KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Momentum is everything in a penalty kick shootout. And just moments after surviving a 31-shot barrage and making 11 saves, Earthquakes goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell made one more, stuffing Benny Feilhaber to start the best-of-five shootout.
Moments after that, all that momentum vanished when Chris Wondolowski’s first-round attempt was stopped.
The Earthquakes never got that edge back, falling 1-1 (5-4) to Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park in the second U.S. Open Cup semifinal appearance in club history.
“It’s always good to get off to a good start like that. You try to be as mentally strong as you can, and you hope you lean the right way and time some of them well,” Tarbell said.
Wondolowski, a seasoned striker, knew exactly what he wanted to do as he lined up to shoot.
“You always stick with the plan, and I tried to hit the low left corner,” Wondolowski said. Sporting KC goalie “Tim Melia got a good jump on it and made the save.”
The two teams converted nine straight attempts, and Victor Bernardez stepped to the spot in the sixth round needing a goal to extend the match.
Melia dove to his right, stopping Bernardez and sending his club to the U.S. Open Cup final against the winner of next week’s FC Cincinnati-New York Red Bulls match.
The 6-foot-3 Tarbell turned himself into a bearded wall throughout the 120 minutes of regulation and extra time, and was the biggest reason why the match got to penalty kicks.
Sporting KC turned up the pressure after Danny Hoesen got San Jose on the board in the fourth minute on a textbook counterattack. The Earthquakes surrendered the equalizer in the 32nd minute, and likely would’ve…
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