Open Cup champs: Winning culture drives Sporting KC

No MLS team does the U.S. Open Cup like Sporting Kansas City. It made it four-for-four in finals as it beat New York Red Bulls, 2-1, to capture the 2017 title. Twelve other MLS teams have reached the final, and all have lost at least once.

Goals from Latif Blessing and Blessing's replacement, Daniel Salloi, staked Sporting KC to a 2-0 lead that it held on to until Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in stoppage time.



Four trophies since 2012. Sporting KC joined the Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire as MLS's two four-time Open Cup winners. Only legendary Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles have won five Open Cup titles.

SKC's other Open Cup titles came in 2004, 2012 and 2015. In the last six years, it has won more trophies -- three Open Cups and one MLS Cup -- than any other MLS team.

Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes credited his staff and the club's ownership for Sporting KC's success in recent years but also the culture they have created.

Core values. "The final piece is that you have to have players that not only can play, but they also understand the core values of your club and your culture. We have four. I talk about them all the time: team first, high work ethic, intelligence, and having a winning mentality."

Winning mentality. "We need to be competitive every year, and we need to always be, at least, in the position to compete for a championship. We know that we're not going to win one every year, though we'd like to and we strive to. But we have to consistently be competitive. I think we've done that. That's something that is very, very important to us and we are going to continue to try to be that."

Costly win. The only down note for Sporting KC was that its three forwards each exited with injuries. Blessing had to leave the game with a thigh contusion, Gerso injured his left shoulder, and Diego Rubio had to leave the game in the 81st minute with an injury.

Crowd count. The final drew a crowd of 21,523, the third-largest in the history of Children's Mercy Park.

Sept. 20 in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting KC 2 NY Red Bulls 1. Goals: Blessing 25, Salloi 67; Wright-Phillips 90+1.
Sporting KC -- Melia; Zusi, Opara, Besler, Sinovic; Espinoza, Ilie, Feilhaber, Gerso (Medranda 56), Rubio (Oliveira 82), Blessing (Salloi 43).
NY Red Bulls -- Meara; Lawrence (Zizzo 66), Murillo, Long, Escobar, Adams, Felipe, Muyl (Veron, 71), Kljestan, Davis (Keita 76), Wright-Phillips.
Att.: 21,523.
4 comments about "Open Cup champs: Winning culture drives Sporting KC".
  1. Ed M, September 21, 2017 at 7:57 a.m.

    That was one ugly game. No skill shown at all.

  2. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 21, 2017 at 11:20 a.m.

    Finals often are. It was very helter skelter.

  3. Ed LaTour, September 21, 2017 at 12:36 p.m.

    Is it really necessary to comment with such negativity? Why bother to post anything if you don't like the game. Have you never heard the saying, if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all. Isn't there enough trash talk in politics to satisfy your urge to post something negative?

  4. Nick Daverese, September 22, 2017 at 9:14 a.m.

    I loved the open cup played in them and coached in them. Last one in 1991 something like that. You won it you were the best team in the US. Oldest tournament in the US. Tournament fee in the day was 100 bucks. Once we put an under 19 team in it. They learned a lot from playing in it. They learned how important a good team captain on the field. When they lost to a team they were better then but their team captain made the difference. NYC has had the most winners. They don't put attendances because in a lot of those game you did not get big turnouts. Our average attendance was 900 tp maybe 1500 a game. No stands to watch games either. The old NASL were afraid to put teams in it what if they lost :) the cowards. If upyou won it you could move on and play the Island winners win those you played Mexico. Most teams ran out of money before that. We played the champion of Mexico team began with a in Yankee stadium lost 3-4 in regulation time. When the MLS first started the coaches thought this tournament was unimportant they thought their title was the important thing. I hated that.

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