Kansas City Denies Red Bulls in Open Cup Final

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US Open Cup logoThe New York Red Bulls missed their best shot at a cup title in nine years, allowing goals in each half and falling, 2-1, to Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday night.

It was Sporting’s fourth Open Cup crown and sixth major title – not counting its one MLS Supporters’ Shield – while the Red Bulls lost for the third time in as many championship games, twice in the Open Cup and once in the MLS Cup, in 2008. It also was Sporting’s fourth major title in six years: three Open Cups and one MLS Cup.

The victory extended Kansas City’s unbeaten record at home to 21 games, a streak that extends more than a year since a 2-1 loss to Vancouver in the CONCACAF Champions League last September.

Bradley Wright-Phillips gave the Red Bulls hope with a goal in the first-minute of second-half injury time, but on a night of 89-degree heat that required water breaks in both halves, New York was unable to get a second and force extra time.

Latif Blessing in the first half and Daniel Salloi in the second exploited howling defensive lapses, capitalizing on ball-watching moments to the delight of a capacity crowd of 21,523 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kasnas City, Kan.

Kansas City had the first chance, requiring Kemar Lawrence to race across the penalty area to block Gerso Fernandes with a lunging slide tackle, but it was the Red Bulls who had the better early.

Seth Sinovic was cautioned in the fourth minute for a cynical foul at midfield on Tyler Adams, who appeared to breaking away and Wright-Phillips nearly was able to latch on to a ball over the top in the 13th before Tim Melia cleared it away.

Melia also had to punch away Sacha Kljestan’s shot in the 14th and then Adams had a clear, albeit weak, shot in the 21st.

Kansas City had tried to exploit the New York on the counter and finally went ahead 25th. Graham Zusi sent a cross from just outside the right top of the penalty area and the 5-foot-7 Blessing darted between Red Bulls defenders  (6-0) and Aaron Long (6-1) to hit an unmarked header from a step outside the six.

The Red Bulls still had the majority of possession and started the second half well. Twenty-five seconds after kickoff, Wright-Phillips turned from at the top of the 18 and forced Melia into a reaction punch to deny the chance.

Kansas City suffered two injuries that required Coach Peter Vermes to replace Blessing (bruised thigh) in the first half and Fernandes (dislocated left shoulder) in the second. But it added the insurance it needed in the 66th when Salloi, who came in for Blessing in the 43rd, ran between an inattentive Fidel Escobar and Sal Zizzo onto a ball into space from Benny Feilhaber.

Salloi raced in alone against goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who came off his line only to see the 21-year-old Hungarian tip it past him.

Wright-Phillips eventually kept New York from being shut out. Second-half sub Gonzalo Veron hit a hard shot from the top of the 18 that Melia was able to make a diving block. But he gave up a rebound that Wright-Phillips pounced on.

The result extended the Red Bulls winless streak to six, a stretch in which they have scored only five goals. The slump comes after they had won 8 of 9 and scored 25 goals.

The loss also leaves the Red Bulls – who have won the Supporters’ Shield twice — as the only one of the original 10 MLS franchises still playing that has not won either MLS Cup or the Open Cup.