in their Open Cup history, Sporting Kansas City entered the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup ahead of the Round of 32 Tuesday evening, hosting Tulsa Athletic of the National Premier Soccer League (4th tier) at Children’s Mercy Park. And for the first time in 2023, Kansas City came away with a victory. Goals from Daniel Salloi, Alan Pulido, and Marinos Tzionis, along with an appearance by attacking midfielder Gadi Kinda provided not only the win, but reason to believe demons may have been exorcised.

For their part, Tulsa Athletic, winners of two 1-0 matches in the tournament, was facing an MLS team for the first time in their history.

Rotation was expected for Sporting Kansas City past Saturday’s loss at New England Revolution and ahead of Saturday’s match at home against CF Montreal. Though an Open Cup win would provide a boost for the side, getting their first win in league play this season on the weekend would provide at least a lifeline in Sporting’s 2023 campaign.

Manager Peter Vermes put out the following Starting Eleven:

The headline catcher was the presence of attacking midfielder Gadi Kinda in the Kansas City lineup for the first time since November 28, 2021, when Sporting was eliminated from the MLS playoffs. And Jake Davis’s appearance at right back was a take-note type of moment.

Sporting arrived in the midst of an offensive quagmire of only three goals in nine league matches. In a cup match, jumping on top is often key, keeping the underdog in check. Would Kansas City’s attack ignite with a fair number of regulars getting the nod?

Early touches by Kinda brought possibility and a warm recollection of skills that have been missing for the hosts. Yet, it was Marinos Tzionis playing a ball across the box in the 8th minute for Alan Pulido that could have been the opener. However, the striker was well-hassled and unable to reach the ball.

All Tulsa needed was a break early to make it a match. They got it in the 17th minute. Jordan Watson broke in behind Sporting’s defense, drawing out goalkeeper John Pulskamp. Pulskamp went down, taking Watson with him and gaining referee Jose Lara’s call for a penalty kick. Christopher Taylor stepped up to take the chance; however, Pulskamp read the shot and denied Tulsa the initial lead.

Kinda, likely due to a plan for only a 30-minute run out, came off for Sporting debutant Ethan Bryant in the 30th. Byrant was a call-up from Sporting KC II just days before.

Sporting finally broke the ice after eleven crosses and a few half chances in the 33rd minute.  Left winger Daniel Salloi added to his Sporting best U.S. Open Cup total with his eighth goal in the competition. The homegrown won the ball near the edge of Tulsa’s box, cut centrally, and swung for goal, eking it just past Tulsa goalkeeper Bryson Reed at the near post.

Sporting began the second half sprightly with quicker ball movement and higher intensity. Two early chances went wanting via a defensive block and a Salloi getting wrong footed on what would have been an easy goal.

At this stage, one goal for either side would change the match.

Sporting would take command in the 54th minute. Gaining entry on the left wing, deep in Tulsa’s box. Salloi hit a precise left-footed cross to pick out a sliding Pulido at the back post. The striker, in his 5th match off return from an extended injury, knocked in the pass to get on the score sheet for the first time on the year.

Pulido would leave the match six minutes later, as would Salloi and Remi Walter, for Erik Thommy, Sebastian Cruz, and Roger Espinoza respectively.

Thommy introduced himself to the match a few minutes later with a dipping free kick that rattled the post of bemused Tulsa Goalkeeper Reed.

Thommy turned provider in the 69th as he split two defenders into space for Tzionis on the left. The Cypriot cut towards goal and unleashed a roller that beat Reed near post and extended Sporting’s lead to 3-0.

Thommy and Tzionis connected four minutes later, but Tzionis’ drive from the middle of the box was saved off the line by a Tulsa Athletic defender.

Left back Robert Voloder was replaced by Mo Abualandi in the 80th minute to complete Kansas City’s substitutions on the night.

During a run that includes an active 13-match home unbeaten streak since 2015, Sporting have now come out on top in 25 U.S. Open Cup matches since 2012, more than any other team in American soccer. Sporting will find out their Round of 32 opponent during Thursday’s drawing.

The hope now is for a confidence boost and a continuation of effective attacking soccer on the weekend as Sporting look for their first league win. Run Devil Run.

Run Devil Run – YouTube



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