Goalkeeper Danny Vitiello and Rodrigo Lopez were the heroes for Sacramento Republic as they beat Sporting Kansas City on penalties to book their place in the U.S. Open Cup final.
Vitiello saved a penalty from United States veteran Graham Zusi in the shootout after the match finished goalless following extra time, before Lopez stepped up to score the decisive spot-kick for his side.
It is the first time that USL Championship side Sacramento have reached the final of the knockout tournament, and the first time a lower division team will play in the U.S. Open Cup showpiece since Charleston Battery in 2008.
Sacramento will face another Major League Soccer outfit in Orlando City in the final at the Exploria Stadium on Sept. 7 for a shot at silverware and a place in the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League.
But their fairytale win spelled disappointment for Sporting KC as they failed to impose their MLS credentials.
“It was a disappointing match tonight that I thought we did more than enough to get the result that we needed, but that’s the game sometimes,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “We played well. [I’m] proud of our guys.
“It happens around the world. This is why this cup is such a great competition. I loved playing in it as a player and I loved coaching it.”
Sporting KC produced 31 shots during 120 minutes of football, but it was Sacramento Republic who almost went ahead in the 62nd minute when winger Keko forced keeper John Pulskamp into a fine save.
But Sporting KC put the pressure on as the match went to extra-time, with forward Daniel Salloi rattling the crossbar from close range in the 98th minute.
There was nothing to separate the sides, however, and neither team blinked in the shootout until Vitiello dived to his left to keep out Zusi’s effort, with Lopez sending the minnows through.