Turns out, Orlando City SC didn’t need any loaned players to knock off its MLS affiliate, Sporting Kansas City, during the fourth round of the centennial Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at Sporting Park.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
“It’s devastating,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said.
Orlando City SC, the most dominant team in USL Pro during the last three season, struck less than 2 minutes into its match with 2012 Open Cup champion Sporting KC, and that wound up being enough in a 1-0 victory.
“They played well in the first half,” Vermes said. “I thought they had more of the game in the first half. The goal was a terrible mistake on our part.”
Lions midfielder Adama Mbengue, who trained some with Sporting KC during the preseason, stepped in on a hastily taken restart deep in Orlando City’s attacking end.
Mbengue alertly booted the ball forward to unmarked striker Long Tan, who rolled a shot across goal to the left post — just ahead of sliding centerback Aurelien Collin’s tackle and just out of the reach of Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.
The goal less than 75 seconds after the opening whistle stunned the announced crowd of 15,981.
“It settles you down,” Orlando City coach Adrian Heath said of the early goal. “…We honestly believed before the game that we would get a result. For the people who were here last year, we proved that we’re a decent team and I think we’re a better team this year.”
Sporting KC, which knocked off the Lions 3-2 during the third round a year ago early in its march to the championship, controlled possession for much of the remaining 88 minutes, but finished with nothing to show for it.
“Disappointing’s probably the best word for it,” left back Seth Sinovic said. “We had a great opportunity at home and another unbelievable crowd, especially for an Open Cup game, but we just couldn’t get it done. … We know what it feels like to win this thing and we all desperately wanted to do it again, so it’s disappointing to go out and we’re disappointed to let down our home fans again.”
Sporting KC, which signed a two-year affiliate agreement with Orlando City of USL Pro in January, outshot the Lions 18-5, including an 11-2 edge at halftime.
Kronberg kept Sporting KC within striking distance when he stonewalled Tan in a one-one-one situation during the 33rd minute.
Dashing to the top of the penalty area as the Lions’ odd-man break developed, Kronberg smothered the ball as it came off the Lions striker’s foot.
Meanwhile, Sinovic proved to be the most dangerous player for Sporting KC much of the time.
He tried a shot from the top of the box, which halftime substitute C.J. Sapong redirected toward the left post in the 59th minute, but Miguel Gallardo preserved the shutout with a diving reflex save to his right.
Four minutes later, Sinovic debuted his David Beckham impression, bending a crisp 25-foot shot across the face of goal and toward the upper right corner, but it dipped a fraction of a second too late and went over the crossbar.
In between, Gallardo palmed a 20-yard blast by midfielder Paulo Nagamura over the bar.
Sapong also had a great look at an equalizer off a diagonal from Jacob Peterson in the 68th minute, but his blast sailed over the bar.
During the dying minutes, Ike Opara came within inches of tying the game with a slide at the far post, but — as was the case all night — that sorely needed goal wasn’t meant to be.
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