U.S. Open Cup Preview: Real Salt Lake at Sporting Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Wednesday, August 12, 2015) – Real Salt Lake’s 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup road continues TONIGHT with a Semifinal matchup against MLS rival Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park, site of the clubs’ historic MLS Cup 2013 shootout, with tonight’s kickoff at 6:30 p.m. MT. Fans can follow the game on YouTube.com/USSoccer or via ESPN700 AM, whose coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. MT.

The RSL-Sporting Kansas City winner advances to the 102nd Final in the tourney against tonight’s Philadelphia Union-Chicago Fire victor, as those MLS teams kick off an hour earlier tonight in the opposite Semifinal. Should RSL win at Sporting Park tonight – a victory would be its first-ever at the venue and would mark the club’s first-ever road Open Cup win – it could host the September 30 Final against Philadelphia, or would travel to Chicago to face the Fire at Toyota Park. Sporting KC would travel to either the Union or the Fire should it win tonight.

RSL and Head Coach Jeff Cassar are seeking to advance to the Claret-and-Cobalt’s NINTH final – of the league, conference, domestic or continental variety – in eight seasons since 2008. RSL and Kansas City are the only two MLS clubs to have advanced to both the Open Cup and MLS Cup Finals since 2009, while the teams have played to a pair of scoreless draws in the two regular-season matches played at Sporting Park since the dramatic 10-round shootout in sub-freezing temperatures back on Dec. 7, 2013 crowned the home side MLS champions.

Tonight’s match marks Real Salt Lake’s fourth and final road match of an 11,000-mile, three-competition, four-city, four-time zone marathon that saw last week’s 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League win at Municipal in Guatemala City sandwiched between a record-setting 4-6 loss at D.C. United on August 1 and Saturday’s 0-4 loss at Vancouver.

How to Follow Real Salt Lake @ Sporting Kansas City U.S. Open Cup Semifinal

•   Coverage Begins: 6:30 p.m. MT

•   Web Stream: RealSaltLake.com or YouTube.com/USsoccer

•   English Radio: ESPN700 AM (6:00 p.m. MT) – Bill Riley & Trey Fitz-Gerald

•   Spanish Radio: 102.3 La Gran D FM / 1600 AM – Nelson Moran & Fernando Hortal

•   Online: The @RealSaltLake and @opencup / @usopencup Twitter Feeds provide updates

Game Guide for Wednesday’s RSL @ KC Open Cup Semifinal Now Available Online

Following is the link to the Adobe PDF version of the MLS Game Guide in advance of Wednesday’s contest between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City.

Game Notes: Real Salt Lake at Sporting Kansas City

Real Salt Lake – now 11-10-1 all-time in Open Cup matches or qualifiers – owns an all-time 0-7-1 mark away from home in the tournament, including an 0-5-1 mark on the road against MLS opponents, emerging only from a road shootout at San Jose in 2010. The Utah club made its deepest run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup back in 2013, winning a series of coin flips and advancing to host the 100th Final in tourney history, dropping an 0-1 decision at home to D.C. United, missing out on a CONCACAF Champions League berth. Later that season, RSL lost a penalty-kick shootout in MLS Cup 2013 at Kansas City, becoming the only team out of 11 all-time to have advanced to both the USOC and MLS Cup Finals, but winning neither.

RSL has posted a 2-0-1 mark this season against Kansas City in a trio of league regular-season contests, winning a pair of 2-1 decisions at Rio Tinto Stadium in June and July after April’s 0-0 match in Kansas, one of four RSL road shutouts across all competitions this season. Should RSL win tonight, it would amass three or more wins in a single season against an opponent for the fourth consecutive year, after three wins in as many games against Portland – Saturday’s visitor to Rio Tinto Stadium – in 2012 and defeating the Timbers four times in 2013, prior to last year’s sweep of Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado Rapids.

Dating back to 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States soccer and is among the oldest in the world. Open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States, the annual U.S. Open Cup is a 100-plus-year-old single-elimination tournament. In a nutshell, the U.S. Open Cup is very similar to domestic cup competitions popular throughout Europe, South America and the rest of the world. Cup competitions, which usually run concurrent with a country’s league season, are open in the early stages to any club that qualifies, giving local amateur teams a chance to compete against the best teams a country has to offer.

In 1999, the U.S. Open Cup was renamed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to honor the long-time soccer supporter and pioneer. Hunt, who died in 2006, was one of the sport’s first major ownership figures in the United States and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. His family continues to operate FC Dallas in Major League Soccer.

The winning team of the U.S. Open Cup has its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy, which has been permanently retired and remains at U.S. Soccer House in Chicago. At present, Seattle Sounders FC are the reigning Open Cup champion after defeating the Philadelphia Union to claim the 2014 title – the Sounders’ fourth in the last six years.

In leagues like the English Premier League, Serie A in Italy and the Bundesliga in Germany, cup competitions are prestigious tournaments waged between countries’ strongest teams such as Manchester United, AC Milan and Bayern Munich, and smaller teams like the amateur French side Calais that made it to the finals of the 2000 Coupe de France only to fall to defending champions Nantes on an injury time penalty kick. Watford F.C. in England, was another small-time club that hit it big in 1984 by making it all the way to the F.A. Cup Final. Unfashionable Chesterfield of the Second Division (the third flight in England) advanced to the semifinals of the 1997 F.A. Cup in England before finally losing. And the U.S. has seen its share of Cinderella runs, the most recent of which saw amateur side Cal FC advance past two professional clubs (Division III USL Pro side Wilmington Hammerheads and Division I MLS team Portland Timbers) on its march to the Round of 16 in 2012.

The winner of each country’s domestic cup competition, in addition to taking home the prize money, is automatically placed into a tournament to compete against neighboring countries’ cup winners.