Richmond Kickers coach Leigh Cowlishaw Photo: Pattie Anderson
The Richmond Kickers continued their Cinderella run through the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-0 upset of Sporting Kansas City at LiveStrong Sporting Park. After a lengthy lightning delay sent the players into the locker rooms at the 66th minute, once they emerged, Shaka Bangura scored less than 30 seconds after play re-started to give the Kickers the lead. David Bulow would add a history-making penalty kick in the 83rd minute to seal the deal.
Richmond becomes only the second 3rd Division team to reach the Semifinals. The only other team to do it was the San Francisco Bay Seals in 1997. There they will face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Aug. 30 with a spot in the Open Cup Final on the line.
“We’ve only got about 15 healthy players on our roster that just played 3 games in 5 days,” said Richmond head coach Leigh Cowlishaw after the match. “We played in a great stadium with most of their starters — it wasn’t a reserve team — and it was their first defeat in the stadium. To do all that is just a statement about what this squad is all about. I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
Bulow’s goal gives him a tournament-high six tallies and puts him on top of the Professional Era’s goalscoring chart with 14 in his career. He passes Jaime Moreno and Johnny Menyongar who each have 13.
One historical record they can keep to themselves is they are the first lower division team to win back-to-back road games against MLS opponents.
The match started with a rather surprising announcement, when Richmond’s Matthew Delicate and Bulow were both not in the starting lineup. Two of the top goalscorers in Open Cup history were on the bench with Delicate suffering a hamstring injury in last Friday’s league game at Charlotte and Bulow needing rest after coming off the bench on Friday and playing the full 90 minutes in the team’s 2-1 win over Charlotte at home on Saturday.
Without two of their top scorers, the Kickers played solid defense for the first half, limiting Sporting’s chances despite controlling much of the play.
In the 23rd minute, Kansas City hit the post on an attempt from Scott Lorenz, but that would be their best opportunity. The Kickers nearly took the lead before the break when a long throw-in from Ryan Heins on the right wing found its way into the box and fell to David Hertel who fired his shot wide of the target in the 41st minute.
Kei Kamara made am impressive bicycle kick attempt in stoppage time on a cross from Chance Myers on the right wing, but the ball would be launched into the stands as the teams went into halftime.
Kansas City continued to pile on the pressure in the second half, when Milos Stojcev crossed the ball over to Teal Bunbury on the left wing, who found himself with space and only Kickers’ goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale to beat at a tough angle. Bunbury tried to beat Pascale high and sent the ball sailing over the bar in the 54th minute.
In the 66th minute, lightning struck, and the heavens opened up as the players retreated into the dressing rooms for a delay that lasted nearly 90 minutes.
“We just looked at it as a 25-minute game,” said Cowlishaw, who was a player when the Kickers upset a handful of professional teams and won the 1995 US Open Cup title. “It was tough because the players had a lot of things on their mind, but we made two subs, changed the formation and it paid off.”
The match resumed and just seconds later, Heins sent a long ball up the middle of the field to Bulow, who created just enough space between him and his defender to track the ball down and to play into the middle of the penalty area. Bangura was there to run onto the ball as KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg raced off his line. Bangura got a foot to it just as Kronberg arrived as the ball deflected off his outstretched hands and into the back of the net.
Kansas City fans barely had time to settle into their soaked seats and the Kickers were up 1-0.
The home team pushed to avoid the upset and producing a few chances, but the all-out attack would cost them. In the 70th minute, Scott Lorenz received the ball down the left side, much like Bunbury’s opportunity earlier, but this time Lorenz fired a shot on frame and Pascale was there to make the save.
Five minutes later, a swinging cross came into the box and Omar Bravo was there to make a diving header attempt but Pascale was, once again, there to make the stop.
All the pressure caught up to Kansas City as the Kickers caught them on the counter-attack. The first chance produced a goal as second half sub Jamel Wallace got in behind the defense and raced into the box from the left wing. He was tackled from behind, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. There, Bulow would make history with his sixth goal of the competition, tying him for the most goals in a single tournament in the Professional Era.
The Kickers pulled off this historic upset 16 years to the day of their first-ever giant killing. In the Quarterfinals of the 1995 US Open Cup, the Kickers, an amateur team in the USISL Premier League (PDL), upset the A-League’s Atlanta Ruckus, led by US National Team defender John Doyle, 2-1. Richmond, led by Leigh Cowlishaw, would defeat two more professional teams on their way to the 1995 Open Cup title. Strangely enough, the first tournament of the Professional Era was actually won by an amateur team.
TheCup.us Match MVP: Ronnie Pascale, Richmond Kickers
Video Highlights (SportingKC.com)
Post-game interview: Peter Vermes (SportingKC.com)
Scoring Summary: RIC — Shaka Bangura (David Bulow) – 66th min. RIC — David Bulow (PK) – 83rd min.
Richmond Kickers – Ronne Pascale, Henry Kalungi, Yomby William, Edson Elcock, Ryan Heins, David Hertel, Michael Callahan (David Bulow 65), Gerson Dos Santos (Luke Vercollone 46), Shaka Bangura, Sascha Goerres, Stanley Nyazamba (Jamal Wallace 65). Substitutes Not Used: Matthew Delicate, Evan Harding, Ross Mackenzie.
Sporting KC – Eric Kronberg, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Scott Lorenz (C.J. Sapong 72), Michael Harrington, Kei Kamara, Luke Sassano (Roger Espinoza 56), Milos Stojcev (Omar Bravo 60), Birahim Diop, Teal Bunbury. Substitutes Not Used: Korede Aiyegbusi, Kevin Ellis, Shavar Thomas, Jon Kempin.
Referee: Mark Kadlecik Referee’s Assistants: George Gansner; Chris Strickland 4th Official: Edvin Jurisevic Time of Game: 3:12 Weather: Partly Cloudy and 97 degrees