Yohan Croizet celebrates his game-winning goal for Sporting Kansas City in the club’s Fifth Round match against FC Dallas in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Sporting KC
For the fourth time in their respective club histories, Sporting Kansas City hosted FC Dallas in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. On Saturday night, Sporting KC defeated FC Dallas for the fourth time in the Open Cup, winning 3-2 in front of 15,238 fans at Children’s Mercy Park.
After Daniel Salloi’s brace gave Sporting a 2-1 lead, Roland Lamah of FC Dallas tied the game in the 77th minute. It appeared as though the match was headed to extra time, but Yohan Croizet, who entered the game to replace Salloi, sent an unstoppable volley into the upper 90 of the goal to send the defending US Open Cup champions into the Quarterfinals for the second year in a row and the third time in the last four years.
The game took a while to get on track as both teams felt each other out. Manager Peter Vermes told the post-game press conference the club wasn’t sure whether Dallas would play a five-man midfield or a 4-4-2. He said they adjusted well to the 4-4-1-1 Dallas ended up in.
Dallas struck first in the 18th minute. Off a throw-in, Maxi Urruti put a ball into the penalty area that Michael Barrios got on the end of. Goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas made the initial save, but the ball rebounded back to Barrios, who put a looping shot back on frame. It initially looked as if the ball was across the line before Carlos Gruezo got a touch on it, but the goal was eventually given to Gruezo, staking Dallas to a 1-0 lead.
After the goal, Sporting KC seemed to get much more of the possession and it paid off. Shortly after having hit the woodwork twice in quick succession, Graham Zusi put a cross into the penalty area from about 30 yards away, finding Ike Opara at the back post. Opara’s header across the goal mouth was tapped in by Salloi from close range to tie the match in the 43rd minute.
After halftime, Sporting continued to take the lion’s share of the possession, taking six of the first seven shots of the second half. That domination led to Salloi’s second goal of the contest. Jaylin Lindsey found Wan Kuzain near the top of the penalty area, who squeezed a ball through two Dallas defenders to Salloi. The Hungarian settled the ball quickly with his left foot and shot with his right, putting the ball past goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez to tie the game.
Combined with his three goals in last year’s tournament, the brace gave Salloi his fifth US Open Cup goal, the most by an active Sporting KC player and second only to Dom Dwyer’s six goals in club history.
In the 77th minute, it was Dallas’s turn to equalize, and the goal came against the run of play. After a poor punch by Zendejas, the ball fell to Roland Lamah. Lamah took one touch, taking the ball to his left. Lamah’s shot then somehow found its way through four Sporting KC players before settling in the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2.
The match seemed destined to follow last year’s route into extra time, but Yohan Croizet had a different idea. After subbing into the match for Salloi in the 85th minute, Croizet had not yet been on the pitch for four minutes when he hit a candidate for goal of the tournament. While trying to clear a ball intercepted from Khiry Shelton, Maynor Figueroa popped the ball up in the air. Croizet waited for the spinning ball to come down and hit it on the half-volley, giving Gonzalez no chance and putting Sporting KC into the Quarterfinals.
After the match, Croizet said, “Seriously, it’s my best goal in my career. In the last minute. I’m really, really happy tonight.” It was the second-latest regulation game-winner in Sporting Kansas City history. The latest game-winner by the club came in the 2006 Third Round when Scott Sealy scored in the 90th minute against the PDL’s Des Moines Menace. “I had the perfect angle,” Opara said. “I saw him winding up. He hit it great with contact. Well, maybe sliced it a little bit, but it was good contact to begin with. The keeper had no chance. That’s a goal that wins a game right there.” Sporting KC will travel to face the winner of Monday’s Minnesota United-Houston Dynamo match in the next round. If Houston wins, the game will take place on July 18. If Minnesota wins, the game will take place at a date still to be determined.