KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City came back from a two-goal deficit to defeat FC Dallas in the Round of 32 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
After a first half that seemed to mimic the struggles the club has dealt with during the regular season, SKC roared back to tie the game and send it into overtime thanks to offseason international signings Nikola Vujnovic and Marinos Tzionis.
Khiry Shelton, who subbed on in the second half, caused the game-winning own goal in the first period of extra time and followed it up with a goal of his own to ice the game with a 4-2 scoreline.
Shelton and Daniel Salloi credited the comeback win to the hearing the crowd roar when they saw Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce in the stands cheering on the club.
“The momentum really changed when they saw @PatrickMahomes and @tkelce on the big screen,” Salloi tweeted after the team advanced to the Round of 16.
Mahomes is part-owner of Sporting Kansas City and makes regular appearances at Children’s Mercy Park for home matches.
Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who joined the Chiefs this offseason, also shared a photos at CMP for the match on his Instagram story.
“It definitely helps that they were there,” Shelton said. “A lot of people don’t really know that they come to our games. The crowd started going crazy and then we’re on the field chatting to one another like let’s go, let’s go. It’s for us. This game is for us.”
The three-day turn around from a regular season road game on Saturday to the Open Cup match on Tuesday prompted head coach Peter Vermes to insert several bench players and reserves into the starting lineup.
Vermes and the rest of the club hope giving players who typically don’t play many minutes an opportunity to contribute in a high-stakes game will give them momentum they need to earn wins in the regular season.
“We’ve been building towards this and it has a lot to do with the fight of the guys and some guys getting back into form and some other guys still trying to get acclimated to who we are,” Vermes said. “They’re still not there yet, but we have got to keep working towards that.”
Sporting will head north to play the Portland Timbers on Saturday, but first, they will find out their Open Cup Round of 16 opponent in the draw that is set to take place on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.