|CHICAGO – The Lamar Hunt /U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 delivered some high drama as Division II clubs FC Cincinnati and Miami FC pulled upsets to reach the quarterfinal round.
They will be joined by Division I sides FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City and San Jose Earthquakes.
The quarterfinals will take place across the country with a match from each of the four regions taking place each night from July 10-13.
The wins by Miami FC (North American Soccer League), 3-1 against Atlanta United FC (Major League Soccer) and FC Cincinnati (United Soccer League) 3-1 on penalty kicks in a thrilling nationally televised match against Chicago Fire (MLS) means the two Cinderellas will face off in a high-stakes Quarterfinal that will award the winner not just a Semifinal berth but $15,000 in prize money as the Division II to advance farthest in the competition.
Elsewhere, MLS sides Sporting Kansas City and New York Red Bulls exacted a bit of revenge on Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union, respectively, by advancing past a pair of teams that had knocked them out of the 2016 edition of the tournament. Also in all-MLS action, New England Revolution came back to down D.C. United 2-1.
In the Round of 16’s early game on Tuesday evening, current title holders FC Dallas (MLS) made easy work of visiting Colorado Rapids (MLS) 3-1, while the same was true on Wednesday night for the San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), who beat a second-string Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) 2-1 and LA Galaxy, who came to life in the second half to dispatch lower league Sacramento Republic FC (USL) 2-0.
Three of the eight 2017 quarterfinalists advanced to the same stage of the competition last year: theGalaxy and Revolution, while FC Dallas will extend its modern era record with a 16th quarterfinal appearance.
TUESDAY, JUNE 27
FC Dallas (MLS) 3, Colorado Rapids (MLS) 1
Defending champions FC Dallas strolled past Colorado Rapids 3-1 to book passage to the quarterfinals of theOpen Cup. Oscar Pareja’s FC Dallas piled the pressure on Colorado early, with Ryan Hollingshead and Maynor Figueroa both hitting the woodwork inside the first 20 minutes. And things only got worse for the Rapids when they were forced into a pair of first-half substitutions. More bad luck hit when the referee pointed to the penalty spot in the fading minutes of the opening period. Mauro Diaz stroked home a calm penalty in the 45th minute to send FC Dallas into the locker-room with a 1-0 advantage. The Rapids drew level in the opening exchanges of the second half when Ugandan defender Michael Azira scored a rare goal from 20 yards. The leveler was a false dawn, however, as Diaz was again the creator in the 57th minute when his entry pass picked out Reggie Cannon who crossed low through the box for Hollingshead to clean up with a tidy finish at the back post. An injury to Shkëlzen Gashi and a red card for Kortne Ford forced the visitors to finish the game with nine men and, Javi Morales took advantage in the dying moments with a pin-point free-kick that nestled in the bottom corner to settle the affair at 3-1. FC Dallas, aiming for a second-straight Open Cup crown, advance to the Quarterfinals where they’ll face Sporting Kansas City.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28
Houston Dynamo (MLS) 0, Sporting Kansas City (MLS) 2
After trading 3-1 Open Cup wins the past two years, Sporting Kansas City reestablished its lead in the Cup series with a 2-0 away win against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Just as he did five days prior with a ridiculous bicycle kick in league play, Sporting defender Ike Opara notched the game winning goal, this time in the 61st minute. Ille Sánchez sent a corner deep to the far end of the 18, where center back Kevin Ellis headed the ball back toward goal for Opara, who outjumped his mark and snapped a header into the ground, underneath a diving Joe Willis in the 61st minute. With Houston pressing for a tying goal, SKC’s Latif Blessing found himself with the ball all alone in the attacking half. After beating a tired defender inside, Blessing caught a streaking Gerso Fernandes in his periphery and played a ball to open space for him. Fernandes did well to finish with a left-footed shot back across the goal and into the left side netting, sealing the 2-0 score line in second half stoppage time. Sporting KC advances to host FC Dallas in the Quarterfinals on July 11.
New England Revolution (MLS) 2, D.C. United (MLS) 1
The New England Revolution sent a small but energetic crowd at Jordan Field on the campus of Harvard University home happy after booking a spot in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals with a 2-1, comeback win against D.C. United. After an early goal in the seventh minute by José Guillermo Ortiz gave D.C. the lead, New England settled into a rhythm of ceding possession to the visitors in order to carve out the majority of chances in the game via the break. And the hosts’ reward came just a minute before the break when Diego Fagundez curled home an excellent, free kick equalizer from the top of the arc. It didn’t take long for the Revs to snare the game winner after the restart with Brian Wright bringing down a long ball forward, turning his defender and firing low shot from the left side across the goal mouth into the far side netting. New England moves on to face fellow MLS club Philadelphia Union in the next round on June 11.
Miami FC (NASL) 3, Atlanta United FC (MLS) 2
In the first “cupset” of the night, Miami FC knocked off a second straight Division I side, this time taking down MLS newcomers Atlanta United FC 3-2 at the death thanks to Kwadwo Poku’s 93rd minute winner. The visitors opened the scoring through U.S. Youth International Brandon Vazquez, who headed Atlanta into a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute. But the talented NASL side coached by Italian legend Alessandro Nesta, was even two minutes later via their Brazilian ace Stéfano Pinho, who tallied a hat trick in the previous round against Orlando City. After the break, Rhett Bernstein handed Miami a 2-1 advantage in the 52nd minute only to see Julian Gressel reply from the penalty spot for the Five Stripes as the game see-sawed toward extra time. But just as regulation was about to end, Vincenzo Rennella played a streak Poku in behind the Atlanta defense, and the Ghanaian made no mistake with a deft finish past the on-rushing ‘keeper to send Miami up against fellow Cinderella story FC Cincinnati in the Quarterfinal Round on July 12 in South Florida.
New York Red Bulls (MLS) 1, Philadelphia Union (MLS) 1 (5-3 PKs)
Having been eliminated from Open Cup play by the Philadelphia Union two years in a row, the New York Red Bulls reversed their fortune with a 5-3 result in penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw in the Round of 16. New York got on the board first when high pressure forced a Union turnover in their own end. Four players quickly knocked the ball around, climaxing when Bradley Wright-Phillips received a ball with his chest, dropped it to the ground, turned and sent a square ball to a charging Sacha Kljestan, who slotted home. Hoping to stave off elimination, Philly’s Roland Alberg – the recipient of a Jack Elliot lob from midfield – tallied from distance to level the score in the 86th minute. The Union took control in extra time, but poor finishing resulted in a shootout. All nine players scored on their attempts, save for a crucial miss by Philadelphia’s Fafa Picault. New York advances to the Quarterfinals for an away matchup with another familiar foe, the New England Revolution, on July 13.
FC Cincinnati (USL) 0, Chicago Fire (MLS) 0 (3-1 PKs)
It took all 120 minutes, support from the second largest Modern Era crowd in U.S. Open Cup history of 32,287 fans and three jaw-dropping saves in penalties, but FC Cincinnati pulled out the most notable Cupset of the year, a 2-1 advantage on spot kicks in an otherwise scoreless game on ESPN. Despite manning their posts at opposite ends of the field, goalkeepers Matt Lampson and Mitch Hildebrandt took center stage, stopping a combined 17 shots on goal through extra time. Though Lampson kept Chicago in the game with a point-blank save in the waning moments extra time, Hildebrandt one-upped him in the end, guessing perfectly on three of Chicago’s four spot kicks in front of The Bailey. The Fire dominated more than 70% possession, but Cincinnati was oh so close to capitalizing on its chances, once prevented by a potential handball and the other a difficult offside call. In the end, the USL side advances to the Quarterfinals for a road trip to take on Miami FC on July 12 for right to be the furthest advancing Division II side in the competition.
San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) 2, Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) 1
The San Jose Earthquakes earned a spot in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012 with a 2-1 home victory against Seattle Sounders FC. Quakes midfielder Shea Salinas put his side up in just the sixth minute when his attempt to score on a weak clearance deflected off a Seattle defender and past a helpless ‘keeper. A red card to Francisco Narbón did Seattle no favors in the 35th minute, but Aaron Kovar converted a nifty free kick in the 48th minute, tucking a left-footed shot from distance inside the near post. San Jose’s Dany Hoesen scored one of the night’s finest goals in the 84th minute when he followed up a give-and-go with U.S. Youth International Jackson Yueill with a quick move through the defense and clean finish. The Quakes advance to host the LA Galaxy in a California Clásico on July 10.
LA Galaxy (MLS) 2, Sacramento Republic FC (USL) 0
After a scoreless first 45 minutes, the LA Galaxy got two spectacular finishes from Ariel Lassiter and Bradford Jamieson IV during a three-minute span at the beginning of the second half to polish off Sacramento Republic FC by a 2-0 score and advance to the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. In a match played at the StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium, a Sacramento team that had defeated LA Galaxy II 3-2 in a USL league match last Sunday acquitted itself well against the MLS side, but Lassiter put LA on the front foot in the 47th minute, curling a beautiful left-footed free kick over the wall and into the upper right corner. Less than two minutes later, Jamieson sprinted into the right side of the penalty area and unleashed a blistering strike that deflected off a Sacramento defender before plowing into the net past diving goalkeeper Evan Newton. LA’s advancement sets up a Quarterfinal showdown with a second straight Bay Area squad as they will travel to San Jose on July 10