Sporting Kansas City secured passage to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final with a thrilling 5-4 penalty kick shootout victory over the San Jose Earthquakes following a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night at a raucous Children's Mercy Park.
Danny Hoesen fired San Jose ahead after just four minutes, but Diego Rubio was the recipient of a superb team goal in the 32nd minute to restore parity.
Sporting Kansas City dominated for extended periods throughout the night, but the Earthquakes survived 90 minutes in regulation and an additional 30 minutes of extra time to force a shootout. Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia would prove heroic by saving two penalties, including the game-winning stop on San Jose's Victor Bernardez, to ignite wild celebrations inside the stadium.
Wednesday's pulsating win propels Sporting Kansas City into the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, U.S. Soccer's National Championship, which will take place Sept. 20 at Children's Mercy Park. Manager Peter Vermes' men will await the winner of next Tuesday's semifinal encounter between the New York Red Bulls and FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League.
Tickets for the U.S. Open Cup Final will go on sale Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to Sporting KC Season Ticket Members and the general public via SeatGeek.com. Season Ticket Members will have right of first refusal until next Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 10 a.m. At that time, seats that are not purchased by members will become available to the general public.
The penalty-kick triumph extends Sporting Kansas City's unbeaten streak to 13 matches in all competitions since the start of June, tying an all-time club record first set in 2012. Manager Peter Vermes' men are now set to compete in their third Open Cup final in six seasons, while San Jose's wait for its first-ever Open Cup final appearance will drag on for another year.
Kansas City is a perfect 3-0 all-time in Open Cup finals, having hoisted the trophy in 2004, 2012 and 2015.
With his team just three days removed from a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United FC, Vermes deployed a near full-strength lineup on Wednesday evening. Defender Graham Zusi, midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forward Diego Rubio, all of whom were rested Sunday, retained their starting spots, while Jimmy Medranda filled in for suspended left back Seth Sinovic. Captain Matt Besler notably made his 18th career Open Cup appearance, moving into sole possession of first place on the club's all-time charts.
Sporting Kansas City now faces the sizable task of playing its third game in seven days, as the club will travel to face reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC (9-7-7, 34 points) on Saturday at CenturyLink Field. The Western Conference clash will serve as a rematch of the 2016 Knockout Round playoff encounter that saw Seattle claim a 1-0 home triumph in controversial fashion. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
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