Kansas City (September 19th, 2017)- The US Open Cup Final pits two original franchises against each other. Sporting KC’s core are trying to cement their legacy with another trophy on Wednesday night. New York? Well, they’re trying to create theirs. One of them has a history of winning trophies, especially in the last six years. The other has a history of choking in the moment that matters most. We’ll break down and preview the 104th US Open Cup Final for both Sporting KC and New York Red Bulls.
2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final: Preview and Prediction
How They Got Here
1-0 vs. NYCFC, 1-1 (5-4 on PK’s) vs. Philadelphia, 1-0 vs. New England Revolution, 3-2 (aET) vs. FC Cincinnati
The only trophy they’ve ever won is the Supporter’s Shield. For a club with 20+ years of history, there has to be some heavy motivation for them to actually win a trophy. Fans are clamoring for that chance to lift a trophy. The core group of Sacha Klejistan, Bradley Wright-Phillips, and Luis Robles have led them to playing their best soccer, and have had their most success in club history. But it’s always been a story of falling short when the lights shine brightest.
You can start in the 2003 final, where they lost to the Chicago Fire. In MLS Postseason play it gets even worse. They never made the final as their original Metro-Stars version, and finally did in 2008, where Guillermo Barros-Schelotto destroyed them in the final. They’ve only missed the playoffs four times in their 22 year history and have only made the final once. BWP, Klejistan, and co. understand the pressure. They know what’s on the line. The question is whether or not they can do it, especially on the road, against an opponent built for a one game playoff.
If you would like a red-bulls centered preview, check out an article posted earlier today.
How They Got Here
As Sporting KC Captain, Matt Besler put best, it’s another chance to “Paint the Wall.” Painting the wall is in reference to their tradition of winning a trophy, and then painting on the year they won on their “wall of history” next to the Cauldron. Sporting KC have the chance to win their third US Open Cup, and fourth trophy since 2012. The core that’s been there for it all? Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Graham Zusi, and Peter Vermes at the helm. This is a chance to further engrain their legacy into club history.
Sporting KC are likely going to be on the front-foot. They won’t make an whole-sale changes, and same with New York Red Bulls. New York will likely try to high press Sporting KC. Going back to something Vermes really got onto his players for at the beginning of the season, was not playing quick enough to avoid the high-press. New York and Seattle both attempted to do that, and when Sporting KC picked up the pace on them, they got punished.
If Sporting can play fast enough, they’ll be able to deal with that NYRB high press. Sporting have two of the quickest wingers, and their ability to break guys down 1v1 is usually underestimated. Sporting KC will try their best to spread out that five man back line of NYRB through their wide play. Their ability to move the ball quickly when that happens will be the key to the getting good chances. When Sporting KC have scored a goal this year, they haven’t lost.
New York is going to have to rely on their ability to press the Sporting KC midfield, then act quickly in transition. Of the teams who have beaten Sporting KC this year, that’s the only way they’ve been able to get it done. That’s what it is going to take for New York Red Bulls to get a victory at Children’s Mercy Park: Resolute defense, and springing when the opportunity presents itself.
I said it in the Podcast, that I expect Sporting KC to win 3-1. They’re at home, and a much better team than what RBNY has faced this year. RBNY haven’t been in the greatest form lately, and Sporting KC are trending in the opposite direction. It’s just incredibly hard to bet against Sporting KC, at home, in a cup final. They’re built for this type of game and I expect nothing less than a victory and another “paint the wall moment”.