KANSAS CITY, Kan. – One down. Two to go.
That’s the approach Sporting Kansas City are taking after winning their first US Open Cup title since the then-Wizards did it in 2004.
No matter what happens the rest of the way this season, Sporting know they’ll be playing in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League. That’s been one of the club’s stated goals from Day 1, and they’re glad to have the berth in hand.
But after outlasting Seattle in a penalty shootout to win Wednesday night’s Open Cup final – and their first silverware since that 2004 triumph – Sporting said the pressure to add to that accomplishment is still on.
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“I think this will give us a big lift,” midfielder Graham Zusi said after the match. “I hope so. It’s a pretty big deal. Hopefully we can keep riding this momentum. It’s not going to take away from some of the goals we set at the beginning of the season. This was one of them. The Supporters’ Shield is another one. The [MLS Cup] championship is another one.”
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Kansas City, who reached the MLS Cup final in 2004 but have never pulled off a single-season Cup double, are solidly in the hunt for both of their remaining goals. With 11 matches to go in the regular season, Sporting are tied with Houston for the Eastern Conference lead and four points behind Shield leaders San Jose.
“We’ve got a ton of games left,” right back Chance Myers told MLSsoccer.com, “but we’re right where we need to be.”
And in surviving the hard-fought, controversial final, left back Seth Sinovic said, Sporting picked up experience in how to win tight matches.
‘We build confidence going through games like this,” he said. “We know how to grind out the win now. Hopefully, that will help us going through the playoffs.”
In the meantime, manager Peter Vermes said, Sporting have to set Wednesday night’s result aside and concentrate on securing a good postseason position.
“It’s a good confidence builder, but we’ve got a game on Saturday,” said Vermes, whose team resumes MLS action at home against D.C. United on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live). “We’re in a pretty tight battle with a lot of teams at the moment, which really seems to be the case every year. We’ll keep working and keep playing. We’ve got to get over this pretty quickly and get on with the next game.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.