Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Open Cup Chaos

Once again, this competition has been turned on its head!  Tuesday was certainly a great night for the underdogs as third round Open Cup action saw several of the nation's premier soccer clubs suffer shock defeats at the hands of their lower division opponents.  In total, eight of the fourteen MLS sides were knocked out of the competition.  And while it may be old news by now, here's a recap of all the Open Cup action from the past week:

Richmond Kickers 1-2 DC United
United squeaked by their in-state rivals with an overtime thriller in Richmond City.  Salihi grabbed the early goal at twenty-four minutes but Nyazamba brought the Kickers level from the penalty spot in first half stoppage time.  United's Saragosa netted the game winning goal deep into extra time to give DC the win.

Harrisburg City Islanders 3-3 New England Revolution (Harrisburg advance 4-3 on PK's)
Without question the wildest game of round three, Harrisburg showed fans of the game what this competition is all about.  All six in extra time; three for the Revs in the first fifteen, followed by an Islanders rapid-fire comeback.  Harrisburg downed New England when it came to penalties, and while its a terrible way to lose...its pretty dang exciting.

San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers
A forty-five yard bomb put the Strikers ahead when Mark Anderson caught the Quakes keeper napping just before the break.  But the upset was overturned when San Jose rookie Sam Garza found two goals in seven minutes midway through the second half to help the Quakes move on to the next round.

Charleston Battery 0-3 New York Red Bulls
Despite spirited play from the hosts, the Red Bulls proved to much for Charleston on the evening and progress in the cup. Read the full match report here: The Empire Strikes Back

Sporting Kansas City 3-2 Orlando City
Soony Saad was Sporting's two goal hero in their scrappy win over Orlando City.  As Orlando is prone to do, City made a poor show of things with a revolting foul and sending off twenty minutes from time.
Although the victory was a narrow one, margin matters little in the Cup.

Philadelphia Union 3-0 Rochester Rhinos
Scoring twice, Freddy Adu led Philly in their convincing victory over the Rhinos.  W's have come at a premium this year for the Union and any win is certainly good news.  Outlasting the lightning delay and subsequent monsoon, Philadelphia progress to the next round.

Michigan Bucks 3-2 Chicago Fire
More heartbreak awaited the Fire this year in the Open Cup.  Fielding largely reserves, Chicago met their match in the Michigan Bucks.  The PDL unit took the early lead and then impressively fought back to level a 2-1 game.  Scoring three minutes into overtime, the Bucks made Chicago pay the price for failing to give this competition enough respect.

Columbus Crew 1-2 Dayton Dutch Lions
The Dutch Lions left Crew Stadium with a shock upset after two goals in as many minutes at the end of the match.  An uninspiring game was punctuated only by a Crew PK to take the lead in the sixty-fourth minute.  However, Daniel Holowaty had other ideas when entered the match for Dayton with twelve minutes to play.  Assisting a pair of Dayton goals after just taking the pitch, Holowaty led the Lions to the next level.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-3 Colorado Rapids
While the scoreline certainly flatters Colorado, the Rapids handled a lively bunch of Rowdies in Tampa Bay.  Finding the net from a penalty in the fifteenth, the visitors took control early and didn't let up.  Wells Thompson led the charge, spurring both first half Rapid's goals.  The Rowdies showed some grit striking the frame of the goal several times, but Colorado's second half strike put the game to bed.  Despite scoring a consolation goal in stoppage time, it was 'lights out' for Tampa Bay.

San Antonio Scorpions 1-0 Houston Dynamo
In another gritty and surprising affair, San Antonio dumbfounded the Dynamo.  Scoring off the crossbar from a penalty, the Scorpions took the lead early in the second and then poured on the pressure.  Houston had virtually no response and were deservingly eliminated from the competition.

FC Dallas 0-2 Charlotte Eagles
The Eagles pulled off an impressive upset in the Lone Star State in a costly match for the Hoops.  FCD lost several key players to injury, while Charlotte thrived, scoring at the end of both halves.

Ventura County Fusion 0-1 Chivas USA
The Chivas, a team who know what it means to be lambasted and laughed out of the tournament, fielded a strong team against the Fusion.  They were rewarded for their investment.  The Goats took an early goal and although County pressed for the remainder of the match, they were unable to find a breakthrough.

Carolina Railhawks 2-1 LA Galaxy
A vibrant Railhawks side escorted the reigning MLS champs to a new low in Open Cup defeat.  Noonan put the Galaxy ahead in the first, but Carolina netted two in the last fifteen minutes as the team most likely to earn the next MLS expansion spot redefined shame for the visiting LA squad.

Real Salt Lake 1-3 Minnesota Stars
The intrepid Stars milked RSL for all they were worth in a landslide victory that was never even close.  Claiming their Major League scalp, Minnesota advance while Salt Lake are left wondering "What just happened?"

Seattle Sounders 5-1 Atlanta Silverbacks
Seattle decimated the Apes in a rout led by Osvaldo Alonso and Alex Caskey.  There was little to separate the two in the first half, but the break was bookended by two Sounder's goals.  Alonso provided the spark and Caskey lent his speed as the former Charleston midfielder scored his first goal in a Sounders uniform.

Portland Timbers 0-1 Cal FC
Finally, a historic win by amateur underdogs Cal FC at JELD-WEN capped an already exciting third round.  Despite a whopping forty-three chances on goal, including a Kris Boyd PK, the Timbers failed to make a single one count.  Cal found their goal five minutes into overtime and became the first amateur team to score (much less defeat) Major League Soccer opposition.

Here's the moral of this third round story: Respect the Cup.

So many of the small fry's and amateur clubs are honored to even be included in this naturally they're gonna fight like crazy to earn the right result.  Its insulting when the big money MLS teams send out they're reserve squads.  Teams like New York and Chivas came to play and won their games.  Teams like LA, Houston, Colombus, and Chicago did not...and they were simply embarrassed.

So cheers to lower division football and the growth of the beautiful game in throughout the States!!

(Also, if you're looking for a bit more detailed recaps, click here.)

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