CHESTER, Pa. -- Sporting Kansas City found more penalty kick magic in finals. The Philadelphia Union only found more heartbreak.
In a thrilling end to the 2015 US Open Cup, SKC made seven of eight penalty kicks to win the tense shootout after the game ended 1-1 through regulation and extra time Wednesday night at PPL Park.
Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia made two stops on the PKs and Jordi Quintilla scored the winner on John McCarthy, who was brought into the game by head coach Jim Curtin in the 120th minute for Andre Blake.
McCarthy had starred in the previous four US Open Cup contests, including two shootout wins, before Blake got the starting nod for the final. But he had no such luck in the shootout, stopping only Krizstian Nemeth as Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, Matt Besler, Paulo Nagamura, Graham Zusi, Kevin Ellis and Quintilla all scored for Sporting Kansas City, who also won the 2012 US Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup on PKs.
For the Union, who were looking to avenge an extra-time loss to Seattle in last year’s Open Cup final at home, Sebastien Le Toux, Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta, Conor Casey, Michael Lahoud and Ray Gaddis all scored during PKs but Maurice Edu and Andrew Wenger couldn’t convert their attempts.
Things were looking much better earlier for the Union, who were looking to capture their first trophy in franchise history. After a sublime long ball from Nogueira in the 23rd minute, Le Toux scored the game’s first goal, beating defender Seth Sinovic to the ball and perfectly sliding a shot past an indecisive Melia.
The goal was the 16th in Open Cup play for Le Toux, the tournament’s modern scoring leader, as well as his second in as many USOC games. Le Toux also scored the game’s only goal in Philly’s 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire in the semifinals.
Sporting’s equalizer came in the 65th minute when Nemeth tucked a beautiful curler past the outstretched arms of Blake and into the corner of the net.
With the impressive strike, Nemeth tied the USOC modern-era record by scoring in four consecutive tournament games.
With the game tied at 1-1, Melia made a big stop on second-half sub Casey, who had entered the contest just moments earlier to big cheers. Two minutes later, SKC defender Ellis denied Casey getting his head on a Le Toux cross as the game went to extra time.
In the 95th minute, the Union couldn’t pounce on a rebound following a tricky Barnetta free kick, but neither team had many good looks in the first extra-time session as tension in PPL Park mounted.
In the 107th minute, Melia punched away a blast from Edu and smothered a loose ball following a Le Toux corner kick three minutes later.
SKC star Dwyer, the top goalscorer in this year’s competition with five goals, got his first good look in the 114th minute but Blake denied him.
Long before the late dramatics, Nogueira and Le Toux nearly connected for another goal in the 37th minute but Melia made a big stop on Le Toux just moments before making a diving save on a Barnetta rip.
While the Union dominated most of the first half, Sporting Kansas City were unlucky not to score in the 12th minute when Nagamura hit the post following great balls from Feilhaber and Zusi.
Blake looked like he may have been seriously injured in the 55th minute when Chance Myers kicked him in the head going for the ball. But Blake eventually got back up and, surprisingly, no card was issued for the play.
The Union return to action Saturday at Toronto (5 pm ET, MLS LIVE), while Sporting Kansas City go across the country to face Portland (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.