KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Soony Saad spent the first hour of Tuesday night’s US Open Cup match struggling to connect in the attacking third. After that, he did just fine.
Saad connected in the 65th minute and again in the 69th, and Sporting Kansas City held on for a 3-2 third-round victory over shorthanded but scrappy USL Pro side Orlando City SC at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Paulo Nagamura added a goal and an assist for Sporting, who move on to face the Colorado Rapids in next Tuesday’s fourth-round game at LSP, and 19-year-old Jon Kempin made six saves in his competitive debut.
Still, Sporting had to hold on for the narrow win despite playing with a man advantage for the last 20 minutes. Orlando City midfielder Anthony Pulis was given a straight red card for unsporting behavior in the 70th minute, after throwing an elbow at Sporting’s Lawrence Olum.
Kempin denied the Lions time and again in the first 45, including a spectacular diving stop on Jamie Watson’s blast in the 40th minute, and Nagamura opened KC’s account in first-half stoppage time, taking a pass from Peterson Joseph and sending a spectacular bending shot past ’keeper Miguel Gallardo from 30 yards out.
Kevin Molino equalized for Orlando City in the 55th, running onto Erik Ustruck’s cross and heading it past Kempin from short range, but Saad wasted little time in putting Sporting back ahead and then adding a crucial insurance goal.
First, C.J. Sapong chipped into the corner to Nagamura, and Saad held up at the top left corner of the area. He collected Nagamura’s short pass back, then slipped the ball just inside the far post.
Saad’s second tally was a nice bit of opportunism. He was waiting 25 yards out for Gallardo’s punch clearance, took the ball in open space and sent it right back in to make it 3-1.
Dennis Chin pulled one back for Orlando City in the 84th, but Sporting held on the rest of the way to avoid the upset.
KC – Paulo Nagamura (Peterson Joseph) 47+
OC – Kevin Molino (Erik Ustruck) 55
KC – Soony Saad (Paulo Nagamura, C.J. Sapong) 65
KC – Soony Saad (unassisted) 69
OC – Dennis Chin (unassisted) 84
KC – Aurelien Collin (caution; tactical foul) 23
OC – Robert Valentino (caution; reckless tackle) 51
OC – Anthony Pulis (ejection; violent conduct) 70
KC – Jacob Peterson (caution; tactical foul) 78
Sporting Kansas City: Jon Kempin; Chance Myers, Konrad Warzycha (Matt Besler 85), Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic; Paulo Nagamura ©, Lawrence Olum, Peterson Joseph (Graham Zusi 59); Jacob Peterson, Dom Dwyer (C.J. Sapong 46), Soony Saad
Subs not used: Jimmy Nielsen, Teal Bunbury, Michael Harrington, Luke Sassano
Orlando City SC: Miguel Gallardo(c); Kieron Bernard, Erik Ustruck, Luke Boden, Robert Valentino; Charlie Campbell, James O'Connor, Anthony Pulis, Kevin Molino; Dennis Chin, Jamie Watson (Ian Fuller 78)
Subs not used: Westley Allen, Kyle Davies, Sean Kelley