Daniel Salloi of Sporting Kansas City celebrates one of his two goals against FC Dallas in the Fifth Round of the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Sporting KC
Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi has been named the TheCup.us Player of the Round for the Fifth Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Salloi started in his team’s 3-2 win over FC Dallas and played 85 minutes, scoring twice, before making way for Yohan Croizet.
Orlando City SC goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr., Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic and Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi were second, third and fourth, respectively, in the voting. Even Croizet’s five minutes of game action that produced a game-winner that is one of the best goals of the tournament received consideration.
The award is voted on by the staff of TheCup.us and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters.
Salloi equalized the match in the 43rd minute. After the club had hit the woodwork twice in quick succession, the ball got played out to Graham Zusi about 35 yards away from goal. Zusi played an inch-perfect cross in to Ike Opara at the back post, who headed the ball across the goal mouth. It appeared it might have been going in anyway, but Salloi made absolutely sure and tucked it in the back of the net.
Salloi then gave the club the lead in the 66th minute. After Johnny Russell intercepted a poor pass from a Dallas defender, he gave it to defender Jaylin Lindsey. Lindsey fed it to Wan Kuzain, who dribbled through three Dallas players before giving it to Salloi. Salloi buried it in the lower right corner past goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez to put his side up 2-1. Dallas would equalize again before Croizet’s spectacular volley would win it.
The 21-year-old Salloi, a Hungarian international, signed a Homegrown Player contract with Sporting Kansas City on January 13, 2016. His first exposure to manager Peter Vermes and the Sporting KC style of play came at the club’s academy, while Salloi was an AFS exchange student during the 2014-15 school year.
Salloi did not feature in the 2016 tournament, as he spent the last six months of that year on loan back in his native Hungary. He scored three goals during the 2017 tournament, including the game-winner in the 2-1 win against the New York Red Bulls in the US Open Cup Final.
Vermes credits the progress Salloi’s made at the club to his attitude.
“I would go all the way back to when he started here in the Academy,” Vermes said during the post-game press conference after the league match against Houston on Saturday. “He’s had a very good progression. He’s had some really good learning moments that maybe weren’t the easiest for him. And at the same time, and I say this to him all the time now, that the reason why he is doing as well as he is or why he is in good form, or why he is getting better from game to game, week to week, is because of his attitude. You know there’s so much you can do when you have a good attitude with anything you do in life. And he has the right attitude at the moment, and if he keeps that, his trajectory is straight up.”
Opara said Salloi’s brace against Dallas was huge for the club.
“Obviously to tie the game, it gave us momentum going into the half,” Opara said in the locker room. “I don’t know how he gets it off so quickly but that second goal was wonderful. It gave us breathing room to really put them under. We had opportunities for a third goal but an unfortunate mistake led to their goal. We showed our character to finish off the job.”
While Salloi is the first Hungarian to win TheCup.us Player of the Round, he’s not the first to a TheCup.us award. Krisztian Nemeth was named the 2015 TheCup.us Player of the Tournament as he led Sporting Kansas City to the club’s third US Open Cup title. Salloi is the eighth Sporting Kansas City player to ever win a Player of the Round or Player of the Tournament award.
2018 TheCup.us Player of the Round winners
Preliminary Round: Rasmus Hansen (Brooklyn Italians, NPSL)
First Round: Chuka Aruh (Inter Nashville FC, NPSL)
Second Round: Christian Okeke (NTX Rayados, USASA)
Third Round: Allisson Faramilio (FC Golden State Force, PDL)
Fourth Round: Brian Ownby (Louisville City FC, USL)
Fifth Round: Daniel Salloi (Sporting Kansas City, MLS)