Sporting KC pivot to US Open Cup with dreams of repeating 2015 trophy run

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Sporting Kansas City don’t have any time to spare fretting over the points that got away, not with their first true must-win match of the season looming.

Sporting have a midweek home date with Minnesota United in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, a competition they most recently won in 2015, and they’re anxious to get to it.

“I think just the fact that we have a game gets us focused right away,” left back Seth Sinovic told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday, after a late giveaway let the Montreal Impact pull out a 1-1 draw at Children’s Mercy Park. “We don’t have that whole week of preparation, so we know we’ve got to be prepared from the start of the week and get ready for Wednesday.”

The one-and-done aspect of Wednesday’s competition matters less, Sinovic said, than Sporting’s desire to win at home, where they’ve lost only one match across all competitions since last May.

“I think we go into every game looking to win it,” he said. “You kind of have to, whether it’s Open Cup or MLS play.”

Sporting are 1-1 against the Loons in league competition this year, most recently handing them a 3-0 setback on June 3, also at Children’s Mercy Park. They have met twice in Open Cup play when the Loons were in the North American Soccer League, winning both of those encounters.

With the usual roster shuffles that go on between MLS and Open Cup play, though, Sporting aren’t expecting a quick repeat of the most recent result – or thinking about who the Loons might suit up for Wednesday’s fourth-round match.

“We need to focus on ourselves,” defender Ike Opara said. “If we worry about ourselves, I like our chances.”

Manager Peter Vermes isn’t saying who might take the pitch for his side, especially with four players – fullbacks Graham Zusi and Tyler Pasher, center back Matt Besler and forward Soony Saad – coming off international duty on a short turnaround.

“We’ll wait to see what happens after [Sunday],” he said, “and we’ll go from there.”

No matter who starts and is in the 18, Sporting will have to be more careful with the ball than they were on Saturday, when Soni Mustivar’s bad back pass led to the equalizer and several other giveaways led to counterattacking opportunities for the Impact.

“We’ve been playing really well this year,” Opara said. “We know at times it’s not always going to be perfect. That being said, I would like to think that this is a one-off, that this is not a trend. So we’ll correct it this coming week, and hopefully get back to what we were doing.”

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