An incident that took place in the 67th minute of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup quarterfinal match between Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo is under review by the Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel, according to US Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe.
The resulting outcome of that review could signal punishment for Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza who appears to have thrown a punch at Houston’s captain Brad Davis seconds before Sporting executed a free kick. Referee Ted Unkel officiated the match but had his back turned to the incident.
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The punch highlighted a physical match between the two long-time rivals which also saw a Houston Dynamo red card in the 30th minute and five yellow cards including one each to Espinoza and Davis.
Those cautions occurred just after the punch as Dynamo players commanded the attention of Unkel who, having not seen the punch, issued verbal warnings to both players for arguing. When the two resumed heated discussions after Unkel walked away, the official returned to hand out yellows to Espinoza and Davis and put an end to the conversation.
Had Unkel viewed the punch, it’s very possible that Sporting Kansas City would have suffered a red card ejection and went down to ten men, just as Houston did. The incident occurred with Houston leading 1-0. Kansas City would ultimately rally late to win 3-1 and advance to their first Semifinal since 2012.
Espinoza, a Honduran international, is best known for being the only player in soccer history to win the US Open Cup (Sporting KC, 2012) and the FA Cup (Wigan Athletic in 2012/13) in consecutive seasons.
Should the Discipline Panel rule that Espinoza is warranted a suspension, the midfielder would likely miss, at a minimum, the Semifinal against Real Salt Lake to be hosted in Kansas City on August 12th.