The Colombian connection offered a potent punch Wednesday at Allianz Field.
Combining for three of Minnesota’s goals in the 4-1 win, Darwin Quintero and Angelo Rodriguez propelled the Loons to their first victory in four tries against Sporting KC.
“Both of us just try to work harder on understanding each other better,” Rodriguez said. “Fortunately today, it went our way for us and we just want to try to keep playing well, see if we advance in this tournament.”
It was the first regulation Open Cup win for Minnesota United since making their Major League Soccer debut in 2017.
The loss was significant for the four-time champion Sporting Kansas City as it snapped the club’s 13-game opening round unbeaten streak. The last time Kansas City crashed out of the tournament after their first game was in 2003 when they lost to the Colorado Rapids on a John Spencer game-winning goal.
The hot start for the Loons came in the second minute when the forward broke his scoreless drought of 730 minutes. With Quintero knocking him through into empty space, Rodriguez slotted home his fifth goal of the season through the legs of Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas.
Coming out of the locker room level at one after Gerso Fernandes’ volley in the 27th minute, the Loons regained the lead almost immediately from kick off. Hassani Dotson, the 31st overall pick in the MLS expansion draft this year, made the individual effort to keep possession through the midfield. His pass through the Kansas City’s backline found Ethan Finlay ready to put away his fourth career U.S. Open Cup goal.
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) June 13, 2019
“When you’re defending deep in your own half, the first pass is always the most important,” said Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath. “We did that well tonight. It was probably the third pass before the goal, but it was up, back and through and we started to get runners.”
The next 20 minutes saw the Colombian duo link up again, both times with Rodriguez setting up Quintero to put a stamp on United’s win.
Following his sliding effort in the 56th minute to double the Loons’ lead, Quintero had a bit of fun with his last of the evening. After taking the through ball from Rodriguez towards his left, the midfielder dribbled around Zendejas and stopped near the end line, allowing KC defender Graham Smith to slide into his own net. With Smith on the ground, Quintero popped the ball over the defender’s head for the game’s final tally.
The win is just the second for the Loons against Sporting in all competitions. A win in the inaugural MLS meeting between these two teams in 2017 had been the lone victory for Minnesota coming into Wednesday’s match. Before United’s jump to MLS, KC had ousted the Loons in all three Cup ties dating back to 2014 – including a 4-0 drubbing on the way to the 2017 Championship.
“I always take a load of satisfaction if I can take a result again Peter Vermes’ team,” Heath said. “I have enormous respect for him and that club. They’re probably one of the best role models for clubs in the league.”
The Loons will take on the defending US Open Cup champions on the road in the next round on June 18. The winner will host either FC Dallas or New Mexico United (USL Championship).