- READ MORE: Lou City Join Seven MLS sides in Quarters
- READ MORE: Manotas sends Dynamo past MNUFC, into Quarters
- READ MORE: Bob Bradley & LAFC: #UpForTheCup
- READ MORE: Dynamo Memo & the Need to be Ready
- READ MORE: Holders SKC & Philadelphia Union through to Quarters
- READ MORE: Blanco Strike Sinks Galaxy; Sends Timbers to Last Eight
Trust Some Numbers, Not Others
(A huge crowd in Atlanta broke the all-time single-game Open Cup attendance record)
In soccer, the numbers don’t always tell the whole story…or the truth. 41,012 was the number of fans (an Open Cup record) that came out to support Atlanta United in their quest for glory – but four-time champs Chicago Fire won the day with guile and experience. Just under 2,000 fans turned up in Houston, but they all saw their young and lively Dynamo book passage to the Last Eight with a slim win over Minnesota United. Nashville SC, a first-year team out of USL, rode into Louisville on the back of eleven games without a defeat – but, and you guessed it, they lost. Philadelphia Union won against New York Red Bulls to reach the Quarterfinals and are now, technically and according to the official record, unbeaten in 12 Open Cup games (going back to the 2014 loss at home in the Final). But try and tell that to the nearly 15,000 home fans who turned up the year after - 2015 - to watch them “not-win” the Open Cup Final again on PKs in that same stadium (a loss on PKs doesn’t count as a loss the same way a win in PKs doesn’t count as a win). So, sometimes a win isn’t a win and a loss isn’t a loss – where’s your equation for that?
But here’s a stat we should always trust and thank our lucky stars for: The eight Round of 16 games produced more than 2.5 goals apiece – 21 in all. Not one contest finished tangled at 0-0, leaving only one so far in the competition marring the record book (shame on you FC Cincinnati and Minnesota United).
Happy B-Day, Dylan Wolpers
Croizet Goes Salloi One Better
(Louisville City of the USL are the lone remaining team not from Major League Soccer - MLS)
Last year Daniel Salloi was just another fresh face from Sporting Kansas City’s elite academy. But when he was thrown into the mix in the Open Cup, he blossomed and scored three goals (including the winner in the Final). And he’s keeping up the form with two more goals so far this year to take his career Open Cup tally to five. His brace in the Round of 16 win over FC Dallas makes him only the second player in the team’s history to bag two goals in a Cup game. All of that should have been enough to make Salloi the undisputed star of the contest, but a Frenchman by the name of Yohan Croizet stole the show in the dying moments. His volley, after the ball looped up high and into the air, hit the top corner with such pace, placement and importance that it will live on Open Cup lore.
Raining & Pouring in Maryland
The game was just seconds old when the weather horn sounded at the Maryland SoccerPlex, a wide-open sporting facility in suburban Maryland. Lightning struck in the area and fans and players were instructed to head to their cars and locker rooms respectively. In an age of incessant Social Media connectedness, D.C. United supporters made the most of it. They took pics in their cars and posted them under #RainDelaySelfies. Some of them streamed the Louisville City-Nashville SC Open Cup game on their phones while hunkered down. They turned a dreary moment into something tolerable and maybe even a little fun. The fans were rewarded with a pair of goals within ten minutes of the restart, and the game, extended already by the rain, went on forever – through extra-time and PKs. In the end, the home D.C. United fans felt the sting of defeat again, losing out to Orlando City and ending a Cup run while their team sits dead last in MLS’ Eastern Conference. Ah well - some days when it rains, it pours.
Latif Blessing – Open Cup’s Little Big Man
Fresh Blood in the Mix
(Philadelphia Union - losing Finalists in 2014 & 2015 - knocked out last year's runners-up New York Red Bulls)
There’s something happening here. Of the eight teams still alive at the Quarterfinal stage, six have never lifted an Open Cup. Only two former champions are still in with a shout – holders Sporting Kansas City and four-time winners Chicago Fire. All the rest are either clubs new to the scene (LAFC) or have never lifted the trophy that comes with winning America’s oldest soccer tournament (Portland Timbers, lone USL survivors Louisville City, Houston Dynamo, Philadelphia Union and Orlando City). And with four non-winners meeting head-to-head in the Quarters, there will be (at least) two new boys in the Semifinals. We might well be engraving a new name on the base of the Dewar Cup this year.
A Fond Farewell
As ever, we must say goodbye to some we’ve come to care for over the course of these five exhilarating rounds. Nashville SC and your band of merry supporters, the Roadies, we thank your for opening your doors to us and lighting up the tournament. Sacramento Republic, for a second straight year, you stretched a top-flight opponent and were minutes away from the Quarters. Atlanta United, it will be hard to forget your huge crowd that will live on in the record books for a good while. And to all the rest, like 2016 champs FC Dallas who had the bum-luck of meeting SKC twice in as many years, we hope to see you again soon.