The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has offered up endless drama over the years, and the 2017 final added another memorable chapter on a muggy night in Kansas City.
Sporting Kansas City outwitted the New York Red Bulls in a blood-and-thunder first half, racing out to an early lead via a Latif Blessing header. And Daniel Salloi's clever touch past Ryan Meara in the second stanza was enough to hold off a late Red Bulls charge led by Bradley Wright-Phillips, as the home side sweated out a 2-1 victory at Children's Mercy Park to claim their fourth Open Cup title, and their third in the past six years.
Conversely, it marks the latest chapter in big-game frustration for New York, whose two-decade-plus wait for a championship trophy continues.
- 25' – SKC – Latif Blessing | WATCH
- 66' – SKC – Daniel Salloi | WATCH
- 90+1' – NY – Bradley-Wright-Phillips | WATCH
- CUP KINGS: SKC boast an outstanding history in cup finals under longtime manager Peter Vermes. They are now 4-0 in championship games in his tenure, comprising 2012, 2015 and 2017 Open Cup final wins and the 2013 MLS Cup. And it's no coincidence that three of those occasions took place at their raucous CM Park home, where the crowd truly was a 12th man. Witness the visceral roar after referee Hilario Grajeda blew the final whistle:
- CLAWING FOR EVERY INCH: While full of drama and tension, that fateful first half was also marked by a litany of hard fouls, gamesmanship and vocal complaints towards Grajeda. Vermes spent most of his halftime interview airing his frustrations with the ref, while RBNY's cunning midfielder Felipe made the most of some ill-advised contact from Diego Rubio, a play that could easily have led to a red card for the Sporting striker, and a very different storyline on the night:
- NEW HEROES: KC's sustained success has been anchored by a steady veteran core, yet on this night it was two fresh young faces who made the difference. Blessing arrived as an unknown prospect from the Ghanaian league over the winter, while Salloi is a Homegrown (by way of an exchange-student path from his native Hungary) who few outside of the KC region would've expected to strike the game-winner. Their contributions are a tribute to both the club's scouting and its culture of competition.