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Sporting confident ahead of visit to Columbus

Sporting Kansas City avenged its worst defeat of the MLS season Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup and with a place in the final secured, will switch focus to the league and the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

Sporting lost to the Philadelphia Union, 4-0, in league play late last month, but downed its MLS rivals in the Open Cup on the road, 2-0, on Wednesday for a place in the final against Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 8.

"When we were here last time we probably played the worst game we have played since I came to this whole organization," said Sporting goalie Jimmy Nielsen.

"That was very embarrassing. We had a tough time getting that game out of our heads and out of our system and once we saw that we were going to have an opportunity to play them in the semifinals, we were ready."

With the U.S. Open Cup final weeks away, Sporting (10-5-3) will have to focus on MLS, as it sits tied atop the Eastern Conference with D.C. United. Sporting is 4-3-2 on the road this season, and will face a test at Crew Stadium.

"It is great, I don't think people really realize where we are right now. We have two huge accomplishments," said Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi. "If offered that in the beginning of the season we would have taken it."

Jacob Peterson and Zusi scored in the win over Philadelphia, and after a one- win June, the club has totaled four points with a 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact and a 0-0 draw against the Houston Dynamo last weekend.

Columbus (6-6-4) has quietly put together a decent season, as it sits just two points out of a Eastern Conference playoff berth in sixth place.

The Crew dropped a 2-1 decision at Montreal last weekend, as the Impact scored twice late to snatch a win. But at home, Columbus has played well, and will be searching for its fourth straight win at Crew Stadium.

"I expect us to bounce back," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. "As I said to the players, if you lose make sure you leave everything on the field and work for it. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."