Fans of the 105-year-old Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup live by its magic moments. And the Fourth Round of the 2018 competition tossed up a good few of those on June 5 and 6. Join ussoccer.com for a look back at eight moments of note from the 16 games, in which Stefano Pinho scored the same old way (in a new shirt), Nemanja Nikolic felt every emotion a scorer could feel and a trio of USL Cupsetters had their say.
- READ MORE: Three Cupsets Highlight #USOC2018 Fourth Round
- READ MORE: Round of 16 Draw Sets Eight Scorchers
The Kids are All Right
Youth was served in the Fourth Round as many a Major League Soccer side chose to blood some young horses in the heat of Cup play. At 15 years and 157 days-old, Joseph Scally became the youngest player to yet debut for New York City FC - but his youthful vim and vigor couldn’t keep his side from tumbling at the first hurdle for a fourth straight year. Sporting Kansas City’s youngsters fared better. Gianluca Busio became the four-time Cup-winning club’s youngest-ever player at 16 and he started beside two others under the age of 20 (Jaylin Lindsey and Wan Kuzain). Andrew Carleton, 17, of Powder Springs, Georgia, made the most of his playing time down south – scoring his first competitive goal in Atlanta United’s 3-0 rout of the Charleston Battery in Kennesaw.
(The Fabulous Besler Boys - Matt on the right & Nick on the left - went head to head in the Fourth Round)
A Creature of Habit
It always feels like déjà vu with Stefano Pinho. The Brazilian striker is an old-fashioned No. 9 who lives on the shoulder of the last defender – and he has a peculiar knack of slipping his man. He scored three goals against Orlando City last year for then-NASL strivers Miami FC – and they all looked pretty much identical, with this speedy, clever attacker popping up unmarked liked clockwork in front of goal. His performance so impressed the Orlando City decision-makes that they snatched him up shortly after. And wouldn’t you just know it, he went and scored another one in the same round this year (only this time for Orlando against a team from Miami – Miami United FC). Guess what it looked like…
Crunching Tackles & Numbers for Lou City
Defender Kyle Smith put in some hard minutes for Louisville City in their seesaw upset of New England Revolution. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be putting in about 15 or so more hours this week at his other job – as a part-time accountant. The 25-year-old paid $90 to enter into an open try-out with the club in 2016 and he made the cut. But that doesn’t mean he’s done dealing with 10W40s and Schedule Cs. No sir. He’s played nearly every minute for Lou City (Cup and league) so far this season and when he passes his exam, he’s likely to be number-one in the rankings for coolest CPA in the USL and the state of Kentucky. But for now, he’s got to focus on a Round of 16 contest against fellow USLers Nashville SC later this month.
(Nashville SC of USL beat MLS' Colorado Rapids for one of the round's trio of Cupsets)
Niko’s Up-And-Down-And-Up-And-Down Night
No one felt the ebb-and-flow of the Columbus Crew-Chicago Fire Fourth Rounder more than Nemanja Nikolic. He hit the post, scored twice and looked to be the hero on the night with the clock ticking down in extra-time and his Fire up 2-1. But that all changed with seconds to go when he inadvertently helped the ball into his own net and sent the game to a penalty shootout. First up for his team at the spot, his miss looked likely to turn him from hero to goat in a twist crueler than his performance deserved. But a marathon PK session ensued and after 22 kicks (most ever taken in a game involving MLS teams since the league’s founding in 1996) his own goalkeeper, Richard Sanchez spared Niko’s blushes and sent the Fire through to the Round of 16. A busy man on an up-and-down night, no one breathed a bigger sigh of relief than the Hungarian international goal-getter.
All in the Family in Open Cup
You’ll never meet a more down-to-earth pro athlete than Matt Besler – heck, you’re unlikely to ever meet a nicer guy. But that didn’t mean the U.S. Men’s National Team centre-back pumped the brakes when up against his younger brother Nick on Wednesday. They grew up together, played soccer together and got into trouble together, but this is the Open Cup. And while we’re sure Besler the Elder is among the world’s best big brothers, he offered Nick – younger by six years and called up from Real Monarchs of USL to play for their MLS affiliate Real Salt Lake in the Fourth Round – no quarter en route to a 2-0 win. It’s not the first time in these 2018 finals that brothers have gone head-to-head. Abdoukarim Danso, goalkeeper for Yonkers-based amateurs Lansdowne Bhoys, went up against his older brother Futty Danso of North Carolina FC. And while we’re on the topic of family ties, Ariel Lassiter of LA Galaxy made his father Roy – a former MLS top-scorer – proud with a pair of goals, and Papa John Harkes surely had an attaboy or two for his son, Ian after he scored another Open Cup goal for his dad’s old club D.C. United. And rounding out this Fourth Round family affair, Jose Burciaga jr., now 36 and playing for amateurs NTX Rayados after a successful MLS career, shared a locker-room and the field of play with his own nephew.
(Louisville City of USL got the job done in an up-down affair against MLS' New England Revolution)
Goals Galore & a Bone to Pick
It’s hard to be mad at FC Cincinnati after all the joy they brought on their Cinderella run to the Open Cup Semifinals last year. And OK, Minnesota FC, we’re happy you bounced back from last year’s 4-0 loss in your Open Cup inaugural. But, we still have a bone to pick. You guys handed us the only goalless draw so far in the 2018 Open Cup. A full 81 games before you – over 8,000 minutes of soccer – and no zero-zero draws. We’ll get over it, but we needed to say something. Luckily the other teams in action stepped up, and on the gas, with 47 goals in the other 15 Fourth Round games. That’s close to three goals per contest and proof, if any was needed, that the Open Cup gives you the most goal for your buck.
A Trio of Cupsetters
There’s always a few who just don’t know their place. This year it’s the second-division USL trio of Nashville SC, Sacramento Republic and Louisville City. The Kentuckians were inspired and inspiring in their back-and-forth 3-2 win over 2007 champs New England Revolution. Even the die-hard among Revs fans would have to admit that Lou City were the better team on the day – and a pair of goals from Cameron Lancaster and Brian Ownby will rank among the best of this year’s competition. Sacramento Republic are making a habit of advancing in the tournament, and they find themselves once again in the Round of 16 alongside the men from Nashville who’ve come a good distance in their first-ever foray into the Open Cup. And there’s better news still: at least one of these three underdogs from the second tier will still be with us in the Quarterfinals as Nashville travel to Louisville to take on their USL league mates in the Round of 16.
(Lightning didn't strike twice for 2017 Semifinalists FC Cincinnati - who lost out on PKs to Minnesota United)
A Fond Farewell for the Fallen
As always, and with heavy heart, we must say goodbye to some we’ve come to care for. NTX Rayados, you school teachers and college kids – you Sunday-league all-stars, we thank you for your talent and your fight and for showing us what love of the game is all about. FC Golden State Force of the Premier Development League (PDL), you well earned your 25,000-dollar prize for going farthest among the amateurs – and the LA Galaxy won’t soon forget the way you bossed that second half in SoCal. Miami United FC, you flew your flag for SoFla with pride and panache and we salute you. FC Cincinnati – this may be hardest of all – we’ll miss you and The Bailey and all the noise and fun of it. But the beauty of this 105-year-old tournament is that every ending is a new beginning – and we hope to see you all again sooner rather than later.