KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For 65 minutes on Tuesday night, it looked like Sporting Kansas City were a goal away from moving on to their first US Open Cup semifinal since 2004. Then came the rain, the thunder and the lightning.
After more than an hour waiting in the locker rooms for the weather to clear, Sporting gave up two goals to the Richmond Kickers — the first just seconds after play resumed — and lost their first game since May 21, 2-1 at Livestrong Sporting Park, to crash out of the domestic cup in the quarterfinals.
Richmond move on to face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Aug. 30. Sporting will look to continue their 10-game unbeaten streak in league play on Saturday against the Houston Dynamo.
The first opportunities of the match went to Kansas City in the 16th minute as Milos Stojcev was hacked down 25 yards from goal to set up a free kick in an optimal position at the top of the box. Luke Sassano lined up over the ball and touched it to a charging Teal Bunbury, who spanked his effort off the side of the wall.
Sporting continued to dominate play from there with the ball stuck either in the midfield or in Richmond’s end despite scoring chances being rare and the pace of the game staying fairly slow due to the heat and humidity.
Scott Lorenz came closest to breaking the deadlock when his cheeky spinning back-heel thudded off Kickers ‘keeper Ronne Pascale’s right post in the 23rd minute after Kei Kamara outmuscled his marker and powered into the box. A few minutes later, Chance Myers came close to beating Pascale as well, but his well-struck volley from Stojcev’s corner kick found side netting.
Richmond’s best and only real scoring opportunity of the first half came in the 41st minute, when Matt Besler’s clearance of a long throw-in fell to David Hertel. The Kickers midfielder made good contact on the volley but sent his shot past Eric Kronberg’s right post.
Although Sporting started the second half on the front foot, a giveaway in midfield by Sassano nearly gave Richmond the lead only for Shaka Bangura to send his tame effort into Kronberg’s waiting mitts. Kansas City immediately answered with a header from Kamara that just missed slipping inside Pascale’s post.
After dominating the match throughout, Sporting really should have gotten on the board in the 54th minute when Stojcev sent Bunbury in alone on goal. Unfortunately for the home team, the striker couldn’t get good contact on the shot, skying his side-footed effort high above frame and out of play.
The game was temporarily suspended in the 65th minute for an hour and 21 minutes due to inclement weather, as storm clouds surrounded the stadium and heavy rain fell with lightning piercing the sky all around.
When the game finally resumed, Richmond immediately struck for the game opener, finding the back of the net only seconds after the restart. A long ball was played in behind for David Bulow, who settled and played the ball across the box for Bangura. Bangura barely beat Kronberg to the ball, and his shot came off the goalkeeper’s gloves and bounced into the empty net.
Vermes responded by sending C.J. Sapong into game and the rookie and substitute Omar Bravo both came close to equalizing as Kansas City pushed nine players forward at times. But, in the end, that strategy backfired as Jamel Wallace got behind the Sporting back line, forcing Aurelien Collin into a reckless and mistimed tackle that resulted in a penalty.
David Bulow stepped up and put the ensuing spot kick past Kronberg to give the Kickers a 2-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish and a spot in the semifinals.
RIC -- Shaka Bangura (David Bulow, Ryan Heins) 66
RIC -- David Bulow (penalty kick) 83
RIC -- Henry Kalungi (caution; Reckless Tackle) 16
KC -- Aurelien Collin (caution; Delaying a Restart) 44
KC -- Chance Myers (caution; Reckless Tackle) 73
RIC -- David Hertel (caution; Tactical Foul) 92+
Richmond Kickers -- Ronne Pascale, Henry Kalungi, Yomby William, Edson Elcock, Ryan Heins, David Hertel, Michael Callahan (David Bulow 65), Gerson Dos Santos (Luke Vercollone 46), Shaka Bangura, Sascha Goerres, Stanley Nyazamba (Jamal Wallace 65).
Substitutes Not Used: Matthew Delicate, Evan Harding, Ross Mackenzie.
Sporting KC -- Eric Kronberg, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Scott Lorenz (C.J. Sapong 72), Michael Harrington, Kei Kamara, Luke Sassano (Roger Espinoza 56), Milos Stojcev (Omar Bravo 60), Birahim Diop, Teal Bunbury.
Substitutes Not Used: Korede Aiyegbusi, Kevin Ellis, Shavar Thomas, Jon Kempin.
Referee: Mark Kadlecik
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner; Chris Strickland
4th Official: Edvin Jurisevic
Time of Game: 3:12
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 97 degrees