Soccer: United falls to Sporting Kansas City in U.S. Open Cup
KANSAS CITY, Kan.--For 40 minutes, Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath was satisfied with how his reserve-filled lineup fought against Sporting Kansas City's regulars in a fourth-round match of the 104th U.S. Open Cup.
KANSAS CITY, Kan.-For 40 minutes, Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath was satisfied with how his reserve-filled lineup fought against Sporting Kansas City's regulars in a fourth-round match of the 104th U.S. Open Cup.
But separation showed in the final minutes of Wednesday's first half as Kansas City scored a pair of goals before the break and added two more deep in the second half for a 4-0 win at Children's Mercy Park.
"In the end, they were worthy winners, and we looked very, very tired, which considering the lack of matches and the lack of minutes that most of those players had, it was going to happen."
The contrasting levels of importance each club placed on the national tournament was clear when the starting lineups were announced. Sporting Kansas City's starters have played a combined 158 games in Major League Soccer this season, while Minnesota starters carried a total of 60 played in league play in 2017.
Brent Kallman's 12 games were the most for United's lineup, while Sporting had 10 of 11 players appearing in more than 13 games.
Heath made it clear before the trip that the club's goal is to push for the MLS playoffs, and a well-rested bunch of regulars for Saturday's road game at struggling Real Salt Lake was the priority. Also without a United Soccer League affiliate, United took the opportunity to get little-used players much-needed game action.
In Wednesday's 43rd minute, Sporting's corner kick connected with Ike Opara's head - as Kallman was his apparent mark and goalie Patrick McLain came out of net. Opara capitalized on the angles to score.
About three minutes later in stoppage time, Daniel Salloi, the only non-regular in KC's lineup, had a shot rifle off the left post and go straight to Gerso Fernandes, who sank the rebound for a 2-0 lead.
Dom Dwyer beat McLain in the 72nd minute, and Salloi added the fourth goal in the 83rd minute.
Heath selected McLain, the club's third-string goalkeeper, to play the Open Cup match over backup goalie John Alvbage because the club needs to see if McLain can handle the job behind starter Bobby Shuttleworth.
United must make a decision on whether to pick up Alvbage's loan from Swedish club Goteborg by mid-July. If Minnesota retains Alvbage, he would stay through the 2018 season.
McLain, who was part of a preseason trade for coveted midfielder Kevin Molino from Orlando, made his Minnesota debut against Kansas City.
"We've got to see what Patrick's about," Heath said. "We've got decisions to make in June with John. ...
"I thought he did some decent stuff (Wednesday). He made a couple of really good saves early on and his positioning was good. Obviously, he made the mistake for the first goal (Opara's header), but that is something that he basically should have let the defenders deal with."
United defender Joe Greenspan, who made his first appearance for the Loons, left the game in the second half after a collision with Sporting's Roger Espinoza's ribs. Heath said Greenspan went to a hospital, but Heath didn't have a further update late Wednesday. KC's sideline reporter said on the online stream that Greenway's injury concern is to his neck, not particularly a concussion. ... United has lost three straight games to Kansas City in Open Cup in the past four years. The Loons fell 2-1 in stoppage time in Blaine last year and were defeated 2-0 in Kansas in 2014.