The 2013 MLS Cup rematch is set. The only thing missing? The four-degree temperature.
Sporting Kansas City, earning its first berth in the US Open Cup Semifinals for the first time since its championship run in 2012, came from behind and used a man-advantage to upend the Houston Dynamo, 3-1. Sporting was trailing 1-0 but an equalizer from Benny Feilhaber in the 71st minute and a pair of late goals from tournament goalscoring leader Dom Dwyer and Krisztian Nemeth sealed the game. The Sporting win sets up a rematch of the December 2013 meeting in the MLS Cup championship, with Real Salt Lake coming to Sporting Park on Aug. 12.
Falling behind in the 59th minute on a cleanup goal from Will Bruin, Sporting rattled off three goals in the final 20 minutes to earn the right to host Real Salt Lake.
Bruin’s goal came while the Dynamo was at a man-disadvantage. After Luis Garrido was sent off in the 30th minute for a studs-up tackle, Ricardo Clark forced a save from Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia off a corner kick and Bruin volleyed home the rebound for his first career Open Cup goal.
Kansas City’s response came from Benny Feilhaber in the 71st minute. Feilhaber received a ball in from Matt Besler, took two touches and whipped a shot from 25 yards out to the far post. His shot from the right edge of the penalty arc curled around Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis’ outstretched arms.
Not to be outdone, the dynamic duo, Krisztian Nemeth and Dom Dwyer, who combined to score all six of Sporting’s goals in the last round against FC Dallas, combined to put the final nails in the coffin. In the 86th minute, Nemeth, receiving the ball in the middle of the attacking third, looked around, saw nobody within 10 yards of him, and first-touch slotted Dwyer through on net.
“When he is the final third, he has an excellent awareness of when he should be the guy to take the shot and when he should make the final pass,” Sporting head coach Peter Vermes said of Nemeth. “I think that’s why he and Dom have linked up so well. The position that he plays, he’s now embraced coming in from the left, which has really helped Dom a lot. He has a very high soccer IQ when it comes to the final third.”
Dwyer’s shot from the left side of the penalty area split Willis’ legs and sent Sporting Park into a frenzy with his a goal in his fifth straight game against Houston – dating back to the 2013 MLS Cup playoffs.
Two minutes later, Dwyer returned the favor. With the lead, Dwyer drove into the middle of the attacking third and found Nemeth open on the left side. From there, the Hungarian struck a shot destined for the upper right corner, but caromed off a Dynamo player and into the middle of the net.
Nemeth and Dwyer have scored eight of Sporting’s ten goals in the Open Cup. In addition, the two lead the team scoring, with Nemeth having 10 in all competitions and Dwyer with 11.
“He’s always trying to look for me, and I’m always trying to look for him,” Dwyer said. “We’re starting to get more of an understanding every single game.”
Dwyer keeps adding to his Open Cup tally. Last round against FC Dallas, he smashed four goals and earned TheCup.Us Player of the Round honors for his effort. This is his fifth tally in the competition this year, while eight goals belong to him overall – three for Sporting’s then-USL affiliate Orlando City SC in 2013. With five goals this year, he leads the tournament in goals scored and combined with the assist tonight, he leads the competition in points with 11.
Kansas City entered the match having missed out on the Quarterfinals of the Open Cup in the past two seasons. The last came in 2012, when the team won its last Open Cup championship.
Sporting’s Open Cup woes do not compare to Houston. The Dynamo ended a 5-game winless streak against MLS teams with last round’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. Houston had not won against an MLS team since 2006, when the Dynamo beat Dallas, 3-2. The Texas squad has yet to make a Semifinal appearance since 2009.
HIGHLIGHTS: HOUSTON DYNAMO AT SPORTING KC
POST-GAME: MATT BESLER
POST-GAME: SONI MUSTIVAR
POST-GAME: PETER VERMES
POST-GAME: BENNY FEILHABER