Saturday, June 9, 2012

Open Cup Update: Fourth Round Recap

Another exhilarating installment in this year's Open Cup drama saw half of the fourth round fixtures finish in extra time, and three of the eight games were decided by late penalties.  At this stage in the tournament, there were some predictable results but a record three lower division teams (all USLPRO) have made it into the quarterfinals.  Here are the latest results from the Cup:

Chivas USA 2-1 Carolina Railhawks
The Railhawks were brought to earth in heartbreaking fashion, losing the match to a penalty decision deep into stoppage time.  This game was strangely similar to Carolina's encounter with the Galaxy last week.  The Goats held nothing back, fielding a strong first team and the result was a goal in the 31st.  The Railhawks looked more confident after the break and after an impressive attacking burst found their equalizer with eleven minutes in regulation.  It seemed overtime was in the cards, but a handball decision was called in favor of the Chivas and Juan Pablo Angel buried the PK to end the fixture in stunning fashion.

The Chivas will host the advancing Charlotte Eagles June 26th at the Home Depot Center.

Charlotte Eagles 2-1 San Antonio Scorpions
                       (Final after Extra Time)
The Eagles are officially 'Kings of Texas' after routing three different opponents in their Open Cup tour of the Lone Star State, as Charlotte continue their impressive run in the tournament.  Their latest victims, the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions, were finally beaten with a penalty kick at the end of extra time.  Charlotte asserted their dominance early, making the most of their chances and netting in the 28th  minute.  However, a flagging Scorpions unit clawed their way back into the match, scoring a goal with a quarter hour left on the clock.  San Antonio had chances in extra time, but a handball in the box brought things to a bitter end for the hosts.  

The Eagles have conjured their best cup run to date, defeating the El Paso Patriots, FC Dallas, and now the Scorpions.  The win earns Charlotte a draw with Chivas USA at the HDC.  Interestingly enough, their second best OC performance, in 2005, was a win at El Paso and then an hotly contested 3-2 overtime loss to the Chivas.  

New York Red Bulls 1-3 Harrisburg City Islanders
                       (Final after Extra Time)
Harrisburg scored early in the 13th minute against the run of play.  However, it was New York who bossed the match, owning nearly every minute of regulation.  A heavy spell of pressure after the restart gave the Red Bulls a goal in the 59th.  The game proceeded to extra time and Harrisburg found the net almost immediately in the 94th.  The Islanders were then subjected to a New York onslaught but held on and even bagged one more goal just before extra time ended.

Harrisburg move on to face the Philadelphia Union in the Quarterfinals.  Oddly enough, the Islanders will have a chance to feel out their opponent in an exhibition match with their MLS affiliate on June 12 before their Open Cup date two weeks later.

Philadelphia Union 2-1 DC United
                       (Final after Extra Time)
In a lively tangle between the two Eastern Conference foes, Philly got the better of United but needed extra time to do so.  Both teams scored in first half stoppage time, the Union notching the first goal and DC responding hardly a minute later.  The match was a scrappy one and there were send-offs for each side in the extra period.  But more importantly, there was a Philadelphia goal that came just after that extra time started.

Dayton Dutch Lions 2-1 Michigan Bucks
                       (Final after Extra Time)
For a team with little to no league success, the Dayton Dutch Lions are making Open Cup history.  Coming off a massive win against the Columbus Crew, the Lions advanced with a dramatic victory, visiting the PDL's Michigan Bucks.  Unfortunately for the Bucks, it will be remembered as a match they "could have won", as they dominated play but failed to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.  Dayton struck first in the 13th and the teams continued to exchange shots in minor skirmishes.  Michigan leveled the game just after half time, but could not find the game winner.  Despite an audacious surge by the Bucks in extra time, they conceded a penalty and Dayton's Joel DeLass stamped the Lions ticket to the next round.

The Dutch Lions will challenge Sporting KC at LiveStrong Park in the Quarterfinals.

Colorado Rapids 0-2 Sporting Kansas City
Sporting were the beneficiaries of a Colorado own goal in the 29th minute.  A free quick took a turn off the keeper, then the post, then keeper again on its way into the net.  A CJ Sapong header put the game beyond doubt in the 79th minute.

Cal FC 0-5 Seattle Sounders
Crushing the dreams of the would-be Cinderella Cal FC, the Sounders thrashed their opponents with a torrent of five goals in a twenty minute span.  To their credit, the visitors kept Seattle at bay for the entirety of the first half, but the floodgates were opened shortly after the break.  As in the Silverback's fixture, Alonso led the way, scoring from the spot in the 50th.  Freddy Montero delivered a brace and Andy Rose found the net again in the 65th minute.  Combining once more with Caskey, Alsonso bookended the scoring with a brace of his own, thus completing Cal's epic Open Cup run.

Minnesota Stars FC 0-1 San Jose Earthquakes
It took them eighty-five minutes to do so, but the Quakes finally managed to unlock a stubborn Minnesota defense.  Still relishing the footballing lesson they delivered to RSL a week before, the Stars engaged San Jose with confidence.  They opted to play defensively, coming out of their shell on incisive counterattack runs.  And although the Stars did shine, Lenhart's late goal was just enough to sink the NASL squad.

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