USOC: SKC knock off Union 2-0, book place in final at LSP
CHESTER, Pa. – The road to the 2012 US Open Cup championship will go through Kansas City.
Sporting Kansas City used second-half goals from Jacob Peterson and Graham Zusi to knock off the host Philadelphia Union, 2-0 on Wednesday night at PPL Park in the semifinals of the US Open Cup.
SKC will host the USOC title game on Aug. 8 against Seattle, who advanced past Chivas USA in Wednesday's other semfinal.
Meanwhile, the Union’s run through the historic tournament comes to a disappointing end after wins over the Rochester Rhinos, D.C. United and Harrisburg City Islanders had them sniffing their first trophy in franchise history.
Sporting Kansas City – who got drubbed, 4-0, by the Union at PPL Park just two weeks ago – broke the scoreless deadlock in the 65th minute when Zusi’s free kick found the head of Peterson, whose looping header snuck past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath, despite MacMath getting his hand on the ball.
Zusi sealed the win for SKC in stoppage time when he took advantage of MacMath pushing high to score on an empty net from midfield.
Two minutes after Peterson’s goal, the visitors nearly took a two-goal lead but second-half sub C.J. Sapong hit the post on a wide-open look for Sporting Kansas City, who previously beat Orlando City, the Colorado Rapids and the Dayton Dutch Lions to book their place in the USOC semifinals.
Two minutes after that, the Union very nearly had a goal of their own to equalize, but Antoine Hoppenot’s breakaway was stopped by SKC ’keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
A last-ditch shot from Freddy Adu in the 89th minute sailed high as the Union were shut out for the first time in their last six outings.
The first 25 minutes featured mostly failed long balls and turnovers from both sides.
In the 26th minute, Adu and Lionard Pajoy made a series of nifty moves in the box but weren’t able to get a good look on net. Jack McInerney also misfired on a couple of shots for Philly, including a header that went just over the bar in the 31st minute.
Center backs Carlos Valdés and Amobi Okugo did good clean-up work for the Union, especially in the 40th minute when Valdés cleared away a Peterson header that came dangerously close to goal.
The two teams combined for just one shot on goal in the first half in a game that became physical and chippy from the very beginning.
Before their US Open Cup final, SKC travel to Columbus to take on the Crew on Saturday, while the Union host the Montreal Impact in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.