The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is known for its magic moments. And the Quarterfinal round of the competition, now in its 104th year, tossed up a good few of those between July 10 and 13. Take a look back at eight moments of note from three games (and one biblical rain-out) where San Jose Earthquakes and New York Red Bulls took a step closer to their first Open Cup crown and Sporting Kansas City, and their perfect defense, cemented their status as title favorites.
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- MATCH REPORT: Wondo Spurs 'Quakes past LA Galaxy, Into Last Four
- MATCH REPORT: SCK Knock Holders FC Dallas Out of Open Cup
- VIDEO: FC Cincinnati: Home & Away
- VIDEO: Alessandro Nesta's New Home in Miami, #USOC2017
- RELEASE: SKC & Winner of Miami FC v. FC Cincinnati Quarterfinal to Host Open Cup Semifinal
- RELEASE: Miami FC v. FC Cincinnati Open Cup Quarterfinal Rescheduled for Aug. 2
Aye, Aye Captains
There was an awkward exchange at the pre-game coin toss of the San Jose Earthquakes - LA Galaxy Quarterfinal. LA’s captain Jelle Van Damme leaned in for a bro-hug that San Jose’s skipper Chris Wondolowski wasn’t prepared for, and only half-committed to. Just a few minutes later, with four gone on the clock, Van Damme nodded home from a Gio Dos Santos corner-kick. The Belgian big man, who loves nothing more than to play the heel, taunted the home fans at Avaya Stadium and channeled his best Gorgeous George. But soon after, the other captain had his say. Quakes legend Wondolowski – straight-laced foil to Van Damme’s cartoon villainy – was unerring with his finish. He slammed home low from outside the box, a rare long-ranger from this penalty box stalker, which led the way to a 3-2 win for San Jose in yet another Cali-Clasico where there was no love lost.
San Jose's Chris Wondolowski (left) and LA's Jelle Van Damme (center) speak with the referee during a break in play.
Photo credit: Aaron Morgan/Quakes Talk
The Way in San Jose
Sometimes a team just clicks in a Cup. That’s the way it’s been with San Jose who, far from flailing following the firing of coach Dominic Kinnear, are playing with pizzazz in the 2017 edition. Wondo’s got two goals – no surprise there. But the young guns are contributing beyond their years. Twenty-year-old Jackson Yueill scored four minutes into his first professional game back in the Fourth Round against SF Deltas, and Tommy Thompson, just 21, has been a vision of dynamism and acceleration through midfield, assisting on two goals in the win over the Galaxy. As if that’s not enough, Jahmir Hyka, known as the Albanian Messi, and Dutch import Danny Hoesen are pitching in that little bit of technical nous that make the Quakes so tricky. “Maybe you can tell we’re having a lot of fun out here,” Hyka told ussoccer.com. “Football’s easy when you keep the ball and enjoy yourself.”
SKC Play the Sub Game
Sporting Kansas City played most of regulation – 75 minutes in all – a man down after Seth Sinovic saw red for a professional foul in the marquee Quarterfinal against reigning title holders FC Dallas. But a clever chess move by coach Peter Vermes changed everything at the start of extra-time. Brazil-born creator Benny Feilhaber, just back from an ankle injury, jogged on the pitch and turned the game on its head. He assisted on two of the three goals Kansas City scored in the next 30 minutes and his cleverness led to a red card for Dallas’ Javier Morales that effectively ended the game by forcing the holders to play with nine. The final goal in the rout was scored by young Daniel Salloi, just 20, a recent arrival from Hungary. Salloi’s father watches all his son’s games – whether he plays or not – streamed live in Budapest. But Papa Salloi only wakes Mama Salloi when her boy enters the field. It was approximately 2:30 a.m. Hungary Time when Papa woke Mama, who we hope hadn’t dozed back off before seeing her boy score the third.
Opara: Up & Down
There was a terrifying moment in Kansas City’s Quarterfinal against Dallas when Maxi Urruti went up blindly for a bicycle-kick. He wasn’t to know that Sporting’s all-action center-back Ike Opara planned to throw his face in the way. When Urruti’s foot made contact with Opara’s skull, the defender was knocked out cold before he hit the ground. Urruti received a second yellow for the reckless play, but his first thought was for his fallen opponent, and fellow professional, Opara, who’s had his share of injuries in recent years including an Achilles tendon rupture that nearly ended his career. Urruti’s tears were heartfelt and his concern palpable. Opara’s thumbs-up when he was wheeled off on a gurney drew one of the biggest roars on a night marked by incident and excitement. We hope to see Opara out on the pitch as soon as he’s well – the Open Cup’s not the same without him.
Melia, Sporting’s Rock
Speaking of SKC’s impenetrable defense, let’s not forget to tip our cap to goalkeeper Tim Melia. A former MLS pool loanee who took his time locking down a starting spot in the top tier, he’s now among the cream of the league’s ‘keepers. His cat-like reflex save on Urruti in the dying moments of regular time rescued the game for the home team. Though he’s quick to deflect attention away from himself and toward the team in front of him, Melia’s hands-down the lynchpin of MLS’s best defense. He’s recorded eight shutouts in all competitions and has yet to concede a goal in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup. Not bad for a guy who’s paid more dues than most.
Weather, or Not…
One of the glorious things about the Open Cup is that you know you’ll have a winner on the day. All the players talk about it – win and move on or lose and go home. There’s one problem: It’s not always true! Sometimes, the weather alone wins out. That’s what happened in Miami when a biblical storm system, complete with thunder, lighting and torrential rains, swooped in off the seas and parked over Riccardo Silva Stadium on the evening of July 12, the same night FC Cincinnati (USL) were in town to play Miami FC (NASL) in one of the most anticipated Open Cup Quarterfinals of recent years. The winner would be the first team from outside Major League Soccer (MLS) to reach a Semifinal since 2011. But instead of a game, the home fans – and a couple hundred who traveled from Ohio – drank beer and palled around under the stands until the game was officially called. Good news, it’s been rescheduled. We’ll do it all over again in Miami on August 2. Fingers crossed for sunshine!
New England Revolution’s homegrown midfielder Diego Fagundez, with the club since he was 11, stood over the ball for a free-kick. Against New York Red Bulls at Harvard University, the ball was exactly where it was a few weeks earlier on that same Jordan Field when Fagundez curled it elegantly into the top corner against D.C. United. Before that game, the 22-year-old told teammate Chris Tierney that he was “going to score a free-kick today.” It was a prophecy, and it came true. This time, however, Fagundez stepped over as a decoy and let Tierney have a go. The ball hit the wall and deflected lazily away from danger. Maybe Tierney had a prophecy too, but it didn’t come true. It seemed to encapsulate the day for New England, who went down to ten men and gave up a late goal to lose – for the second time in eight days – to their big rivals from down the I-95 corridor.
BWP and the Killer Instinct
Bradley Wright-Phillips. The uttering of his name must sound like the worst part of a bad dream for opposition defenders. The 32-year-old English striker made a career out of prowling the penalty area like a predator, playing just off the shoulder of the last defender and hunting goals. The Red Bulls’ Quarterfinal was tangled at 0-0 and headed for extra-time against the Revolution. It was one of those nights when neither attacking line had much to do. It’s precisely that time when Wright-Phillips is most dangerous – when forgotten. With three minutes left in a feisty contest, he pointed his finger out in front of him after gaining an inch, maybe, on his marker. Felipe saw the slight gesture and sent the ball where it was requested. BWP held off his man and spun, all in one motion, toe-poking past the onrushing ‘keeper. It happened so fast and, like that, the game was over.