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Sporting KC Gears Up to Start Title Defense against Menace

May 27, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City, champions of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, begin their title defense at 7:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Sporting Park against the Des Moines Menace in the competition's third round. Tickets for the match are available online at Ticketmaster.com and at the Sporting Park Box Offices.

Sporting Kansas City enters the single-elimination tournament in the round of 32 and will welcome a Menace side that is one of four USL Premier Development League teams to advance through the first two rounds. Des Moines defeated the Madison 56ers (NPSL) 1-0 in the opening round before upsetting Minnesota United FC (NASL) 1-0 last week to earn a trip to Sporting Park for their first ever match in an MLS stadium.

Sporting KC forward C.J. Sapong has five goals in eight U.S. Open Cup appearances (including qualifying) all-time, tied for the most in club history, and he led the team last year with two goals and two assists in the tournament. On the opposite end of the field, back-up goalkeeper Eric Kronberg has four shutouts in eight starts in U.S. Open Cup competition (including qualifying), most all-time for the team, while Jimmy Nielsen recorded three clean sheets during the team's title run a year ago.

Sporting Kansas City, who will wear the team's all-black third kit for the match, will be without Matt Besler and Graham Zusi on Tuesday. The duo appeared in all five U.S. Open Cup games for Sporting Kansas City in 2012 but joined the U.S. Men's National Team today for five upcoming international matches. Soony Saad is also on international duty with the Lebanon Men's National Team after scoring twice for Sporting KC in last year's third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

Tuesday's match marks the third time Sporting KC will host the Des Moines Menace in U.S. Open Cup history. The teams met in back-to-back years with Sporting KC advancing with a 6-1 win in 2005 and a 2-1 victory in 2006.

The Menace are led by first-year head coach Mike Jeffries, a former MLS manager and scout for the U.S. Men's National Team under Bob Bradley. Founded in 1994, the Menace are making their fourth straight U.S. Open Cup appearance and eighth overall in 20 seasons. The club is 10-7 all-time in the tournament, including a 6-5 mark against professional teams and a 4-3 record in road matches.

Captain Brandon Fricke is a former member of the Sporting KC Academy and scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute of the team's second-round win. Kansas City native Scott Angevine, an MLS League Pool Goalkeeper in 2012 who was based with Sporting KC, has shutouts in each of the team's first two U.S. Open Cup matches this year.

The winner of Tuesday's match advances to the fourth round on Wednesday, June 12 to play the winner between Orlando City SC (USL PRO) and Colorado Rapids (MLS), who meet at 6:30 p.m. CT tomorrow at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

If Sporting Kansas City reaches the fourth round, Sporting Park will host the match with tickets going on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. CT on Wednesday. Sporting Kansas City full Season Ticket Members have tickets to all U.S. Open Cup home matches through the quarterfinals as part of their 2013 season ticket package.

The 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the 100th edition of the tournament, began on May 7 with the largest field in the modern era featuring 68 teams. The oldest annual team tournament in American sports history, the U.S. Open Cup has origins in 1914 and is named after Lamar Hunt, the original founder of Sporting Kansas City.

Sporting Kansas City won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2004 and 2012, prevailing over the Seattle Sounders FC in last year's final at Sporting Park. Sporting Kansas City supporters can follow Tuesday's match online via @SKCGameday on Twitter and the SportingKC.com/GameOn page.

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