In front of 14,463 loyal and soaking wet fans at Philadelphia Union’s PPL Park, in a penalty kick shootout, Sporting Kansas City won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the second time in the past 4 years, after a dramatic regulation and overtime led to a 1-1 tie and a blitz of yellow cards, slippery and sloppy tackles, questionable calls and an awkward premature pyrotechnic goal celebration.
“Hearing them cheer right now makes me want to throw up. We had the opportunity to win a final in front of our home crowd and we came up a little short. I won’t hide from that. If anyone wants to pass blame, I’m right here. That falls on me because my players had a great night.” – Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin
Philadelphia’s legend Sébastien Le Toux and Sporting KC’s Krisztián Németh scored during the 1–1 draw during regulation time. Le Toux’s goal, off a Vincent Nogueira diagonal cross, was his 16th in Open Cup play, a record in Open Cup modern history.
Both Kansas City and Philadelphia had chances to score game winners in the second half. Curtin switched goalkeepers at the last minute of extra time, bringing in John McCarthy for Blake capitalizing on McCarthy’s expertise with the penalty kick shootout wins in matches against Rochester and the New York Red Bulls in earlier rounds of the Open Cup.
After two rounds SKC’s Tim Melia made a save on Maurice Edu but John McCarthy heroically responded with a save on Nemeth. Finally, after four more kicks, Andrew Wenger had his weak penalty saved and SKC’s reserve midfielder Jordi Quintillà, followed with a confident tiebreaker, giving SKC the 7–6 win.
SKC, dubbed the PK Kings, have also won the 2012 Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup on penalty kicks, and are heading back home with the prized hardware and a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League next summer.
Meanwhile the hosts are left to mend broken hearts and pick up the pieces of the ‘unfinished business’ dream of salvaging their fourth consecutive disappointing season of missing MLS Playoffs.
“Again, all I can say is sorry for not delivering something that we’ve talked about achieving…It’s elusive for us right now. No fault of my players, they put everything into the game. [They] emptied their tanks for me, it set up alright in terms of the 120 minute mark getting Johnny in there to maybe finish the thing. It just didn’t go our way. Again, credit to KC. A very good team, a team that has a bunch of winners.”
– Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin
So much was at stake for the Union in this Final but it is hard to put any blame on them for their second consecutive US Open Cup silver medal. Last year, Philadelphia lost the Open Cup final to Seattle in overtime. Although a trophy last night would have brought some relief to the lingering questions, after an unstable past, Jim Curtin has brought some resiliency and continuity to the Philadelphia Union, and most fans are against any drastic changes in the coaching staff or roster.
“I can’t stress the importance of sticking together in the midst of something like this. I don’t have the right words for it. It doesn’t feel good now and I know it’s going to hurt more in the coming days. For me, I want us to finish the season with our head’s held high. I say this professionally, we kicked their butts. On a different day, we embarrass Kansas City. Today was there day. There isn’t a man in that locker room who would say something different. Though it hurts now, if we keep the group together, it builds character…I hope this experience defines us in a good way moving forward.” – Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Lahoud
It’s time to move forward Philadelphia.