Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake | US Open Cup Match Preview
Sporting Kansas City vs.
Real Salt Lake
Wednesday, August 12, 8:30 pm ET
Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake will face off against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday at Sporting Park for a place in the US Open Cup final. And while a healthy level of animosity already exists between the two teams, a chance at another trophy will only ratchet up the intensity further.
Kansas City and RSL have already faced off three times this season, with the Claret and Cobalt prevailing two times and drawing the third against their Western Conference rivals. And it's the first knockout match between the two teams since they faced off for the 2013 MLS Cup, with Sporting taking the title after a memorable 10-round shootout.
There will be no surprises between these two clubs come Wednesday night.
“I think we both know what to expect from the other team,” RSL defender Tony Beltran said. “We’re well rehearsed at playing in big games at their stadium, in front of their crowd. I think it’s going to be a fun, high-level affair.”
RSL are coming off a 4-0 loss to Western Conference leaders the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night in which almost all of their regular starters were absent from the gameday roster – many not even making the trip. The small respite allowed the first team to get some much-needed rest heading into Wednesday’s showdown.
“I fully stand behind the decision to rest the players,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said after practice on Monday. “It’s five games in 15 days with the worst travel in the history of MLS. It’s impossible. You have to be smart. You have to take care of the players.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sporting Kansas City will be getting one of their stars back for Wednesday's semifinal bout of the US Open Cup with Real Salt Lake, but they could be without another one as their substantial injury list grows even longer.
Center forward Dom Dwyer will take fresh legs into the bout after sitting out the weekend's 3-1 win over Toronto FC due to suspension for caution accumulation, and rookie left back Amadou Dia rested all but the last few minutes on Saturday with Jimmy Medranda making an effective – if surprising – start in his place.
But winger Graham Zusi might not be available for the match deemed extremely important by the team, though, after sustaining a calf strain during warmups that made him a late scratch vs. TFC. Vermes said he would make a match-day decision on the Designated Player and US international, who did some training – but not a full session – on Tuesday.
“Obviously, we have a lot of injuries,” Vermes said. “There's no doubt about that piece. But it doesn't change anything. We're still going to try to put the best team out on the field that we possibly can.”
While Zusi could still play a part in the match, Vermes is guaranteed to be without two other veteran midfielders. Roger Espinoza is unavailable due to the left foot injury he recenly picked up and that will sideline him for a total of 8-10 weeks, and Amobi Okugo cannot play since he is cup-tied to Orlando City.