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Charlotte Eagles Finding Groove in 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup


USL PRO Team Meets Chivas USA for Open Cup Quarterfinals on June 26;
Print Out the Quarterfinal Bracket on ussoccer.com and Predict the Champion

CHICAGO (June 25, 2012) – The Charlotte Eagles of USL PRO are still trying to find their footing in league play this year, sitting among the lower third of the standings.

But Charlotte has thrived in the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, reaching the quarterfinals for the first time as the team travels west to face Chivas USA at 7:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday, June 26, at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif. 

The 2012 U.S. Open Cup bracket is set for the remainder of the tournament as five MLS teams and three USL teams look to advance to the Open Cup Semifinals on July 10 or 11 and the Final on Aug. 7 or 8.

The third-division Eagles are coming off a 2-1 overtime victory against the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions in the third round to wrap up three straight games in Texas. Charlotte’s three-win total equals its win output in the USL PRO standings as Charlotte (3-8-2) sits ninth out of 11 teams.

"It is kind of strange that we can’t win in the league, but we’re going through the Open Cup,” Charlotte head coach Mark Steffens said. “We’ll figure that out. At the start of the year, we had several injuries, couldn’t get several guys because of visa issues and we had back line injuries. It seemed that defending-wise we struggled. We were giving up an early goal in every game, and when you’re chasing the game it’s really hard to come back."

The defense has allowed only one goal in three games, posting a 1-0 victory against the PDL’s El Paso Patriots in the second round and a 2-0 victory against MLS’s FC Dallas in the third round. Steffens hopes this represents a continual progression from the team. 

“I think we can get better,” Steffens said. “I don’t think we peaked. I hope we can dig out of the big whole we’re in [for league play]. It’s going to be tough, but I think we can make a playoff run. We’ve got a good group, and over a two-week period we looked like a totally different team. There is room to grow.” 

One interesting dynamic has been Steffens’ use of his goalkeepers this year. Eric Reed has handled the goalkeeping in USL PRO play. Clint Irwin has been the team’s Open Cup goalkeeper and has not made his league debut for Charlotte. Irwin already is proving to be a valuable commodity for the Eagles during the Open Cup.

“We decided to give Clint all of the Open Cup games, and I think he’s approaching Eric’s ability,” Steffens said. “The great thing about Eric is he’s working so hard to make Clint better. It’s a neat combination to see them working with each other. We’re not going with the hot hand – we’ve got two hot hands.” 

The Open Cup tournament consisted of four rounds played on back-to-back weeks from May 15 through June 5. Steffens said the extra training time has been beneficial and that the Eagles will be ready for Chivas to try to continue their impressive run. 

“We’ve never been in the final eight, so it’s really exciting and rewarding for me to watch the players enjoy it and soak it in,” Steffens said. “This is a hardworking group. We have veterans who have been around for a while and we’ve got some talented young kids. We’ve got a good mixture and a great dynamic. There is a unity on this squad and the guys genuinely like each other. I think that goes a long way.” 

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which is recognized as U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 98 consecutive years dating back to 1914. The winner will have its name engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt. 

 

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule
QUARTERFINALS – Tuesday, June 26
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) at Philadelphia Union (MLS): PPL Park; Chester, Pa.; 7:30 p.m. ET
 

Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS): LIVESTRONG Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.; 7:30 p.m. CT

 

Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) at Chivas USA (MLS): Titan Stadium, Cal State Fullerton^; Fullerton, Calif.^; 7:30 p.m. PT

 

Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS): Kezar Stadium; San Francisco, Calif.; 7:30 p.m. PT

^ Note: Changed from original June 2 announcement

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SEMIFINALS – Tuesday, July 10 or Wednesday, July 11
Sporting Kansas City (MLS) at Philadelphia Union (MLS): PPL Park; Chester, Pa.; 7:30 p.m. ET, July 11 

OR 

Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) at Philadelphia Union (MLS): PPL Park; Chester, Pa.; 7:30 p.m. ET, July 10

OR

Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS): LIVESTRONG Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.; 7:30 p.m. CT, July 10

OR

Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO): Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, Pa.; 7:30 p.m. ET, July 10

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Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO)/Chivas USA (MLS) Winner at Seattle Sounders FC (MLS): Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.; 7 p.m. PT, July 10

OR

Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO)/Chivas USA (MLS) Winner at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS): Buck Shaw Stadium; Santa Clara, Calif.; 7:30 p.m. PT, July 10

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FOURTH-ROUND RESULTS – Tuesday, June 5
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) 3, New York Red Bulls (MLS) 1 (OT): Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, Pa.

Philadelphia Union (MLS) 2, D.C. United (MLS) 1 (OT): Maryland SoccerPlex; Boyds, Md.

Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) 2, Michigan Bucks (PDL) 1 (OT): Oakland University Soccer Field; Rochester, Mich.

Sporting Kansas City (MLS) 2, Colorado Rapids (MLS) 0: LIVESTRONG Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.

Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) 2, San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) 1 (OT): Heroes Stadium; San Antonio, Texas

San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) 1, Minnesota Stars FC (NASL) 0: Cagan Stadium, Stanford University; Stanford, Calif.

Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) 5, Cal FC (USASA) 0: Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.

Chivas USA (MLS) 2, Carolina RailHawks (NASL) 1: WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.

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THIRD-ROUND RESULTS – Tuesday, May 29, and Wednesday, May 30
San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) 1, Houston Dynamo (MLS) 0: Heroes Stadium; San Antonio, Texas; May 29

Michigan Bucks (PDL) 3, Chicago Fire (MLS) 2 (OT): Ultimate Soccer Arena; Pontiac, Mich.; May 29

Sporting Kansas City (MLS) 3, Orlando City Soccer Club (USL PRO) 2: LIVESTRONG Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.; May 29

D.C. United (MLS) 2, Richmond Kickers (USL PRO) 1 (OT): Richmond City Stadium; Richmond, Va.; May 29

Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) 2, Columbus Crew (MLS) 1: Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio; May 29

Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) 2, FC Dallas (MLS) 0: FC Dallas Stadium; Frisco, Texas; May 29

San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) 2, Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) 1: Cagan Stadium, Stanford University; Stanford, Calif.; May 29

Philadelphia Union (MLS) 3, Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) 0: PPL Park; Chester, Pa.; May 29

Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) 4, New England Revolution (MLS) 3 (PKs): Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, Pa.; May 29

New York Red Bulls (MLS) 3, Charleston Battery (USL PRO) 0: Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C., May 29

Chivas USA (MLS) 1, Ventura County Fusion (PDL) 0: Ventura College; Ventura, Calif.; May 29

Carolina RailHawks (NASL) 2, LA Galaxy (MLS) 1: WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.; May 29

Colorado Rapids (MLS) 3, Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) 1: Al Lang Stadium; St. Petersburg, Fla.; May 29

Minnesota Stars FC (NASL) 3, Real Salt Lake (MLS) 1: Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah; May 29

Seattle Sounders (MLS) 5, Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) 1: Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.; May 30

Cal FC (USASA) 1, Portland Timbers (MLS) 0 (OT): JELD-WEN Field; Portland, Ore.; May 30

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SECOND-ROUND RESULTS – Tuesday, May 22
Michigan Bucks (PDL) 1, Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL PRO) 0: Chartiers Valley Stadium; Bridgeville, Pa.

Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) 2, Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) 0: Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, Pa.

Cal FC (USASA) 4, Wilmington Hammerheads (USL PRO) 0: Legion Sports Complex; Wilmington, N.C.

Carolina RailHawks (NASL) 6, PSA Elite (USASA) 0: WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) 7, Fresno Fuego (PDL) 2: Lockhart Stadium; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Orlando City Soccer Club (USL PRO) 7, K.C. Athletics (USASA) 0: Seminole Soccer Complex; Sanford, Fla.

Charleston Battery (USL PRO) 2, Reading United AC (PDL) 1: Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C.

Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) 3, Brooklyn Italians (NPSL) 0: Sahlen’s Stadium; Rochester, N.Y.

Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) 3, Jacksonville United (NPSL) 0: Patton Park; Jacksonville, Fla.

Richmond Kickers (USL PRO) 4, Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (USASA) 0: Maryland SoccerPlex Stadium; Boyds, Md.

Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) 1, at Georgia Revolution (NPSL) 0: RYSA Soccerplex; Conyers, Ga.

San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) 2, Laredo Heat (PDL) 0: Blossom Athletic Center; San Antonio, Texas

Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) 2, Chicago Fire PDL (PDL) 1: Toyota Park Practice Field; Bridgeview, Ill.

Minnesota Stars FC (NASL) 2, Des Moines Menace (PDL) 0: Valley Stadium; Des Moines, Iowa 

Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) 1, El Paso Patriots (PDL) 0: Patriots Stadium; El Paso, Texas.

Ventura County Fusion (PDL) 3, Los Angeles Blues (USL PRO) 1 (OT): Hal Shurbeck Field, Fullerton College; Fullerton, Calif.

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FIRST-ROUND RESULTS – Tuesday, May 15
Jacksonville United (NPSL) 2, Orlando City U-23s (PDL) 1: Seminole Soccer Complex; Sanford, Fla.

Reading United AC (PDL) 2, N.Y. Greek Americans (USASA) 1: Ray Buss Field, Fleetwood High School; Fleetwood, Pa.

Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) 2, FC Sonic (NPSL) 0: Whitehall High School Stadium; Whitehall, Pa.

Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (USASA) 3, Carolina Dynamo (PDL) 1: Maryland SoccerPlex; Boyds, Md.

Michigan Bucks (PDL) 6, Jersey Shore Boca (USASA) 0: Ultimate Soccer; Pontiac, Mich.

Georgia Revolution (NPSL) 1, Mississippi Brilla FC (PDL) 0 (OT): RYSA Soccerplex; Conyers, Ga.

Brooklyn Italians (NPSL) 3, GPS Portland Phoenix (PDL) 2: Memorial Field, Deering High School; Portland, Maine

Chicago Fire PDL (PDL) 1, Croatian Eagles (USASA) 0: Toyota Park Practice Field; Bridgeview, Ill.

Des Moines Menace (PDL) 3, Milwaukee Bavarians (NPSL) 1 (OT): Bavarian Soccer Park; Glendale, Wis.

Laredo Heat (PDL) 4, ASC New Stars (USASA) 2 (OT): Texas A&M International University; Laredo, Texas.

K.C. Athletics (USASA) 3, Real Colorado Foxes (PDL) 1: Colorado School of Mines Soccer Stadium; Golden, Colo.

El Paso Patriots (PDL) 3, NTX Rayados (USASA) 1: Patriots Stadium; El Paso, Texas.

Fresno Fuego (PDL) 2, Stanislaus United Turlock Express (US Club Soccer) 0: Academica Fields; Turlock, Calif.

PSA Elite (USASA) 3, Portland Timbers U-23s (PDL) 1: JELD-WEN Field; Portland, Ore.

Cal FC (USASA) 3, Kitsap Pumas (PDL) 1: Bremerton Memorial Stadium; Bremerton, Wash.

Ventura County Fusion (PDL) 6, Fullerton Rangers (NPSL) 2 (OT): Santa Ana Bowl; Santa Ana, Calif.

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2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule (Per Round)
May 15: First Round
May 22: Second Round
May 29-30: Third Round
June 5: Fourth Round
June 26: Quarterfinals
July 10-11: Semifinals
Aug. 7 or 8: Final

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