KANSAS CITY — It took an all-time goal from Yohan Croizet to get there, but Sporting Kansas City advanced to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals Saturday after a 3-2 win over FC Dallas.
But that goal? It looked like a pop-up baseball first.
A Dallas clearance near the goal line in the 89th minute shot straight up in the air. Everyone below stared upwards, waiting to see where it landed, in the midst of a late-match 2-2 tie. Meanwhile, Croizet positioned himself so that pop-up landed directly on his left foot. He didn’t even take the time to rearrange the ball, to take a second to line up his shot. By the time everyone else brought their eyes back down, Croizet had already redirected the ball from its downward trajectory and seared it into the back of the net.
“Seriously, I can’t believe it,” Croizet said. “It’s the best goal in my career. I’m so happy.”
According to Kansas City manager Peter Vermes, a goal like that has been a long time coming for Croizet.
“I told him early on in the season … there was a point where in the first five games he probably could have had anywhere between three and five goals with some great chances that he had, and he was just a little bit unlucky,” Vermes said. “It was a world-class finish. … Unbelievable finish, just tremendous.”
Croizet’s heroics saved Kansas City from if not a loss in the Open Cup, then at least from extra time. They were locked 2-2 with Dallas after initially coming from behind.
Daniel Salloi notched his second goal of the night, and gave Sporting its first lead in the 66th minute. An assist from Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal rolled to Salloi’s feet, where he took half a tick to settle possession and launched a volley into the back of the net.
Just 11 minutes later, Dallas equalized off a Roland Lamah shot through major traffic in the box.
The three goals scored in the second half came after a flurry of activity in the first half that left both teams tied 1-1 at halftime.
FC Dallas had already lofted several shots at Kansas City goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas by the time they finally got one to connect in the 18th minute. Dallas’ Michael Barrios got a shot off that a diving Zendejas save took care of, but as Zendejas scrambled up from the ground, Barrios lofted the rebound over his head towards the goal line. Carlos Gruezo was right at the line to tap it in and give Dallas the early lead.
Kansas City’s first-half equalizer was similar, in that there was initial confusion of who actually scored. But it was also a goal that underscored the chaos of the preceding seconds.
Roger Espinoza had just created Kansas City’s best chance of the night in the 41st minute, his header requiring a diving save from Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez. In the next minute, Emiliano Amor got off another header that bounced off the crossbar. Another immediate shot went straight into the far post.
Finally, after Sporting somehow maintained possession on both those rebounds, Ike Opara got his head under a ball on the near side and sent his shot straight into the box. Similarly to Dallas’ score, Opara’s ball would have eventually made it into the side netting inside the goal. But just for good measure, Salloi was sliding into the goal line at the same time, and safely put the ball away.
“I couldn’t believe that we hit the post twice and I was just very happy we could finish it off,” Salloi said. “I told Ike I’m sorry that I stole his goal … I’m a forward at the end of the day; I’ve got to score everything. And I’m very happy after that I could score again because it’s the first time I could do it (a two-goal game).”
Sporting’s 3-2 win came in front of an announced crowd of 15,238 at Children’s Mercy Park, and it is the second time in two years Kansas City has knocked FC Dallas out of the Open Cup.