2017 U.S. Open Cup Final: Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls
Playing out all summer long, we’ve reached the end of the largest soccer tournament in the United States. The tournament began in May with 99 teams qualified for the tournament. After five months of competition, only two Major League Soccer clubs remain. On Wednesday night, the New York Red Bulls visit Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas to face Sporting Kansas City. The Semper Soccer blog has your 2017 U.S. Open Cup Final preview to get you ready for the match.
New York Red Bulls
This year marks the Red Bulls second appearance in an Open Cup final. Their only previews trip to the championship match came in 2003 when they were the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars. That team suffered a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire at Giants Stadium.
New York’s path to the final is littered with clubs most U.S. soccer fans are familiar with. MLS teams enter the tournament in the fourth round so there are plenty of heavyweight matchups. They started their journey in round four with a win over rival New York City FC. The next two rounds saw two more wins over MLS teams as the Red Bulls dispatched the Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution. Finally, they ended the run of lower-division darlings FC Cincinnati in the semi-finals on the road.
On Sunday, head coach Jesse Marsch rested a number of his regular players in preparation for this final. Marsch also announced Monday that backup goalkeeper Ryan Meara would start on Wednesday as he has every game in the tournament so far. Here’s a look at the team could line up with a rested roster in their preferred 5-4-1 formation.
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting KC enters Wednesday’s final as three-time U.S. Open Cup champions. The 2004 Kansas City Wizards defeated the Chicago Fire in a home game at Arrowhead Stadium. In 2012, Sporting Kansas City defeated the Seattle Sounders in a shootout at their new home park on the Kansas side of the border. Then the 2015 squad traveled to PPL Park and won another shootout, this time over the Philadelphia Union.
The 2017 competition has pit SKC against fellow MLS clubs in every round. However, they’ve only had to play one match on the road. They opened in round four with a home win over Minnesota United. Then came their lone road victory against the Houston Dynamo. They returned home and defeated FC Dallas before conquering the San Jose Earthquakes in a semifinal shootout.
Kansas City coach Peter Vermes took a different approach to getting his team ready for Wednesday. Instead of resting, he put the majority of his first-choice players on the field Saturday in a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution. Vermes’s commitment to a high level of fitness means he’d rather have his players in the rhythm of the match instead of resting them. Here’s how the SKC signature 4-3-3 could look for the final.
On one side is the New York Red Bulls who are playing in just their third-ever cup final. Then there’s Sporting Kansas City who is trying to lift the U.S. Open Cup trophy for the third time in five seasons. In addition to the Cup, there’s $250,000 in prize money and a spot in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League on the line. Sporting is built on stout defense but they’ve only recorded one shutout since July 19 in all competitions. New York has shown the ability to put up goals but they’re not lighting up the scoreboard lately. It’s hard to pick against the home team here with a roster full of players who have been there, done that on this very stage. The pick: 2-1, Sporting Kansas City.
How To Watch
When: Wednesday, September 20, 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central
Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes