Sporting Kansas City exited the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night, falling 4-1 to Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Gerso Fernandes drew Sporting level midway through the first half after Angelo Rodriguez had given Minnesota an early lead, but the Loons received a brace from Darwin Quintero and an Ethan Finlay strike in the second period to advance to the Round of 16.
The result condemns Sporting to their first Round of 32 defeat in the Open Cup since 2000, breaking a streak of nine straight victories at this stage of the heralded knockout-style tournament.
Manager Peter Vermes’ side will now regroup before resuming their MLS regular season campaign on June 23, visiting Columbus Crew SC in a 4:30 p.m. CT kickoff at MAPFRE Stadium. The match will air live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus.
A light shuffling of the Sporting Kansas City lineup saw Vermes make two changes from Friday’s 2-2 draw at Toronto FC. Goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas replaced Tim Melia and left back Seth Sinovic made way for Jimmy Medranda, who hit two notable landmarks on Wednesday. The diminutive Colombian had recovered from a long-term knee injury for his first start since May 20, 2018-which coincidentally came in an MLS match at Minnesota-and in doing so, logged his 100th career appearance for Sporting in all competitions.
The Loons took less than two minutes to draw first blood, striking through Rodriguez following a clever delivery from captain Quintero. Sporting goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas did brilliantly to prevent Minnesota from doubling their advantage four minutes later, diving at full extension to push aside Finlay’s shot on the breakaway.
Sporting gradually gained a foothold as the first half progressed, however, and tested Minnesota gloveman Vito Mannone in the ninth minute when Gerso ran onto Medranda’s feed and pulled the trigger from a tight angle.
Medranda and Gerso would combine again for Sporting’s equalizer in the 27th minute, finishing an incisive attack that unlocked Minnesota’s defense. Felipe Gutierrez’s crafty diagonal ball was pinged back across the face of goal by Medranda, allowing Gerso to fire a bouncing shot past Mannone for his fifth tally of the season in all competitions.
Head coach Adrian Heath’s men nearly produced an instant reply on the half-hour mark, but the hosts were unable to capitalize on an opening through the middle. Collin Martin tried rounding Zendejas inside the penalty area but got the ball stuck under his own feet, then picked out a trailing Rodriguez whose shot deflected wide.
The game got away from Sporting in the second half, as Minnesota surged ahead once more within 45 seconds of the restart. Hassani Dotson set up Finlay for the match-winning goal, putting the visitors back behind the proverbial eight ball.
Mannone thwarted Gutierrez in the 48th minute, sprawling low at the near post, and the Loons extended their cushion seven minutes later when Quintero tucked a shot low into the corner off a Rodriguez square pass.
Frustration mounted for Sporting near the 60-minute mark, as Salloi’s audacious chip shot with his back to goal was touched onto the crossbar by the leaping Mannone before Gerso’s sledgehammer was palmed aside.
Minnesota put the game on ice in the 67th minute as Quintero raced in behind the defense and recorded his seventh goal of the year across all competitions. Salloi almost cut into the three-goal deficit with 10 minutes remaining, but his close-range shot caromed off defender Michael Boxall and inches wide of the frame.