5 Things To Know About Sporting Kansas City
Get excited Sacramento Republic fans, the biggest match in club history takes place on Wednesday, July 27, when the Quails host the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinals against MLS side Sporting Kansas City.
Tickets have already sold out for the big event; but before we get to the opening whistle, here’s a look at the Republic’s opponents and their success with the Open Cup.
1. Club Origins
Founded in 1995 by Lamar Hunt, SKC was originally named the Kansas City Wizards, playing their first match on April 13, 1996, defeating the Colorado Rapids at Arrowhead Stadium, 3–0. The club then rebranded to Sporting Kansas City in 2010 as the MLS adopted more European-style names, such as Toronto FC, D.C. United, and Real Salt Lake.
The franchise has won the MLS Cup twice (2000, 2013), the Supporters’ Shield in 2000, and the U.S. Open Cup four times in its existence (2004, 2012, 2015 and 2017).
Some of the most notable Wizards in recent history are former U.S. internationals Matt Besler and Benny Feilhaber, and current club legends Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza.
2. Open Cup Success
Kansas City has won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup four times since its inaugural season, tied with Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders as the only MLS sides to do so. The Wizards last won the cup in 2017, defeating New York Red Bulls 2-1, their third open cup title in six seasons.
The victory extended head coach Peter Vermes’ record to 4–0 in cup finals and championship games with the club. Now making an appearance in the final stages once again, the Republic will need to be even more cautious of the perennial cup foe.
3. Bottom Dwellers of The West
SKC have had a tough go of things this season in the MLS, currently sitting at the bottom of the table in the Western Conference with 20 points through 22 matches played. The only clubs with fewer points are Toronto FC and D.C. United of the Eastern Conference with 19 and 18 points, respectively.
Losing 12 of the 22, the Wizards are -19 on goal differential in 2022, conceding 38 goals on league play. The club has one win in its’ last five matches, losing 3-0 to Real Salt Lake most recently.
4. Missing Key Players
Part of the reason for the losses is the fact that SKC has had a slew of key players hit with the injury bug this season. Specifically, Mexican striker Alan Pulido, having missed the entire 2022 season due to knee surgery. Afforded three designated players on an MLS roster, the Wizards have been without their number nine and the results show for it.
Only a few players missed the last match against Salt Lake as midfielders Ozzie Cisneros and Gadi Kinda, goalkeeper Tim Melia, and Zusi were out due to injury. With the team scheduled to play the best side in the league, Los Angeles FC, Saturday at home, the Republic might get lucky with a few tired legs heading into the open cup tie.
5. European Attack Force
Regardless, Kansas City still posses a competent strike force of European talent, with SKC staple Johnny Russell leading the charge.
Joining the club in 2018, Russell leads the Wizards with six goals in the MLS, while sporting a 72.9% accurate pass rating. The Scotsman has scored 47 goals and 24 assists in his four and a half seasons in Kansas City.
Alongside Russell, Dániel Sallói is a potent attacker on the left wing, scoring four goals and one assist on the season. A Hungarian international, Sallói is a homegrown player for the Wizards after initially joining the U18 academy team in 2014, coming to America as a foreign exchange student. The player would go back to his former club, Újpest FC, in 2015 before returning to Sporting a year later.
Throughout 130 appearances for the club, Sallói has scored 35 goals on the wing or in the striker spot for the Wizards.
The U.S. Open Cup Semifinal between Republic FC and Sporting Kansas City on July 27 will be the first-ever contest between the two clubs. The match kicks off from Heart Health Park at 7:30 pm local time.