Thunder midfielder Dale Weiler put his head down when it was all over.
For much of the match Tuesday, the Thunder just wanted to find a way to tie the score. After 19 minutes of play, the Thunder was down two goals and was searching for offense. Even when the Thunder found a way push to the match into overtime, the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer scored again.
Thunder forward Melvin Tarley, who struggled all night, pushed the match to the limit by scoring in the 115th minute to tie the score again. Still, the three goals were not enough. The Wizards defeated the Thunder in a 3-3 contest on penalty kicks Tuesday night in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup tournament at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The loss means the Thunder is out of the tournament.
After Wizards goalkeeper Boris Pardo blocked Jeremiah Bass' penalty kick, it was up to Weiler to keep the Thunder's hopes alive. After Pardo blocked Weiler's penalty kick, the Thunder's efforts to make a comeback all night finally ended.
"It was a tough match," midfielder Ricardo Sanchez said. "It's unfortunate that we lost the match on two penalty kicks."
Sanchez was the main reason the Thunder even had a chance to win on penalty kicks. Twice Sanchez had opportunities to put the Thunder on the scoreboard with penalty kicks in regulation. And on each time occasion, Sanchez beat Pardo.
The second goal by Sanchez tied the score 2-2 in the 84th minute. That was set up by Tarley being tackled by Wizards defender Kurt Morskin in the box. Sanchez scored with a kick to the upper center of the net.
In the 40th minute, Sanchez scored his first goal after the Thunder was awarded a penalty kick, this time coming off a foul inside the box after a free kick. Sanchez scored this time in the left corner.
"We played tonight without any pressure," Sanchez said. "They had all the pressure because they are the MLS team. We played well in moments, and it gave us a chance."
After the goal by Wizards midfielder Rauwshan McKenzie in the 115th minute, Sanchez brought the Thunder back by finding Tarley on a counterattack. Sanchez was able to loft the soccer ball to Tarley, who scored over Pardo.
The Thunder, which is last in the United Soccer League's First Division, is still trying to limit the mistakes that led to it bowing out of the tournament.
Still, the Thunder could have won if it hadn't made mistakes early in the match. The first mistake came when Wizards midfielder Roger Espinoza found forward Graham Zusi for an easy goal. The second mistake was when Sanchez grabbed Wizard forward Adam Cristman in the penalty box even though the ball sailed at least 10 feet over Cristman's head, leading to a penalty kick.
Nate Taylor 612-673-7942