CHICAGO (Tuesday, July 20, 2004) - The A-League rolled through the fourth round of 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night with three wins in four matches versus opponents representing Major League Soccer on a night that saw the Charleston Battery, Minnesota Thunder and Rochester Raging Rhinos - the tournament's 1999 champion - advance to the tournament quarterfinals. Those three teams join four MLS teams in the final eight, as the Kansas City Wizards and former champions the Chicago Fire (1998, 2000 & 2003) and Dallas Burn (1997) each advanced with wins on Tuesday (joining the San Jose Earthquakes, who advanced with a win last week). The eighth and final quarterfinal spot will be settled Wednesday night in another A-League vs. MLS showdown when the 1995 champion Richmond Kickers host 1996 titlists D.C. United.
With at least three A-League teams in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1999, a Wednesday night victory by Richmond would mark the first time since MLS joined the Open Cup competition in 1996 that four teams from the United Soccer Leagues have qualified for the tournament quarterfinals.
In the night's most thrilling match-up, the 1999 Open Cup champion Rochester Raging Rhinos scored a second-half goal on the road in Massachusetts, and eventually eliminated New England on penalty kicks with a 3-1 advantage following their 1-1 draw. The other A-League victories were no less dramatic with the Minnesota Thunder stunning the 2001 Open Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy with a 1-0 win at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Thunder's lone goal came in the 22nd minute from Chris Brunt. The final A-League triumph saw the Charleston Battery upend the MetroStars 1-0 on a 49th minute strike from Steve Klein.
In the one of two MLS match-ups on the night, the Dallas Burn easily dispatched the Colorado Rapids with a 3-0 win at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Burn were led by two goals from Eddie Johnson and a Ronnie O'Brien strike. In the other MLS vs. MLS meeting, the Chicago Fire came from behind on the road to down the Columbus Crew 2-1 in overtime on the strength of two Damani Ralph goals.
The only MLS victory over the A-League on Tuesday night came in convincing fashion from the Kansas City Wizards, registering an authoratative 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks in Clarkston, Ga. Davy Arnaud scored twice to pace the Wizards.
At stake in the tournament is $180,000 in prize money broken down as follows: $100,000 to the champion, $50,000 to the runner up and $10,000 to the team which advances deepest in the tournament from each of the Division II, Division III and amateur levels. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation’s National Championship, is an annual competition dating back to 1914 that is open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. It is the oldest annual team tournament in U.S. sports history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.
Round Four Results/Remaining Schedule