Sporting KC advances in over Houston in US Open Cup

Sporting KC. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Sporting KC. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /

Sporting KC continues to play well in their 2017 campaign as they beat the Houston Dynamo in their second match of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

The standards were set pretty hard for Sporting KC in 2017. The team expected to return, not just to the playoffs, but to the top of the league. So far, they are doing just that. That includes in tournament play. Last night, SKC beat a very good Houston Dynamo squad to advance in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

This was absolutely a big win for Sporting KC. Not only do they advance in the US Open Cup, but they did so against one of the best teams in MLS. Sporting has been riding a wave of momentum recently, and this should add to that.

The US Open Cup doesn’t count towards regular season standings, and has no real bearing on the 2017 season. However, in soccer, tournaments are nearly every bit as important as championships. That’s one of the things that separates it from every other major sport played in the US.

Winning the US Open Cup would be a huge feather in the cap for Sporting KC. We can certainly see that by how the team is playing on the pitch. So far in the tournament, Sporting has scored six goals and surrendered none in two games. That is a pretty impressive performance, especially considering their most recent opponent.

Ike Opara Emerging As Offensive Threat

One of the men that is making Sporting KC a tough opponent here recently is center back Ike Opara. The big defender has always been a reliable presence in the defensive half, but now he’s also becoming a scoring threat. Opara has three goals in the last four games. That’s enough to make him the third leading scorer on the team.

Sporting hasn’t been much of a scoring team this year, so getting that kind of offensive production from a defender is huge. Opara’s ability to come up and be a threat in the box adds a whole new wrinkle to the SKC offense. Opponents will now have to account for him every time there is a ball played in.

Keep The Momentum Going

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The biggest thing for Sporting KC now is to not let up. Two of their next three games come against top Western Conference opponents, Portland and Dallas. It would not be inaccurate to say that SKC could put a stranglehold on the conference by winning both matches.

They will need some more scoring however. While Sporting KC has been one of the top defensive clubs in the league this year, they simply aren’t getting enough offense. Ike Opara has helped recently, but only Gerso Fernandes can really be called a reliable scorer right now. Dom Dwyer was expected to be a top attacker, but he’s struggled some this year.

There is still plenty of time left in the season for Sporting KC to sort out their offense. However, they need to get it going before too much longer. Having a great defense is certainly a valuable weapon in soccer, but you need to be able to score regularly as well.

So far it has been a very good season for Sporting KC. They are sitting atop the Western Conference and have advanced to the round of eight in the US Open Cup. However, there is still a ways to go and this team has very high expectations right now. Hopefully they can keep this pace up.