Match Preview: 5.29.2012 US Open Cup vs. Sporting Kansas City
Lions face Lawrence Olum and Sporting KC tonight in Open Cup actionORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City Soccer Club will face Major League Soccer side Sporting Kansas City tonight in the third round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. EST at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City. The match will be broadcast live on YouTube.
Orlando City comes into the match off a strong weekend performance versus Charlotte Eagles. Jamie Watson and Matt Luzunaris each scored their first goals of the regular season, continuing the upward trend that started with each player scoring in last week’s 7-0 victory over KC Athletics in the Open Cup’s second round.
“It’s a huge game for the club,” said Watson. “We’re very, very excited about it. [Sporting KC] is a very good team. Hopefully we can continue our run in the Cup.”
Sporting KC started off the 2012 MLS as the hottest team in the league, but have cooled of late, winning just one game in May. That win did come on Sunday, so Sporting does enter Tuesday’s match with a renewed confidence. Still, KC is not overlooking the Lions.
“[They are] the best lower-division team that I’ve seen in a long time,” said Vermes.
Central defender Matt Besler was a little more forward in his evaluation of Orlando City.
“I hope people realize that Orlando is a really good team,” said Besler in speaking to the Kansas City Star. “It’s not going to be a walk in the park at all.”
One advantage Sporting will have going into the match is insider information on Head Coach Adrian Heath’s system at Orlando City. SKC midfielder Lawrence Olum was a staple of the City midfield last year. He was signed by Sporting a week after Olum’s goal in the 2011 USL PRO Championship Game. The Lions and Heath are looking forward to seeing their former teammate.
“Unfortunately he won’t be in an Orlando shirt,” said Heath. “I haven’t seen him for a while and I would be pleased if he were to get a couple minutes.”
Kansas City will be without two key playmakers in tonight’s match. Forward Kei Kamara and Midfielder Roger Espinoza are out on International Duty with Sierra Leone and Honduras. Kamara’s presence will be particularly missed, as the striker is the club’s leading scorer. He also ranks second in MLS in shots on goal.
Also missing for Sporting is starting keeper Jimmy Nielsen. He is being rested in favor of 19-year old reserve keeper Jon Kempin. Kempin will be making his SKC first-team debut in the match. Look for the Orlando City attack to test the inexperienced keeper early.
The Lions brings what is largely a full squad to Kansas City. Max Griffin did not make the trip due to an injured hamstring suffered against LA Blues on Thursday. Luzunaris will fill in for last year’s goal-scoring leader. The rest of the club is healthy, including 2011 USL PRO Defender of the Year Rob Valentino. Valentino had been bothered of late by a hamstring issue, but went the full 90 against Charlotte.
If Orlando City defeats Sporting Kansas City, the Lions will host either Colorado Rapids from MLS or Tampa Bay Rowdies from the North American Soccer League on Tuesday, June 5, at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Ticket information will be released following tonight’s result.
Tonight’s match will be broadcast on YouTube through Sporting Kansas City’s official YouTube Channel. The broadcast will begin at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. For more info, visit www.youtube.com/sportingkansascity.
Players to Watch - Jamie Watson & Matt Luzunaris:
Both Luzunaris and Watson seem poised to go on a tear. Watson in particular has seen his confidence renewed with his play over the last week, scoring in both last Tuesday’s 7-0 drubbing of amateur side KC Athletics and his smooth strike against Charlotte. Luzunaris has struggled with his finishing of late, but showed on Saturday that he’s more than capable of finding the back of the net.
Both Watson and Luzunaris have experience at the MLS level, something that will help the club during the Open Cup. Luzunaris spent last season with San Jose Earthquakes, so he is well acquainted with Kansas City’s back line. His knowledge will prove crucial to the Lions’ attack tonight.
Wes Allen, Kieron Bernard, Luke Boden, Charlie Campbell, Dennis Chin, Justin Clark, Kyle Davies, Ian Fuller, Miguel Gallardo, Sean Kelley, Matt Luzunaris, Jerome Mechack, Kevin Molino, James O’Connor, Anthony Pulis, John Rooney, Erik Ustruck, Rob Valentino, Jamie Watson