Ghanaian winger Latif Blessing hit a brace before his international team coach as a resilient 10-man Sporting Kansas City team advanced to the 2017 US Open Cup semifinals with a riveting 3-0 extra-time victory over FC Dallas on Tuesday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
Down a man for most of the match, Sporting Kansas City put in a resilient defensive performance and turned on the attack in extra time.
An already feisty encounter would ooze with incredible drama over the final 30 minutes. Salloi, who entered late in the second half, dashed into the attacking third in the 96th minute and teed up Blessing whose shot was saved by a sprawling Gonzalez.
Blessing lifted his team into the lead in the 108th minute — three minutes into added time of the first overtime period. As a 91st-minute substitute, Benny Feilhaber would stamp his name on proceedings with a clever layoff that was calmly slotted into the back of the net by Blessing, much to the jubilation of an electric crowd at Children’s Mercy Park.
It was Blessing’s first career Open Cup goal and Feilhaber’s seventh assist in the competition, ranking first on the club’s all-time charts.
Shortly after Morales picked up FC Dallas’ second red card, Blessing notched his second goal in jaw-dropping fashion. Salloi raced onto a Feilhaber pass and cut the ball back near the right touchline.
Medranda was late to arrive on the opposite side of the box and unfurled a rocket that was deftly steered into the net by Blessing, who was played onside by Atiba Harris near the goal line.
Gonzalez thwarted Blessing in his bid for a hat-trick in the 117th minute, making an impressive save one-on-one, but Salloi wouldn’t be denied Sporting Kansas City’s third. With FC Dallas caught with numbers forward, the 20-year-old received a pass from Feilhaber and prodded home for the proverbial dagger that sealed a remarkable victory.
Sporting Kansas City will now enjoy a 10-day break before continuing its MLS regular season campaign on July 22 at rivals Real Salt Lake.