U.S. Open Cup Notebook: Espinoza’s role uncertain, sellout crowd expected & more

Espinoza (Getty Images)

By AVI CREDITOR

Sporting Kansas City will aim to end the Seattle Sounders' three-year reign as U.S. Open Cup champions in Wednesday night's final, but exactly what Honduras Olympic hero Roger Espinoza's role will be in helping the club try to accomplish that is uncertain.

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes revealed Tuesday that Espinoza picked up a clavicle injury — not a fracture — while on Olympic duty, and that his status for the Open Cup final has yet to be determined.

"Roger did have an injury coming back from London, and he was dealing with it a little bit in the Brazil (quarterfinal) game as well," Vermes said. "He's gone through a lot. Roger is a beast, though. He finds a way. He's someone that obviously is important to our team. Whether he is going to have enough for the entire game is something I'm going to have to assess."

With a crucial league match against D.C. United looming on Saturday as well, Sporting KC will have to be prudent with their use of Espinoza, who drew worldwide attention for his showing at the Olympics, especially his performance against Brazil.

In addition to potentially replacing Espinoza, Sporting KC will have to rely on their depth in other areas. Centerback Aurelien Collin is suspended for the final, right back Chance Myers has been out with a groin strain and C.J. Sapong is battling a hip flexor strain.

"We are definitely suffering right now from the injury bug, but this competition especially is one you need to use every man on your roster," Vermes said. "The difficulty from a manager perspective is being able to rotate your roster and put the right players on the field each step in this competition." 

Here are a few more notes about the U.S. Open Cup final:

SELLOUT CROWD EXPECTED AT LSP

After CenturyLink Field was the setting for the last two Open Cup finals, the scene shifts to Kansas City's Livestrong Sporting Park, after SKC won a blind bidding process to host the final. The atmosphere in Seattle for the last two finals has been unmatched in past tournaments, but an equally raucous environment is expected at LSP, where a sellout crowd is expected to be on hand.

"What we've done, we've raised the bar," Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. "It's great and significant that it goes to another city, and you're looking at a stadium that is going to sell out as well."

While LSP's capacity is well shy of the Open Cup record 35,615 that showed up in Seattle for last year's final between the Sounders and Chicago Fire, that should not diminish the atmosphere that the members of the KC Cauldron, other host fans and visiting supporters are capable of creating in one of MLS' newest venues.

"Seattle has definitely raised the complexion of this tournament, for sure, the spectacle of it, the environment has been first class," Vermes said. "The spectacle tomorrow night will be one that is tremendous as well."

SOUNDERS MOVE ON FROM BIG WINS

With Seattle in fine form after a 3-1 trouncing of Caledonia AIA in the CONCACAF Champions League and a 4-0 rout of the Los Angeles Galaxy Sunday night, the club could easily head into Wednesday's battle with a sense of superiority and a mindset of expecting victory. Don't count on that happening though, as the club's focus has not wavered on the task at hand.

"We started talking about the Open Cup game about five minutes after the Galaxy game," Schmid said. "We're a group that has gone through playing a lot of games (the last three years). We've learned over that period of time managing one game to the next and not getting ahead of ourselves."

SPORTING KC READY FOR HIGH STAKES

Sporting Kansas City is a relatively young team by MLS standards and one inexperienced on the big stage. Wednesday's final will be the biggest match that this group of players will have endured, but it can look back on last year's Eastern Conference final as a reference point for how to handle the spotlight of high-stakes pressure.

"Last year when we played against Houston in the Eastern Conference final we learned a lot as a team," Vermes said. "We were a very young group. The difference is that we understand this is a final. We don't have to approach it from the perspective that we're at home. For us going into it, guys like Graham (Zusi), Teal (Bunbury), all of them realize it's an opportunity to win a championship, an opportunity to win prize money, an opportunity to get a berth into CONCACAF Champions League. All those things are understood." 

This entry was posted in MLS- Seattle Sounders, MLS- Sporting Kansas City, U.S. Open Cup. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to U.S. Open Cup Notebook: Espinoza’s role uncertain, sellout crowd expected & more

  1. Charles says:

    Would rather it was in Seattle, but I am not bitter that KC got it.

    BUT, they sure as heck better sellout the stadium. That would just be plain wrong.

    Go Se4ttle.

  2. g-dub says:

    Espinoza vs. Alonso
    beast vs. beast

  3. Old School says:

    Best soccer stadium in our country.

  4. Rod says:

    Sounders seem to care more about the Open Cup than the MLS Cup…of course they’re winning this match.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Yeah they just pasted the Galaxy 4-0 on accident on Sunday. Moron.

  6. lassidawg says:

    Too bad few will be able to watch it on TV

    IF KC wins que the they only can win at home reponses. (I know it isn’t true but someone will say it)

  7. DJ says:

    Only a couple of matches this season (including friendlies, previous Open Cup, etc.) have NOT been sold out at LSP. A handful of matches were over capacity with a ton of standing-room-only folks.

  8. Ivar Clam Man says:

    $e4ttle

  9. BamaMan says:

    I have a league whose popularity I am trying to grow. I think I will schedule my league championship against NBC Sunday Night Football and my Open Cup Final against primetime Olympic coverage. Oh, and I will also make sure to schedule a gigantic international friendly through my sports marketing company at the exact same time.

    Thumbs up MLS!

  10. ET says:

    The US open cup is not up to MLS, IT’S US Soccer that controls that. Also because of FIFA breaks, they have to take the best opening.

  11. bcoug says:

    However, the larger point that US Soccer couldn’t have done a worse job marketing their product holds up.

    GolTV probably doesn’t have the viewership of some of the more popular public access channels.

  12. Old School says:

    Was that the MLS Cup final?

    Man, I knew I should have DVR’d it!

  13. BamaMan says:

    MLS dictates when the USSF can schedule the US Open Cup. FIFA breaks have nothing to do with it, considering MLS has been more than willing to schedule games head to head with international competitions throughout its history.

    MLS has done a lot of things much better over the last few years. Scheduling big events (MLS Cup, Open Cup, and MLS All-Star Game) has not been one of them.

  14. BamaMan says:

    They’d have been better off putting it on YouTube and local broadcast. I understand the desire to get it on national television – and maybe Goltv threw a few bucks their way – but I genuinely think they’d have been a lot better off long term embracing the future and putting the thing on the internet for free over using a premium channel that will be out of business in a year or two.

  15. Prince R says:

    Seattle is playing the netter football right now.

    SKC still lacks that table-setter to control the tempo.

  16. Bob says:

    Right on the Sunday NFL conflict, but soccer fans are not that interested in women’s cycling.

  17. Mike in Missouri says:

    With Roger back, he and Zusi will do a good job of that. Our issue is that our style leads us to play too frenetic at times. As we mature, we’ll learn to control the tempo within the confines of our system better.

  18. “sellout” is a noun. Perhaps you meant to use the verb “sell out”.

  19. The title game has to be on a weekend to ensure a good crowd and make it convenient for people to watch. You’re never going to escape the NFL at that time of year. The same thing gets thrown out for the season openers during the NCAA hoops tourney. MLS (and soccer in general) has to be able to find it’s niche in the sports landscape because, other than the heart of summer (when baseball is the only competition) there’s always a lot going on. The last point, I think, is a good argument against going to the southern European calendar.

  20. KarlthewonderYak says:

    Wrong is playing soccer on carpet.

  21. Roger the Pirate says:

    What’s wrong is giving a Yak a computer. everyone knows they’re the worst trolls in the wild.

  22. Jake says:

    BAMA… MLS doesn’t schedule the US Open Cup.