Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo and first-year club Los Angeles FC advanced through various means to the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night.
Chicago and Houston chalked up four goals apiece en route to lopsided wins. The Fire scored a 4-0 home win over the last remaining Division II side Louisville City FC, while the Dynamo broke out in the second half to defeat defending champion Sporting Kansas City, 4-2, in Texas.
The Union rode an early goal from Alejandro Bedoya to a 1-0 win over visiting Orlando City SC before LAFC finished off the night in Southern California by downing fellow MLS Western Conference foe Portland Timbers 3-2 in a simmering match that may yet boil into a wider rivalry between the two clubs.
The semifinals will be held Aug. 8. The final draw to determine which clubs will host the semifinal matches and the hosting priority for the final will be broadcast from Soccer House, U.S. Soccer’s headquarters, in Chicago Thursday at 1:45 p.m. ET on ussoccer.com and Facebook Live.
Philadelphia Union (MLS) 1, Orlando City SC (MLS) 0
After some cagey opening jabs at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., the Union took the first half by force and had only wasteful finishing to blame for not scoring more than once. The goal the hosts did get came early, after four minutes, when captain and U.S. international midfielder Alejandro Bedoya poked home a corner kick from Haris Medunjanin that was headed across goal by Fafa Picault.
Orlando City, far from stung into response, failed to find a foothold as the home team kept up the pressure in the first half. In the 18th minute, David Accam latched onto a clever quickly taken free kick from Medunjanin, but the Ghanaian could only see his shot saved by the diving Earl Edwards Jr. The visitors, playing their first Open Cup game under new coach James O’Connor, had their best chance of the opening half seven minutes from the interval when Will Johnson rose to meet a chipped-in ball and forced goalkeeper Andre Blake into a diving save. Philly’s first half of poor finishing was capped off by another messy one from Dokcal, who spurned an earlier chance from a similar position. The Czech midfielder fired high and wide from 10 yards out when all he had to do was pass Bedoya’s low cross into the net.
The second half saw the visitors try to come out of their shell and assert themselves on the contest, but to little avail. Cory Burke held the ball up brilliantly in the 52nd minute and whipped in a wicked shot with his left foot that had Orlando City keeper Edwards scrambling to push it up over the bar. The home side was still in control when Orlando City decided to commit more to the attack in hope of an equalizer. Second-half substitute Stefano Pinho, tje co-top scorer in last year’s Open Cup with NASL team Miami FC, crossed low in the 80th minute only for Sacha Kljestan, a runner-up last year with New York Red Bulls,, to hit his off-balance shot straight at the keeper. And despite a handful of chances up the other end from Picault, the score remained 1-0 all the way through the 90th minute and stoppage-time. The Union, losing Open Cup Finalists in 2014 and 2015, will play Chicago in the semifinals.
Chicago Fire (MLS) 4, Louisville City FC (USL) 0
Louisville City, the lone remaining USL second-division side in the quarterfinals, gave good account of itself in the first quarter hour at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. But as last year’s MLS Golden Boot winner tends to do, Nemanja Nikolic broke hearts in the 16 thminute. He headed home an inch-perfect cross from the left from Aleksandar Katai for his fourth goal of the tournament. He had scored two against Columbus Crew SC and one against Atlanta United. It was only the beginning for the four-time Open Cup champs, who made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute. Nikolic, with nine league goals in MLS this season, was involved again- his blocked shot falling to Bastian Schweinsteiger in the penalty area. The World Cup and UEFA Champions League winner took his time and picked out Katai, who hammered into the roof of the net after racing in off the left side. Louisville City, led by three player-coaches after the recent departure of James O’Connor and reeling in the dying moments of the opening period, was fortunate not to concede again before the interval.
Chicago was in the driver’s seat in the second half and only a sprawling save from Tim Dobrowolskikept Nikolic from making it 3-0 in the 58th minute. City, defending USL champions, had little to offer in the way of possession or attack and was reduced to 10 men in the 84th minute when Kyle Smith tackled Tony Tchani hard in the midfield. The wheels seemed to fall off for the second-division side after that, with Diego Campos making it 3-0 in the 90th minute when he chased the ball down and poked it off the toe of Dobrowolski, who dallied instead of clearing. Stoppage time saw another goal, a close-range finish from Elliot Collier, and another red card for Lou City. This time it was Magnus Rasmussen, who struck Tchani off the ball. The Fire will meet Philadelphia Union in the semifinals.
Houston Dynamo (MLS) 4, Sporting Kansas City (MLS) 2
A goal-fest exploded in Houston between the Dynamo and last year’s Open Cup champion Sporting Kansas City with the Texas side prevailing behind a three-goal second half. Proceedings started off with a bang as Johnny Russell sneaked in behind the Dynamo defense on a long run out of midfield in the second minute. Russell drew out goalkeeper Chris Seitz before rolling a shot just past the netminder’s right leg and into the vacated net. The hosts responded a hour half later on the first of Romell Quioto’s brace. Having won a free kick just outside the center of the box, Quioto stepped up to curl a set piece shot over the wall and into the top left corner, knotting the match a 1-1.
After the halftime interval, Quioto struck again to give his side the advantage in the 66th minute. Darwin Cerén played a long ball from his own half over the KC defense that Quioto chested down while in full flight. The ball dropped to his feet as he entered the box and slotted it past the onrushing keeper Tim Melia. Three minutes later Mauro Manotas scored what proved to be the game-winner, sending in a shot off Graham Zusi after nearly blowing the chance to convert a wide-open breakaway. He did better his next time to put the Dynamo over the top, heading home a cross from Eric Alexander into the top left corner in the 88th minute. Although Sporting KC pulled back a consolation goal in stoppage time, Houston moved on to face LAFC in the semifinals.
Los Angeles FC (MLS) 3, Portland Timbers (MLS) 2
If familiarity breeds contempt, it was not evident that either Los Angeles FC, in its first year of existence as a club, or Portland Timbers, whose roots in the American game date back to the glory days of the old NASL in the 1970s, held much for the other in the teams’ second match in four days and third overall.
A hard-fought match simmered all evening and as the shadows grew longer the tackles flew in harder as the Timbers would not relent despite trailing for the majority of the match after two quick strikes, one an own goal by David Guzman in the 33rd minute and the second, a low drive from Carlos Vela five minutes later, put the Portland side up against the wall.
The LAFC goals had come against the run of play, but the Timbers did not hang their heads – instead, center back Julio Cascante used his to bring the Rose City side back into the match just before the stroke of half time when he nodded home a set piece in first half stoppage time to make it 2-1 for the hosts. On the other side of the break, Costa Rican international Marco Ureña struck six minutes into the half with a redirection after he was left unmarked but held onside as Portland tried to clear an attack. In less than a minute however, the Timbers struck back through a rocket from left back Vytautas Andriuskevicius that got between goalkeeper Tyler Miller and his near post. Locked at 3-2 with more than half an hour to play, either team could have turned the tied with another goal, but shoddy finishing from Portland’s Dairon Asprilla, who was dangerous all night, and two tallies for LAFC that were ruled out for offside left the scoreline in LA’s favor. A contentious final 15 minutes saw numerous flash points ignite between the contestants. LAFC will face Houston in the semifinals as head coach Bob Bradley looks to guide his second expansion team – he guided the Chicago Fire to an Open Cup title in the club’s inaugural campaign in 1998.
|Date||Game (home team listed first)||Result||Venue|
|July 18||Philadelphia Union (MLS) vs.Orlando City SC (MLS)||1-0||Talen Energy Stadium; Chester, Pa.|
|July 18||Chicago Fire (MLS) vs. Louisville City FC (USL)||4-0||Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.|
|July 18||Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. Sporting Kansas City (MLS)||4-2||BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas|
|July 18||Los Angeles FC (MLS) vs. Portland Timbers (MLS)||3-2||Banc of California Stadium; Los Angeles, Calif.|