Gerso Fernandes of Sporting KC put the game away with a goal in second half stoppage time in a 2-0 Round of 16 win over Houston Dynamo. Photo: Sporting KC
Scoring chances were hard to come by, but Sporting Kansas City’s Ike Opara scored off a second-half corner kick to provide all of the scoring his side needed in a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup Round of 16 on a muggy early evening Wednesday in south Texas.
Kansas City added a second goal in stoppage time to knock Houston out of the Cup for the second time in three years. Sporting also avenged last year’s 3-1 loss to Houston in the same stage of the competition.
Kansas City, a three-time Open Cup champion, will host defending champion FC Dallas in the Quarterfinals on July 11.
Sporting fielded the more experienced side, with many of its regular starters, while Houston coach Wilmer Cabrera opted to start two players from USL affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC. A third came off the bench in the second half after Kansas City took the lead.
The young Dynamo side held its own, as both teams struggled to create chances.
The heat likely was a factor. The game kicked off at 5:30 p.m. local time, when the temperature was 88 degrees, because of a previously scheduled NWSL game.
Houston’s Alex managed two dangerous shots from distance after about 15 minutes of play, but both sailed high over Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia’s net.
The Dynamo missed out on another chance in the 19th minute when winger Andrew Wenger played a teasing ball across the 6-yard box, but none of his teammates could direct it toward goal. Kansas City’s best first-half chance came in the 38th minute when midfielder Jimmy Medranda powered a shot on goal after forward Cameron Porter failed to connect on an acrobatic attempt. Medranda’s attempt was blocked and Porter was unable to put the rebound on frame. Melia kept the game scoreless in the 48th minute after a turnover from a poor pass created a quick 3-on-1 break for Houston. He denied Dynamo forward Vincente Sanchez’s shot at taking the lead.
Kansas City broke through in the 61st minute when Opara headed home the ball off a corner kick. The ball was played long, allowing defender Kevin Ellis to head the ball back toward Opara. For Opara, it was his second Open Cup goal in as many games.
The Dynamo appeared to draw a penalty kick about two minutes later when Memo Rodriguez went down after a challenge by Kansas City defender Saad Abdul-Salaam, but the Houston attacker instead was shown a yellow card for diving.
Kansas City managed to hold the Dynamo at bay for the remainder of the match, springing Latif Blessing for a late counterattack.
Blessing carried the ball down the left side, then cut inside past a defender and passed to a streaking Gerso in the box. Gerso calmly slotted the ball past Willis to secure the win for Sporting KC.
It was Gerso’s team-leading eighth goal of the season and second in the Open Cup.