Monday, July 2, 2012

And Then There Were Four, USOC Quarterfinal Round

San Jose Earthquakes 0-1 Seattle Sounders

The fiery match-up between these west coast rivals began with a bang but things turned sour as the match wore on.  Cordello Cato, a former Quakes trialist, was Seattle's lone goal hero of the evening.  The Trinidadian knocked in his first goal as a Sounder, scoring from a difficult angle by slipping the ball between Bingham's boots in the 19th minute.  San Jose are practically the comeback kings of the MLS and the Supporter's Shield leaders switched on to recovery mode.  Despite throwing everything forward, including the talismanic Chris Wondolowski, Seattle's stubborn defense, led by would-be Earthquake GK Andrew Weber, refused to yield.  Things got nasty in the final stages of the game when San Jose's Alan Gordon was ejected in stoppage time. The Sounder's Eddie Johnson threw a punch after the whistle and the host from up the coast were forced to wait at midfield to be escorted off the pitch by security detail in a scene uncommon to and unbecoming the American game.

Philadelphia Union 5-2 Harrisburg City Islanders
Defensive miscues buried the Islanders early on, and despite some second half splendor, the hole they'd dug was too deep to crawl out of.  Sapped by a weekend road trip to Orlando City and Charleston, Harrisburg simply ran out of magic and ran out of steam.  Surrendering a PK by means of a handball in the 6th minute, Harrisburg gifted Freddy Adu and the Union with an early lead.  Three minutes later, an errant headed ball was gobbled up and struck home by Philly.  With half an hour gone, the Union's Pajoy torched the Islander's defense leaving the hosts three goals to the good.  Refusing to throw in the towel, Harrisburg mustered two goals in as many minutes shortly after the restart.  And while the lightning strike goals were impressive, giving up another PK in the second half all but scuttled their hopes of an upset.  Another Union goal in the 81st tacked the final nail in the coffin as Philadelphia handily polished off their USLPRO affiliate.

Sporting Kansas City 3-0 Dayton Dutch Lions
Sporting will look for a double dose of vengeance when they face the Union in the Cup Semis on July 11.  Philadelphia recently treated KC to their worst league result of the year, an embarrassing 4-0 loss.  And last year, Kansas City was ousted from the Open Cup by USLPRO's Richmond Kickers in a 2-0 shock defeat at home.  Finding redemption by dismissing the compliant Dutch Lions, Sporting strolled as a Sapong brace and Zusi strike proved more than enough to advance.  The Semifinal tie with the Union should be a rather lively encounter.

Chivas USA 2-1 Charlotte Eagles
On the heels of their recent conquest of the Lonestar state, the Eagles were looking to prolong their historic cup run.  And after twenty minutes, Charlotte were dominating the Chivas as the Eagle's Jorge Herrera and Mark Bloom tested former Battery keeper Tim Melia.  At the close of the first half, the Chivas had wrested a touch of momentum from the visitors and they would cash in on that momentum shortly after the break.  At 64 minutes, Jose Correa netted for the Chivas and the Goats would ride the slim lead nearly to the end of the match.  In the 89th minute, Herrera forced the issue by slamming a powerful shot.  His shot ricocheted off James Riley and was pounded home but Charlotte's Maricio Salles.  The match looked destined for another dramatic extra time finish, but the official was rather generous with his allowance of extra time and Correa headed in the winner from a free kick to vanquish the Eagles deep into extra time.

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