- FOURTH ROUND - Match Center
- WATCH/READ: Miami United - SoFla's Fresh Hope
- MORE: Gr8 Eight Rd III: Missing Llamas, Long Rangers & a Sweet Sixteen
- MORE: Charleston's Battery's Mike Anhaeuser: "It Can Done"
- MORE: FC Golden State & Faramilio Force the Issue
- MORE: Hometown Trio Shines a Spotlight on San Antonio
- REWIND: 'Lightning in a Bottle' - The '95 Richmond Kickers
Three Cinderellas Remain
Of the 97 teams that began the 2018 U.S. Open Cup, three amateur teams are still alive and kicking and chasing a dream: SoCal club FC Golden State Force, out of the Premier Development League (PDL), Miami United FC of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and Dallas open division qualifiers NTX Rayados, who’ve captured the imagination with six wins, including three just to qualify for the Open Cup proper, so far in this edition of the competition.
(Brazilian Allisson Faramilio was the hero for PDL side FC Golden State Force in the last round)
FC Golden State Force began life three years ago, an outgrowth of the Golden State Soccer academy that fields over a hundred youth teams throughout California. A pair of goals from Allisson Faramilio – a 30-year-old Brazilian striker who’s lined up for pro teams in South Korea, Albania and Iraq – was enough to see the upstarts past full pros Las Vegas Lights (USL) in the last round. They’re hoping for more magic this time out from their big man. “He’s got an impressive background and has played professionally on an international scale that our guys simply have not experienced,” said Alex Lujan, the Director of Football Operations at the Force, who bears previous Open Cup experience at PSA Elite. “He’s probably played at a higher level than a lot of the guys that we’ll face on the Galaxy [in the Fourth Round].”
The LA Galaxy, with a host of talent to choose from and a roster as star studded as you’d expect from the five-time MLS champs and two-time Open Cup winners, will have their say on Wednesday.
NTX Rayados arrived at their seventh straight Open Cup with little expectation after going out at the first hurdle in their previous six trips to American soccer’s oldest tournament. But with the help of an Open Cup and MLS Cup winner, Jose Burciaga Jr., formerly of Sporting Kansas City but born and raised in Dallas, and a core of talented players and young talents from the North Texas junior college scene, they’ve caught fire. The Rayados beat Fort Worth Vaqueros (NPSL), OKC Energy FC (USL) and FC Wichita (NPSL) en route to a date with Houston Dynamo on the road in the Fourth Round. “It’s like a dream come true,” said Mexico-born Victor Pinal, the middle school Spanish teacher who set up the winning goal in the last round against FC Wichita. Amateurs or not, they’ve scored ten goals in their three games so far and the Dynamo, back-to-back MLS champions in 2006 and 2007, would do well to expect a serious game.
(Miami United FC are the newest contender out of the Sunshine State and they booked a date with Orlando City of MLS)
The third member of the underdog trio is Miami United FC, the NPSL side looking to walk in Miami FC’s footsteps by making a long run in the 2018 Open Cup (Miami FC – then of NASL – advanced to the quarterfinals last year). A club for only six years, United have assembled a squad of top local and South American talent that will be more than a handful for Fourth Round opponents Orlando City SC of MLS. “We’re not afraid of anybody, and we play to win every time we come out,” said Miami United’s defiant captain Ezequiel Tejera of Argentina, who’s been with the club since it was founded in 2012. “We don’t care who’s in front of us, if we’re there then we have a chance.”
Nine of the 16 games on Tuesday and Wednesday are between second-division pros from the United Soccer League (USL) and the top-tier men from Major League Soccer (MLS).
Philadelphia Union (MLS), who went to the Final of the Open Cup in 2014 and 2015, host 1995 champions Richmond Kickers (USL) in Chester, Pennsylvania in their first game of the tournament. The Kickers are led by long-serving coach Leigh Cowlishaw – a member of that Cup winning side from the mid-90s. He’s more than made up for an early exit last year to Baltimore amateurs Christos FC with a shootout win over a lively Reading United (PDL) and a 3-2 victory over fellow USL men Penn FC that was capped by a fine team goal, which included a ten-pass sequence in the build-up.
(The Richmond Kickers are keeping a proud Open Cup tradition alive after winning it in 1995)
D.C. United (MLS), three-time winners of the Open Cup, host North Carolina FC (USL) at the intimate Maryland SoccerPlex. United are propping up the Eastern Division standings of Major League Soccer with just nine points from ten games so far, and they’ll want to get some momentum and positive vibes out of the Cup. But NCFC, with their long-time Irish coach Colin Clarke at the helm, have been in fine form so far in the competition, looking every inch the pros they are in simple wins over Yonkers-based amateurs Lansdowne Bhoys and Ocean City Nor’easters of the PDL.
High-flying Louisville City (USL) open their doors for 2007 champs and twice runners-up New England Revolution (MLS), who are playing in the Open Cup for the first time under new coach Brad Friedel. The former Spurs and U.S. National Team goalkeeper – a recent inductee into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame – has his side humming (currently fourth in the MLS Eastern Conference) and we’ll know soon how much onus he’s putting on the Cup. He faces a tough test on the road in Kentucky as City sit second in the USL’s eastern group and breezed past Long Island Rough Riders of the PDL in the Second Round before ending Saint Louis FC’s Cup campaign with a slim 1-0 win.
Atlanta United (MLS) host Charleston Battery (USL) for the second year running in Kennesaw, Georgia and the Five Stripes will be hoping for a similar result to their 3-2 win last year in front of a crowd of close to 10,000 fans. The Battery are guided by long-time coach Mike Anhaeuser and they remain Open Cup legends for their long run in 2008 when they became the last non-MLS team to the reach the Final. Not far away, in Tennessee, Nashville SC (USL) host Colorado Rapids (MLS) in a game with a weird number of connections. The Nashvillians, in their first Open Cup, are coached by Gary Smith, who won MLS Cup as coach of the Rapids in 2010. Current Nashville SC Goalkeeper Matt Pickens and defender Kosuke Kimura were also a part of that 2010 champion Rapids side.
(Mike Anhaeuser has been leading the USL's Charleston Battery for 25 years)
All eyes will be on FC Cincinnati (USL) as they host Minnesota United FC (MLS) at their Nippert Stadium. Few can forget the huge crowds and stellar home form that saw the Ohioans storm through to the Semifinals last year, leaving MLS opponents Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire in the dust along the way. With nine changes to the team from last year, including the exit of hero goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrand and the arrival of former NCFC schemer Nazmi Albadawi, FCC – currently well in front at the top of the USL standings – will be stiff opposition for the men from Minnesota, who lost 4-0 to eventual champs Sporting Kansas City in their first Open Cup game last year.
San Antonio FC (USL) struggled against league rivals Colorado Springs Switchbacks, needing a penalty shootout to progress in the last round. But after a crucial 2-1 win over Portland Timbers 2 at the weekend in league play, they’ll have momentum – and a trio of homegrown players pulling the strings – when they host FC Dallas (MLS), twice champions of the Open Cup. “It’s been a dream for me,” said local-boy-done-good Ethan Bryant, who made his pro debut in the last round at the tender age of 16. “Now I’m getting my chance in the Cup and it’s been amazing.”
The first of two USL-MLS contests in California sees Los Angeles FC (MLS) play their first-ever U.S. Open Cup game against Fresno FC (USL) at the Banc of California Stadium in LA. A new club with flash, hype and panache, LAFC are expected to take aim at the Open Cup, hunting a major trophy in their first year as a club thanks to head coach Bob Bradley who won the competition with the Chicago Fire back in 1998 and 2000. The men from Fresno may have other ideas, especially with two-time MLS Cup winner (as coach) Frank Yallop pulling the strings (now as General Manager). Off the coast, Sacramento Republic (USL) open the doors of their Papa Murphy’s Park to four-time Cup winners Seattle Sounders FC, who’ve avoided eternal rivals Portland Timbers in their first game of the competition. SacRep raced through to the Round of 16 last year, but the Sounders have more than a little Open Cup pedigree to get past this time around.
No romance here. No underdogs, Cinderellas, Davids or Goliaths. Four games on Wednesday pit Major League Soccer sides in head-to-head competition. These usually end up being chess games, hinging on which players coaches choose and don’t choose to to use. One wrong move and it could be checkmate.
(Sporting Kansas City picked up their fourth Open Cup title last year, beating New York Red Bulls in the Final)
The tastiest game, on paper, is last year’s runners-up New York Red Bulls against NY Metro-area rivals New York City FC in a rematch from the same round of last year’s Open Cup. While the Red Bulls are in fine form in the league and tied for fourth in MLS’ Eastern Conference, NYCFC are flying even higher in second spot. Columbus Crew SC, Open Cup champs from 2002, host four-time champs Chicago Fire at their MAPFRE Stadium with both sides trying to find consistent form in league play.
Real Salt Lake, third in MLS’ Western Conference, have the unenviable task of hosting defending Open Cup champs Sporting Kansas City, who always have both eyes on adding another trophy to their case. Peter Vermes’ men are flying high in the league too, so the hosts in Rio Tinto Stadium will need to bring their A-game if they want to keep their 2018 Open Cup campaign from ending at the first hurdle. The all-MLS affairs finish with Portland Timbers – currently cruising in the Western Conference – hosting last year’s Open Cup semifinalists San Jose Earthquakes, who are eager to avenge last year’s disappointment at losing to SKC in a tense shootout.
Fourth Round - Match Center
|Date||Game (home team listed first)||Time||Venue|
|June 5||Philadelphia Union (MLS) vs. Richmond Kickers (USL)||7 p.m. ET||Talen Energy Stadium; Chester, Pa.|
|June 5||D.C. United (MLS) vs. North Carolina FC (USL)||7 p.m. ET||Maryland SoccerPlex; Boyds, Md.|
|June 5||Louisville City FC (USL) vs. New England Revolution (MLS)||7 p.m. ET||Lynn Stadium (Univ. of Louisville); Louisville, Ky.|
|June 6||Columbus Crew SC (MLS) vs. Chicago Fire (MLS)||7 p.m. ET||MAPFRE Stadium; Columbus, Ohio|
|June 6||New York Red Bulls (MLS) vs. New York City FC (MLS)||7:30 p.m. ET||Red Bull Arena; Harrison, N.J.|
|June 6||Miami United FC (NPSL) vs. Orlando City SC (MLS)||7:30 p.m. ET||Ted Hendricks Stadium; Hialeah, Fla.|
|June 6||Atlanta United FC (MLS) vs. Charleston Battery (USL)||7:30 p.m. ET||Fifth Third Bank Stadium (Kennesaw State Univ.); Kennesaw, Ga.|
|June 6||FC Cincinnati (USL) vs. Minnesota United FC (MLS)||7:30 p.m. ET||Nippert Stadium (Univ. of Cincinnati); Cincinnati, Ohio|
|June 6||Nashville SC (USL) vs. Colorado Rapids (MLS)||7:30 p.m. CT||Vanderbilt Stadium; Nashville, Tenn.|
|June 6||Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. NTX Rayados (Texas)||7:30 p.m. CT||BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas|
|June 6||San Antonio FC (USL) vs. FC Dallas (MLS)||7:30 p.m. CT||Toyota Field; San Antonio, Texas|
|June 6||Real Salt Lake (MLS) vs. Sporting Kansas City (MLS)||8 p.m. MT||Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah|
|June 6||Los Angeles FC (MLS) vs. Fresno FC (USL)||7 p.m. PT||Banc of California Stadium; Los Angeles, Calif.|
|June 6||LA Galaxy (MLS) vs. FC Golden State Force (PDL)||7:30 p.m. PT||StubHub Center Track & Field Staduim; Carson, Calif.|
|June 6||Portland Timbers (MLS) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)||7:30 p.m. PT||Providence Park; Portland, Ore.|
|June 6||Sacramento Republic FC (USL) vs. Seattle Sounders FC (MLS)||8 p.m. PT||Papa Murphy's Park; Sacramento, Calif.