Fans of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup live by its magic moments. And the Second Round of the competition, now in its 104th year, tossed up a good few of those between May 16 and 17. Join ussoccer.com for a look back at eight moments of note in the 26 games of the Second Round, where giants tumbled, mice roared and history was made.
- READ MORE: Four Cupsets in #USOC2017 Second Round
Second-Round upsets are what we all wait for and what the Open Cup, like a generous benefactor, always provides. Amateur sides Michigan Bucks, Chicago FC United, Reading United AC and Christos FC, who have their club headquarters in a liquor store on the outskirts of Baltimore, knocked off full professionals and are all now one win away from a date with the big boys of Major League Soccer in the Fourth Round.
The Baltimore men’s 1-0 win over Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League (USL) was among the biggest upsets in recent years. “We hardly ever have the same starting XI two weeks in a row,” midfielder Daniel Baxter said. “Some guys work weekends and others weekdays. A lot of us work nights and others work evenings or mornings,” added Baxter, an X-Ray Tech, a radiologist to be more precise, who admits to seeing “crazy stuff” on the night shift at Mercy Hospital. Baxter was all over the pitch in Richmond, a buzzing speedy dynamo, better on the day than the ones paid to play.
Battery’s Cuban brigade
Charleston Battery, out of South Carolina, are one of the oldest continually operating pro soccer clubs in America. Playing in the old A-League when it was the top-flight, they’ve spent the vast majority of their 23 years just below MLS in the USL. They’re a club always on the lookout for talent, and good bargains. They got a package deal in 2013 when three Cubans, Goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, midfielder Maikel Chang and striker Heviel Cordoves, defected while on international duty in Canada. They now bring a little Latin flair to a side that made light work of the Atlanta Silverbacks in the Second Round. The Battery face Jacksonville Armada of the NASL in the Third Round in hopes of replicating their Open Cup run of 1998, where they went to the final.
Omens work hard, play hard & play hard
“We’re from the white-collar professional world of Boston,” GPS Omens captain Greg Zuboff told ussoccer.com recently about his amateur men’s league side, who’ve won twice in the 2017 Open Cup to set up a Third Round date in Rochester against the 1999 champion Rhinos. White-collar jobs often require travel and striker Keith Caldwell, top scorer last season in the local Bay State Soccer League (BSL), had a window of approximately one hour to get off his plane from Atlanta, through East Boston in rush-hour traffic and over to Revere’s Harry Della Russo Stadium for the Second Round Game with PDL outfit Boston City FC. He arrived just in time to score and make his mom, who watched up in the stands, a proud parent. It was his second goal of the tournament and Caldwell is now one win away from playing his younger brother, Scott Caldwell of the New England Revolution, in a Fourth Round game that might prove tricky for mom. One thing is certain: GPS Omens earned the tequila shots and beers they downed after beating BCFC 2-1. Here’s hoping they all made it to work in the morning!
What’s the opposite of a Cupset?
Louisville City FC of United Soccer League (USL) were in no mood for the romance of the Open Cup. They traveled to Pittsburgh and put a hammering on self-proclaimed “hard-nosed pub-side” Tartan Devils Oak Avalon. It was 9-0 at the end, a performance coach James O’Connor, an Irishman who scored 22 goals in England’s FA Cup, called “very professional.” That’s one way to put it. And in perfect response from the local amateurs, an official club tweet went out: “Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug.” Even in heavy, heavy defeat, the Tartan Devils and their fans had a ripping good time after the final whistle at Pipers Pub, where the club was formed – around a table, over beers and among friends – in 2008.
Rowdies get going early
Tampa Bay Rowdies, once of NASL and now of USL, had to wait only three minutes for their first 2017 Open Cup goal. But it wasn’t without controversy and forceful protests from the Jacksonville Armada U-23 back-line. Canadian international winger Kyle Porter – the Pride of Mississauga – had no options out wide on the line and about ten yards across the midfield stripe. He was stranded. Why not go for goal, the voice that whispers silly things whispered in his ear. So he did. Armada goalkeeper Juanes Fajardo looked to have kept it out after back-pedaling hard, but the officials at Al Lang Stadium – once a baseball park that hosted MLB Spring Training games – disagreed. Frankly, no one was in a very good position to confirm or dispute the call. And, sadly, goal-line technology has yet to arrive in the Open Cup’s early rounds.
Goals in bunches
Some Cup games drag on and on. Nothing happens. The players cancel each other out and settle into a comfortable barrenness. Penalties hover like vultures and you know, just know in your heart, no goals will come. But sometimes, they fall from the sky like summer rain. That happened in North Carolina when Ryan Williams and Kelvin Omondi scored twice in two minutes for Charlotte Eagles, with virtually the identical move. And in Oklahoma City, OKC Energy lived up to their name with four goals in five minutes – Alex Dixon, Wojciech Wojcik, Andy Craven and Miguel Gonzalez all hit the mark in a great big hurry. In all, we can have no complaints. 100 goals were scored in 26 Second Round games, with only one finishing 0-0 before getting settled on penalties.
Bucks got it on the inside
The atmosphere at a Michigan Bucks games is peculiar. No birds chirp. No 16-wheelers rattle past, jostling their cargos. There are no train whistles or car horns. The amateur Bucks, of Pontiac Michigan, who have a date with Saint Louis FC after beating NASL side Indy Eleven, have played both of their games so far at home in a large indoor facility, Ultimate Soccer Arenas. One of the largest fully enclosed full-size soccer arenas in America, the facility famously played host to the amateur side’s 3-2 upset of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire in the Third Round of the 2012 tournament and has continued to provide the perennial PDL power with an interesting home-field advantage.
Cupsets go both ways
The big fat Cupsets we know and love aren’t only about the winner. Who you beat in a Cupset is a crucial factor in the underdog-bites-back equation. So here, with heavy heart, we list the Cupset losers from the 2017 Open Cup’s Second Round. New York Cosmos, three-time Soccer Bowl winners in the latest iteration of the NASL – the club where Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto brought the world’s game to an indifferent nation, lost 3-2 to Reading United – a team of teenage amateurs. Christos FC beat USL’s Richmond Kickers, who have been operating as a professional club for the last 24 years and won the Open Cup in 1995. Michigan Bucks beat Indy Eleven, who finished second in last year’s NASL table. And not to be outdone, Chicago FC United – local amateurs from in and around the Windy City – knocked out Pittsburgh Riverhounds, who didn’t do much of note last year but all get paid to play the game.