Minnesota United 1:2 Sporting Kansas City (US Open Cup)
Minnesota United 2:1 Sporting Kansas City (US Open Cup)
National Sports Center – Blaine, Minnesota
Attendance- 7700 (250 away)
Scarf- $25 (with ticket for Club León friendly)
Another week and another visit to the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota. This time to watch Minnesota United play MLS side, and defending US Open Cup champion, Sporting Kansas City in the fourth round of the US Open Cup. The US Open Cup is the oldest ongoing national football competition in the US, starting as the National Challenge Cup before being renamed in 1990. The worlds third longest running open football tournament features all 38 professional US clubs as well as 42 amateur clubs. As a note, this competition is divided by region until you get to the quarterfinals so you often get some good matches between lower league sides against nearby MLS sides.
The National Sports Center in Blaine doesn’t have much around it. I arrived about an hour and a half before kickoff and partook in the pregame festivities with the Dark Clouds, the supporters group for Minnesota United. The seats are pretty cheap, so I snagged a $24 ticket in the Dark Clouds section and made my way inside.
This was a cup game on a Wednesday evening, but the Kansas City fans traveled in pretty substantial numbers as it’s more than an 8 hour drive. They were sat in the corner of the ground but were impressive and loud throughout the match, with a liberal helping of cowbells. I must say, hats off to the traveling KC fans.
After my last visit, I was happy to be able to acquire a scarf to add to my collection. $25 for a scarf with a ticket for a summer friendly between Minnesota United and Mexican side Club León at the local baseball stadium, Target Field.
This was a considerably better match then my previous visit to Blaine. Sporting KC is a great side, playing decent football with some talented players. Missing a couple of players on international duty, they played a very strong side with a couple young players filling in. Their play was dictated from deep by the deeply impressive Benny Feilhaber, and Dom Dwyer was relentless up front, but Minnesota defended well and was able to string together some decent attacks. A fairly even game went into halftime at 0-0.
After the half, the game got even better. For a game with limited chances created, it was entertaining. KC took the lead from a penalty after a blatant handball, before Minnesota drew level with a questionable penalty in the 81st minute, as it appeared to me that the foul took place outside the box. This lead to a good chant by the KC fans of “he’s blind, he’s dead, he’s born to be a ref”. It may be stupid, but it made me chuckle.
KC was definitely the better side in the extra time, taking the lead in the second half of extra time. They had a goal ticked off for offside before performing the EXACT same move 35 seconds later to score. They saw out the rest of the game easily to progress in the Cup.
This was a much better match, and I’m glad I came back here. Enjoyed the game, and while the ground may be a bit basic, the staff is extraordinarily friendly with a clever collection of food trucks serving pretty decent food. In addition, they don’t try to coat you in lubricant before they screw you on food and drink. I will be back again, as I seem to be fond of this team.