CARSON, CA - MARCH 19: C.J. Sapong #17 of Sporting Kansas City celebrates his first half goal with teammates against Chivas USA during the MLS match at The Home Depot Center on March 19, 2011 in Carson, California. SKC defeated Chivas USA 3-2. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
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CJ Sapong continues to impress with whatever opportunities he's given. The Sporting Kansas City rookie striker scored the eventual game-winner two minutes into the first overtime period of Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup qualifying match. The goal sent SKC into the final qualifying round with a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynam.
Sapong now has points in three of the four matches he's played. He also scored in his professional debut, as well as picking up an assist in Saturday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
As big as Sapong's goal was, The Daily Wiz, SB Nation's Sporting KC blog, was most impressed with the defense. After allowing eight goals during the regular season, they kept the Dynamo scoreless.
For a defense that was in absolute shambles against Vancouver, Wednesday night was lightyears better. Again, starting were Michael Harrington, Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza against Houston. Inserted into the backline was Shavar Thomas, replacing Julio Cesar Santos, who did not travel due to injury. It was a quick turnaround that saw the group feeling much better about themselves, prompting Besler to tweet postgame "Thats how it's supposed 2 b done! Giving nothing away feels great."
Both teams fielded lineups that included several normal starters and was full of players that have appeared during the regular season. Sapong came on as a substitute for Designated Player Omar Bravo.
Each team scored a goal in overtime, forcing the match to go into penalties where United goalkeeper Bill Hamid saved one shot and his teammates scored on all four of their attempts. Both teams held leads at various points in the match, with Carlos Ruiz putting the Union on top with an 18th minute goal. United tied the match on Josh Wolff's 45th minute goal and Daniel Woodard gave them the lead with a 111th minute goal during overtime. Brian Caroll equalized for the Union in the 118th minute.
Both teams scored on their first penalty attempts, but Jack McInerney missed his attempt to open the door for United. After another successful attempt from United, Hamid stopped Roger Torres' attempt. United DP Branko Baskovic clinched the victory with a successful attempt in the fourth round.