USOC: Rapids eye win over familiar foe Sporting KC

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – After going five years without a win in US Open Cup play, the Colorado Rapids will seek their second US Open Cup win in a week on Tuesday when they travel to Sporting Kansas City (8:30 pm ET).

The Rapids broke their streak in last week’s 3-1 win at NASL side Tampa Bay, setting up the match against a side that's turning into a bit of a rival.

Colorado and SKC will be butting heads for the second time in two and a half weeks. On May 19 in Commerce City, two Teal Bunbury strikes had Sporting up 2-0 in the first 15 minutes only for the hosts to storm back in the second half and collect a share of the points in a 2-2 draw.

Since that game, the Rapids have won both their matches – a 3-2 win over Montreal and the 3-1 win in Tampa Bay.

HIGHLIGHTS: COL 2, SKC 2

“We’re very proud of them because it was humid, [and] the field was not great,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday of the Rapids’ victory last week in Tampa Bay. “But the players came with a great attitude and character that they had been showing the last [few] games, and they put everything in there and we dealt with those adversities and we found a way to get the result.”

The Rapids will still likely be without injured regular starters Omar Cummings, Conor Casey, Pablo Mastroeni, Brian Mullan and Marvell Wynne, but despite the injuries, Pareja will try to use the his side’s recent meeting with Kansas City as a learning lesson.

“We didn’t start sharp but after we played well and we started to score goals,” Pareja said. “So somehow we’re trying to get all the experience that we got during that game and get our performance better. We are trying to take advantage of the fact that we played them already and that we can see some things that we can [improve].”

Tuesday’s match will mark the fourth time Sporting Kansas City and the Rapids have met in the last eight months, with Kansas City victorious in the first two matches. Both of those wins came in last season’s Eastern Conference semi-final, and the Rapids are looking forward to the opportunity of redemption.

“When you have two MLS teams going at each other it becomes a very important game and I hope both teams play a strong lineup,” said Rapids defender Drew Moor, who will be one of several first-team players expected to make the trip to Kansas City. “We know a lot about them from the past eight or nine months and they know a lot about us. They’re a very, very difficult team to break down.”

After a run of unfortunate US Open Cup draws of late, the tide may be beginning to sway in the Rapids’ favor. With a win Tuesday night, Colorado would play at home against either the USL Pro’s Dayton Dutch Lions or the PDL’s Michigan Bucks in the quarterfinals June 26th.

But not only does Tuesday’s game present a chance for the Rapids to keep advancing in Cup play, it also gives Pareja an opportunity to continue to spread his message of victory at all costs in every match to his players.

“Obviously the league is priority, but the Open Cup is equal[ly important] and we are taking it very seriously,” Pareja added. “I think it is a cultural thing we are trying to develop here at the club, trying to fight for everything, and the Open Cup is one of those.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.