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US Soccer

The Great Eight Quarterfinal Edition: Quick Starts, Big Walls & the Power of Four

Fans of the 105-year-old Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup live by its magic moments. And the Quarterfinal Round of the 2018 competition tossed up a good few of those on July 18. Join ussoccer.com for a look back at eight moments of note from the games, in which Tony Tchani really got under Louisville City’s skin, early goals fell in Pennsylvania and Texas (heralding very different results) and Marco Ureña finally scored for LAFC on a night that averaged four goals per game over the four games.

Just Another Brick in the Wall
There are walls and then there are walls. Such was Sporting Kansas City’s respect for what Romell Quioto could do with a dead-ball 21 yards out, they committed eight players to try and block him. Add in three Houston Dynamo players and you might have been treated to the biggest wall in the 105-year-history of the Open Cup (unofficial of course as weird things happen in USOC). In the end, size didn’t matter as the Honduran ripped a dart up and over the construction and past time Tim Melia into the top corner. One wonders what the height of Ike Opara (out with injury) might have brought to the party – or the instincts of captain Matt Besler (also missing). And did the SKC players ever consider stacking all those bricks one on top of the other? Now that would be weird.


(Dynamo's Romell Quioto v. The Wall)

Blake’s Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Philadelphia Union were up 1-0 and in firm control mid-way through the second half when goalkeeper Andre Blake decided to give the home fans a heart-attack. Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer was bearing down on Blake with hungry eyes and the time to play the ball to a teammate’s feet had passed. Suddenly, the time to clear the ball into the Delaware River had passed too. It looked like the 27-year-old net-minder was in deep, deep trouble, before he dipped his shoulder and pushed the ball past Dwyer with the outside of his boot and tip-toed out of the tall weeds. Blake grew up playing on the field, as a forward in fact, in his native Jamaica – and it’s a good thing he did for all those palpitating Union fans in Chester, PA. 

Goals, Goals & More Goals
The four Quarterfinal games produced an astonishing 16 goals. For those amateur arithmetic wizards out there, that’s four goals per game and proof, as if any were still needed, that the Open Cup is a tournament for the goal-hungry among us. The Western half of the Last Eight bracket was particularly productive as LAFC battled to a 3-2 win over the Portland Timbers and defending champs Sporting Kansas City were put to the sword 4-2 on the road against Houston Dynamo. Out East, Chicago put four unanswered past Louisville City, while Philadelphia kept it polite with a dainty 1-0 win over Orlando City. Only one game in this edition of America’s oldest soccer tournament has finished goalless through 90 minutes of regular time and 30 more of extra time – and that is a matter between FC Cincinnati, Minnesota United and the Soccer Gods.


(Four-time USOC champs Chicago Fire pout four past Louisville City)

Only the Real Thing for Ureña
Goals have been hard to come by since Marco Ureña joined up with first-year Major League Soccer club LAFC. The fans, patient and supportive through serious injuries and international duty, were ready to roar on his first strike at Banc of California Stadium midway through the first half against the Portland Timbers. But the Costa Rican international striker, who lined up in Russia for the Ticos at this summer’s World Cup, refused to celebrate. He only shook his head, the first to realize he never touched a ball that went straight in off the head of David Guzman. For an ace veteran goal-getter like Ureña, only the real thing would do. And it came in the 51st minute when he popped up at the back post to poke the ball home. He celebrated this time, with relief on his face, and the crowd gave him all the love they’d been storing up. They even named him their Man of the Match.

Tchani Makes Fast Friends
If they were handing out grade school report cards after Chicago’s 4-0 dismantling of Louisville City, Tony Tchani’s might read like this: Works Hard. Doesn’t Make Friends Easily. The Cameroon-born midfielder was scythed down in the 84th minute by Kyle Smith, who promptly received a straight red card for the offense. Tchani hardly had time to dust himself down before he appeared to be punched off the ball by Magnus Rasmussen, who joined his teammate in the locker room for an early bath. While there’s no doubting Tchani’s qualities and graft as a player, his people-skills may need a little improvement before the end of the marking-period.


(Ureña's long wait for a first LAFC goal paid off against the Portland Timbers)

Early to Rise
There’s something to be said for getting started early. There was no procrastination about Philadelphia Union or Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. It took only three minutes for captain Alejandro Bedoya to toe-poke the Union into a 1-0 lead against Orlando City in Chester, PA (it would stay that way to the end). For the defending champs from KC, tattoo-covered first-year striker Johnny Russell raced clear from one end of the pitch to the other to score a magnificent solo goal after only two minutes against Houston Dynamo (that goal didn’t hold up, however, and the holders lost out 4-2). In the end, we suppose the jury’s split right down the middle on the merits of getting going quickly. 

Lou City Hit the Road in Style
Louisville City FC may have gone out on the wrong end of a lopsided scoreline in the Round of Eight, but their throngs of fans and well-wishers captured the heart of the competition. It was a sprinkling of a home crowd of just-over 3000 fans at Chicago Fire’s Toyota Park, but nearly half of those looked to be wearing purple, in firm support of their heroes and the lone remaining second-division side left in the Quarterfinals. Sean Totsch – a native of the Chicago area – had approximately 150 friends and family up in the stands. And goalkeeper Tim Dobrowolski’s extended family chartered a bus from his hometown of Rockford, Illinois and had masks made of their pride and joy between the posts. Soccer’s not always just about diagonal runs – sometimes you have to pick up your head to get the big picture.


(Louisville City - led by a trio of player-coaches and the last surviving USL team - bowed out last week)

A Fond Farewell
As always, we must say goodbye to some of the sides heading home. It’s the way of things but that doesn’t make it easy. First up, we tip our caps to those brave men from Louisville. They battled after long-time coach James O’Connor left them in the lurch, carrying on with a trio of player-coaches into the Fire and fury of Chicago’s Toyota Park. Lou City, You got guts and great fans and you will be missed. Speaking of great fans, we say adieu to defending champions Sporting Kansas City too – they’ll have to wait another year at least to lift their fifth Open Cup trophy. We say best of luck in the rest of the MLS season to Tim Melia, Ike Opara, Daniel Salloi and the gang, and we hope to see you soon. We’ll always have 2017…

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U.S. Open Cup Jul 25, 2018
US Soccer

Philadelphia and Houston Drawn to Host 2018 U.S. Open Cup Semifinals

CHICAGO (July 23, 2018) – The Draw to determine the Semifinal hosts and hosting priority for the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final took place Monday at Soccer House in Chicago. The Philadelphia Union will host the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Semifinal on Aug. 8, while the Houston Dynamo will open their doors for Los Angeles Football Club in the Western Semifinal that same day.

2018 U.S. Open Cup Semifinals bracket

Immediately after the Semifinal hosts were confirmed, the Draw to determine the hosting priority for the 2018 U.S. Open Cup Final was held. All four potential Finalists were drawn at random to set the priority ranking. Chicago has first priority to host the Final on Oct. 3 should the Fire advance. Second Priority went to Houston, followed by Los Angeles and, in last spot, Philadelphia, who will not be eligible to host the Final but would require the match to be played on Sept. 26 were they to reach the title game.

Of the four teams still in contention, only Chicago has previously won the competition, doing so in 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006 – the first two times happened to come with current LAFC head coach Bob Bradley at the helm. Bradley has brought that same focus on the Cup to his new team in their maiden season, while Philadelphia manager Jim Curtin, who won the Open Cup as a player with the Fire in 2003 and 2006, similarly has his charges aiming for yet another Final after he guided them to the title game in 2014 and 2015. The Dynamo has now reached the Semifinal Round for the third time in club history, having done so in the team’s inaugural year of 2006 before doing so again in 2009; Houston has never reached the tournament Final. 

2018 U.S. Open Cup Semifinals

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Time

Venue

Aug. 8

Philadelphia Union (MLS) vs. Chicago Fire (MLS)

7 p.m. ET

Talen Energy Stadium; Chester, Pa.

Aug. 8

Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. Los Angeles FC (MLS)

7:30 p.m. CT

BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas

2018 U.S. Open Cup Final

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Time

Venue

Sept. 26

Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. Philadelphia Union (MLS)

TBD

BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas

 

   -or-

 

 

Sept. 26

Los Angeles FC (MLS) vs. Philadelphia Union (MLS)

TBD

Banc of California Stadium; Los Angeles, Calif.

 

   -or-

 

 

Oct. 3

Chicago Fire (MLS) vs. Houston Dynamo (MLS)/Los Angeles FC (MLS) winner

TBD

Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.

About the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
In its 105th year, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is U.S. Soccer’s National Championship. The tournament is conducted on a single-game, knockout basis and open to all professional and amateur teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer and has crowned a champion annually since 1914. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor United States soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.

ussoccer.com is the official website of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. There you can stream all the games of the 2018 competition in addition to enjoying comprehensive video and written coverage of the tournament. You can follow the Open Cup on Twitter and Instagram @OpenCup and Facebook @OfficialOpenCup.
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U.S. Open Cup Jul 23, 2018
US Soccer

U.S. Soccer Statement Regarding 2018 Open Cup Quarterfinal Round

Earlier today, the Portland Timbers officially informed the U.S. Open Cup Commissioner it has withdrawn its protest in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal match at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. 

Here is a statement from U.S. Soccer on the situation:

“After a thorough review of the Portland Timbers’ official protest, it has been determined that the inclusion of additional foreign players was a result of a good faith misunderstanding among U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and Los Angeles Football Club. Each organization involved has agreed to determine an improved process to ensure this will not happen again. In recognition of this fact, the Timbers have gracefully withdrawn their protest.”
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U.S. Open Cup Jul 20, 2018
US Soccer

2018 U.S. Open Cup Semifinal and Final Draw Postponed

CHICAGO (July 19, 2018) – U.S. Soccer has announced the Draw to determine hosts for the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinals and hosting priority for the Final has been postponed.

The decision comes as a result of a protest filed by the Portland Timbers in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

The U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel will review the matter as soon as possible. The timing for the Draw will be determined in the near future.


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U.S. Open Cup Jul 19, 2018
US Soccer

Union, Fire, Dynamo and LAFC Make Up Final Four of 2018 U.S. Open Cup

CHICAGO (July 18, 2018) – The Quarterfinals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, delivered a quartet of Division I Major League Soccer (MLS) sides into the final four of the competition which will be held on 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 on Thursday, July 19 at 1:45 p.m. ET on ussoccer.com and Facebook Live.

MLS outfits Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo and first-year club Los Angeles FC advanced through various means on Wednesday night. Chicago and Houston both chalked up four goals apiece en route to lopsided wins. The Fire scored a 4-0 home win against the last remaining Division II side Louisville City FC, while the Dynamo broke out in the second half to defeat defending Open Cup champion Sporting Kansas City 4-2 in east Texas.

The Union rode an early goal from Alejandro Bedoya to a 1-0 win against 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.

Quarterfinal Results

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.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18
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 they did get came early, after four minutes, when captain and U.S. National Team 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 45. In the 18th minute, David Accam was on the attack when he latched onto a clever quickly taken free-kick from Medunjanin, but the Ghanaian could only see his shot well 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 Union goalkeeper Andre Blake into a fine 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 ten 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 were still in control when Orlando City decided to commit more to the attack in hope of an equalizer. Second-half substitute Stefano Pinho, who was co-top scorer in last year’s Open Cup with NASL outfit 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 Union keeper. And despite a handful of chances up the other end from the outstanding 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 now play Chicago Fire in the Semifinals in August.

Chicago Fire (MLS) 4, Louisville City FC (USL) 0
Louisville City, the lone remaining USL second-division side in the 2018 Open Cup Quarterfinals, gave good account of themselves 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 16th minute. He headed home an inch-perfect cross from the left from Aleksandar Katai for his fourth goal of the tournament; he previous scored two against Columbus Crew and one against Atlanta United. And it was only the beginning for the four-time Open Cup champs from the Second City, who made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute. Nikolic, with nine league goals in MLS this term, was again involved – his blocked shot falling to Bastian Schweinsteiger alone in the penalty area. The FIFA 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 where he was nothing short of dominant all night. Louisville City, led by a trio of player-coaches after the recent departure of James O’Connor and reeling in the dying moments of the opening period, were fortunate not to concede again before the interval.

Chicago were in the driver’s seat in the second half and only a sprawling save from Tim Dobrowolski kept Nikolic from making it 3-0 for the home side in the 58th minute. Lou City, defending United Soccer League champions from 2017, had little to offer in the way of possession or attack and were reduced to ten men in the 84th minute when Kyle Smith left a little on Tony Tchani in a midfield tackle. 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 Chicago goal, a close-range finish from the lanky Elliot Collier, and another red card for Lou City – this time for Magnus Rasmussen who struck Tchani off the ball. In the end, the Fire were worthy 4-0 winners and will now move on to meet Philadelphia Union in next month’s Semifinal.

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 ultimately prevailing 4-2 thanks to three-goal second half. Proceedings started off with a bang as Johnny Russell stole in behind the Dynamo defense on a long run out of midfield in just the second minute. Bearing down on goal, Russell coolly drew out Houston goalkeeper Chris Seitz before rolling a shot just past the netminder’s right leg and into the vacated net. It would be 30 minutes until the hosts responded but when they did through the first of Romell Quioto’s two goals it was most impressive. Having won a free kick just outside the center of the box, Quioto stepped up to curl a sumptuous 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 beautifully while in full flight. The balled dropped to his feet as he entered the box and he made no mistake, slotting past the onrushing goal keeper Tim Melia. Three minutes later Mauro Manotas scored what proved to be the game winner, eventually sending in a shot off Graham Zusi after nearly blowing the chance to convert a wide-open break away. He did far better his next time up to put the Dynamo over the hills and far away, heading home a fantastic 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 was the clear victor and moves 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 to the hosts. On the other side of the break, Marco Ureña struck just six minutes into the half with a nice redirection after he was left unmarked but held onside as Portland tried to clear a LAFC attack. In less than a minute however, the Timbers struck back through a rocket from left back Vytautas Andriuskevicius that got between LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller and his near post. Locked at 3-2 with over 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 a pair of tallies for LAFC that were ruled out for offside left the scoreline settled in LA’s favor after a contentious final 15 minutes saw numerous flash points ignite between the contestants. Ultimately, LAFC moves on to chase history and face Houston in the Semifinals, as head coach Bob Bradley looks to guide his second expansion team – he coach the Chicago Fire to an Open Cup title in the club’s inaugural campaign – to Open Cup glory in its first year of existence.

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U.S. Open Cup Jul 19, 2018
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