Ike Opara just can’t stop scoring. Just four days after his bicycle kick winner vs. the LA Galaxy, the Sporting Kansas City defender found the back of the net again to start his team on their way to a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16.
Opara’s game-winning tally came off a corner kick just past the hour mark. Kevin Ellis headed a long delivery from Ilie back across goal, and Opara redirected the effort down past Houston ‘keeper Joe Willis and into the back of the net.
Sporting, who fielded close-to a first-choice lineup, largely controlled the tempo of the game, though the Dynamo were not without their chances. However, the home side would ultimately fall victim to their push for an equalizer in injury time, as Latif Blessing set up Gerso Fernandes for a crisp finish off a two-on-one breakaway.
- PK OR SIMULATION?: Perhaps the most controversial moment of the game came immediately following Opara’s goal. Dynamo youngster Memo Rodriguez cut into the penalty area from the left and appeared to be tripped up by Sporting right back Saad Abdul-Salaam. Instead of pointing to the penalty spot, however, referee Fotis Bazakos opted to give Sporting the free kick and show Rodriguez a yellow card for simulation. Replays showed minimal contact between the two players, though their feet did get tangled.
- FORTRESS BBVA FALLS: Wednesday night’s loss did mark the first time that the Dynamo have lost at BBVA Compass in 2017 in competitive play. Though Houston’s record in the league is intact, the result serves as a timely reminder that the Dynamo may not be able to exclusively rely on their home-field advantage if they are to remain contenders as the MLS season rolls on.
- CHENTE GETS A RUN-OUT: In a game where head coach Wilmer Cabrera opted to go with a healthy sprinkling of younger players, including a number called up from USL affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC, veteran forward Vicente Sanchez got a full 90-minute run-out for the Dynamo. However, the crafty Uruguayan had a rough time getting anything going offensively. He had a breakaway chance saved at a tight angle by Tim Melia, but was otherwise isolated in the final third and unable to make his mark on the game. With Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Boniek Garcia all potentially gone for Gold Cup duty, Cabrera and the Dynamo will be hoping to see some improvement from the wily forward in the next few weeks.
Houston Dynamo lineup (4-2-3-1, right to left): #31 Joe Willis (GK) – #16 Kevin Garcia, #2 Jalil Anibaba, #26 Taylor Hunter, #15 Dylan Remick – #36 Charlie Ward, #35 Eric Bird (Joseph Holland 81') – #11 Andrew Wenger (Boniek Garcia 62'), #14 Alex (Ruben Luna 68'), #18 Memo Rodriguez – #10 Vicente Sanchez
Substitutes: #24 Calle Brown (GK), #8 Joe Holland, #23 Jose Escalante, #27 Boniek Garcia, #38 Kai Greene, #39 Ruben Luna, #41 Jorginho James
Sporting KC lineup (4-3-3, right to left): #29 Tim Melia (GK) – #17 Saad Abdul-Salaam (Erik Palmer-Brown 74'), #3 Ike Opara, #4 Kevin Ellis, #15 Seth Sinovic – #27 Roger Espinoza, #6 Ilie, #94 Jimmy Medranda – #7 Gerso Fernandes (Kharlton Belmar 90+4'), #39 Cameron Porter (Soni Mustivar 54'), #9 Latif Blessing
Substitutes: #21 Andrew Dykstra (GK), #2 Erik Palmer-Brown, #44 Parker Maher, #85 Felipe Hernandez, #93 Soni Mustivar, #90 Kharlton Belmar