The Seattle Sounders run of US Open Cup victories has come to an end after Sporting Kansas City emerged victorious on penalties. The Sounders played on the back foot for the majority of the evening but were equal to the challenge until the 84 the 84th minute when Kei Kamara converted from the spot after a questionable handball was whistled against Zach Scott. Scott would erase the tally just two minutes later, after getting onto the end of a set piece from Mauro Rosales to make it 1-1.
Each side would crawl through injury time, trading long balls and looking for openings on the counter until the final whistle. Seattle took a 2-1 lead early on after Michael Gspurning saved Roger Espinoza's effort to the left side of goal and Marc Burch hammered home his effort into the top center of the net. Things would stay at 2-2 after misses by Osvaldo Alonso, Graham Zusi, and Christian Tiffert. The controversy crept in in the 5th round, after Gspurning save Paulo Nagamura's effort only to controversially be called back for being off his line. Nagamura stepped up for the second time and hammered home his penalty, leaving Eddie Johnson as Seattle's last hope. Johnson's effort sailed over the bar, giving Sporting Kansas City the victory.
There's no sense in dwelling on the refereeing, as what's done is done. But there's also little point in discussing the finer points of the game without discussing the refereeing. The Sounders put in an excellent effort. Sporting Kansas City was equal to it. Penalty shootouts are in and of themselves the equivalent to the toss of the coin. It was a painful, seemingly unjust, way for Seattle's run to come to an end. But ultimately, any game decided by penalties is going to result in a painful, unjust ending. This wasn't the Sounders at their best, but they held the home side to the very end and lost in the cruelest fashion in all of sports. There's no shame to be had, not lessons to be learned; to put it bluntly, shit happens. Tonight, it happened to the Sounders.
Let's hear it for sports!