CHICAGO (July 8, 2009) — In a tournament that saw half the MLS teams dispatched in their opening games in the third round, it seemed like this might be the year of the underdog in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. With three victories against USL squads on Tuesday night, however, MLS squads illustrated their strength and will now make up three of the final four teams in the tournament.
Defending champion D.C. United (MLS) remains strong, as they defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders, a USL-2 team, by a score of 2-1. Boyzzz Khumalo opened the game with a goal in the eighth minute, seemingly sending the hosts down an easy road to the semifinals. With Devon McTavish sending in a strong cross from the right flank, Khumalo did well to get his head on it with a lunging finish that easily beat Harrisburg goalkeeper Chase Harrison. In the 18th minute, D.C. doubled its lead with a header from Andrew Jacobson off a corner kick from Fred. All seemed well for the reigning champions at the break, but Harrisburg was determined to come back with a fight in the second half. Mo Odour earned a straight red card that put the Islanders down a man with 40 minutes left to play, but Nicki Paterson forged ahead and produced a goal in the 64th minute, giving hope to the visitors. The score gave renewed life to Harrisburg, and they created a number of chances in the remaining minutes of the game despite being down a man. In the end it wasn’t enough, as D.C. United advanced to take on the Rochester Rhinos in the semifinals.
Rochester (USL-1) advanced by virtue of their 2-1 victory against the Wilmington Hammerheads (USL-2) in a battle of USL squads that would turn out to produce the only non-MLS team in the semifinals. Scoreless at the half, both teams adjusted in the break and came out firing to open the final 45 minutes. Wilmington cleared a ball off the line in the 48th minute, but six minutes later, Rochester’s Tai Atieno found the back of the net with a header from six yards. Mike Ambersely not only assisted on the goal, but also was instrumental in the game winning goal as well by drawing a penalty in the 64th minute. Andrew Gregor coolly put it into the corner, giving the Rhinos a 2-0 lead they would not relinquish despite an inspired Wilmington side that attacked in full force after Jamie Watson struck in the 77th minute to cut the lead in half.
In South Carolina, the Houston Dynamo (MLS) faced the Charleston Battery (USL-1), the club that has eliminated Houston from the Open Cup each of the past two years, with both of those losses coming in Blackbaud Stadium. But any worries of another defeat were quelled in the 16th minute when Geoff Cameron scored for Houston off a corner kick from John Michael Hayden. While Charleston went into the half down only 1-0, hopes of a comeback were soon deflated in the 47th minute as Bobby Boswell knocked in another goal off a set piece, this time a free kick from Hayden. The MLS side put the game on ice with another goal in the 52nd minute from Dominic Oduro before Cameron got his second goal of the night in the 73rd minute to ensure a place in the semifinals for the visitors.
A tightly played affair in the Pacific Northwest saw two MLS sides bringing out the best in each other before the Seattle Sounders defeated the Kansas City Wizards with a penalty kick in the 89th minute. Despite numerous chances in the first half the game was scoreless, in part due to the work of goalkeepers Kasey Keller for Seattle and Kevin Hartman for the Wizards. The Sounders found their magic by bringing on Sebastien Le Toux in the 70th minute, eventually creating a goal when Fredy Montero was taken down in the penalty box by Kevin Hartman. Le Toux stepped up for the hosts and delivered, sending the Sounders into the semifinals in their first year as an MLS side in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Additionally, by winning last night, Rochester has won the $10,000 prize money for the Division II team that advanced the furthest, while Wilmington has won the Division III prize money by virtue of a tie-breaker against the Harrisburg City Islanders (both Wilmington and Harrisburg had regulation victories against an MLS club, while the Hammerheads also drew a Division II team). Previously, the Ocean City Barons (PDL) clinched the Amateur Division prize.
Semifinal play kicks off on July 21, as Rochester will travel to face D.C. United and Houston will visit Seattle, before the tournament takes a break until the championship match on Sept 2.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal Results
|July 7||Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-2) at D.C. United (MLS)||
|Maryland Soccerplex; Boyds, Md.|
|July 7||Wilmington Hammerheads (USL-2) at Rochester Rhinos (USL-1)||1-2||Marina Auto Stadium; Rochester, N.Y.|
|Houston Dynamo (MLS) at Charleston Battery (USL-1)||4-0||Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C.|
|July 7||Kansas City Wizards (MLS) at Seattle Sounders (MLS)||0-1||Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.|
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal Pairings
|July 21||Rochester Rhinos (USL-1) at D.C. United (MLS)||7:30 p.m. ET||Maryland Soccerplex; Boyds, Md.|
|July 21||Houston Dynamo (MLS) at Seattle Sounders (MLS)||7 p.m. PT||Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.|
2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule
July 21 Semifinals Quarterfinal winners
Sept. 2 Final Semifinal winners