CHICAGO (May 24, 2023) – Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Birmingham Legion, the last pair of Division II clubs remaining in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, took advantage of hosting their Round of 16 matches to score 1-0 Cupsets against Columbus Crew and Charlotte FC respectively. The USL Championship duo were joined by MLS clubs Chicago Fire FC and Real Salt Lake after the Division I teams also emerged victorious in their quest to claim U.S. Soccer’s national championship.
The night’s action began in Pittsburgh where a club-record crowd of 6,107 turned out to cheer on the Riverhounds, who rode Albert Dikwa's 22nd minute goal into a Northeast Quarterfinal matchup against FC Cincinnati.
Birmingham picked up the Cupset baton and finished strong. Before a club-record crowd of their own (12,722), the Legion capitalized on their man advantage for the final 40 minutes to become the first team from Alabama to reach the tournament Quarterfinals. While the Riverhounds will travel to face Cincinnati, the Legion will have the luxury of home cooking when they host Inter Miami CF in the next round.
Four-time Open Cup winners Chicago Fire FC kept their dream of a modern-era record five Open Cup titles alive with a professional 2-0 road win against Austin FC and will now host another Lone Star club, Houston Dynamo, with a ticket to the Semifinals on the line. The Chicago club have won the Open Cup four times - 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
RSL closed out the evening and the round with a well-earned 1-0 win in a mile-high duel with the Colorado Rapids, the club’s first Open Cup win against their Rocky Mountain rivals in three all-time tournament meetings. Real Salt Lake will return home to host the LA Galaxy in their first Open Cup Quarterfinal since 2015 (when the club reached the Semis).
The 2023 U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals are scheduled to be played June 6-7. Full details will be announced soon.
U.S. OPEN CUP ROUND OF 16 RECAPS
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USLC) 1, Columbus Crew (MLS) 0
The Riverhounds pulled off another Cupset of an MLS side behind Albert Dikwa's goal and a stout defense, as they reached the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2001, before a record crowd of 6,107 at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Pittsburgh, which eliminated the New England Revolution in the Round of 32, was forced to play the final two minutes of stoppage time a man down after forward Edward Kizza was red carded for leveling Sean Zawadzki four minutes into injury time.
Columbus enjoyed a 75 percent possession advantage. The Crew, however, could not solve a backline and team known for its defensive prowess under veteran head coach Bob Lilley, as the Riverhounds limited the visitors to only a handful of opportunities. Jamaican international goalkeeper Jahmali Waite produced three saves en route to Pittsburgh's third consecutive Open Cup shutout. His most important save came in the 52nd minute as he parried away Thomas Roberts’ 19-yard drive for a corner kick.
Dikwa gave the Hounds all the scoring they needed in the 22nd minute. The 25-year-old forward ran onto a through ball by Robbie Mertz before burying a 15-yard shot into the lower right corner past veteran goalkeeper Evan Bush. Dikwa, who leads the USL Championship with nine goals, did not see the end of the match, as he was forced to leave with a leg injury that he suffered in the 55th minute. Kenardo Forbes replaced the Cameroonian two minutes later.
During the waning moments of the match, the Riverhounds earned three corner kicks. Instead of sending the ball into the box, Pittsburgh took two short corners to take some time off the clock. On one of those corners, Danny Griffin maneuvered himself to fire a nine-yard shot that Busch knocked away for yet another corner as the Riverhounds salted the game away.
Birmingham Legion FC (USLC) 1, Charlotte FC (MLS) 0
“Live long, and ‘Prosper’” takes on a whole new meaning in the Open Cup.
Prosper Kasim scored the lone goal in the second half as Birmingham Legion FC defeated a Major League Soccer team for the first time in club history at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.
Charlotte FC failed to find the back of the net despite maintaining 64-percent possession in the first half, and played with 10 men after right back Adilson Malanda was issued a second yellow card and sent off in the 50th minute.
Legion FC unlocked Charlotte’s defense in the 60th minute with a nifty bit of interplay between Enzo Martinez and Juan Agudelo to put Kasim on the run.
Kasim, a 26-year-old Ghanaian international, did the rest with a touch to gain separation from a defender before sliding a left-footed shot past Charlotte goalkeeper Kristjan Kahlina.
The victory continues the deepest run in club history for Legion FC, which had not previously advanced past the Third Round in two previous tournament appearances.
Austin FC (MLS) 0, Chicago Fire FC (MLS) 2
Rafael Czichos scored in the opening half and Kacper Przybylko added another in the second half as the four-time Open Cup champion Fire reached the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2018 at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.
In a battle between two members of the Fire’s 1998 Open Cup championship side who are currently head coaches, Chicago's Frank Klopas bested Austin's Josh Wolff.
Verde goalkeeper Brad Stuver's big-time save on an onrushing Maren Haile-Selassie in the 26th minute led to Chicago's goal a minute later. Brian Gutierrez sent the ensuing corner kick into the right side of the box to Czichos, who looped a header into the far side of the net.
Przybylko gave the visitors a vital insurance goal in the 77th minute. Xherdan Shaqiri fired a shot from close range on the left side that Stuver saved. The ball bounded back to Shaqiri. Instead of shooting, Shaqir sent a short pass to Przybylko, who slotted the ball home with his left foot from seven yards for the two-goal advantage.
Austin kept pressing in the waning minutes, but Chicago keeper Spencer Richey had other thoughts. Richey, who finished with two saves, preserved his clean sheet by denying Ethan Finlay's header with his head, off Diego Fagundez's corner kick in the 84th minute. Two minutes later, Alexander Ring headed a shot that skimmed the crossbar but that was as close as the home side would come.
Colorado Rapids (MLS) 0, Real Salt Lake (MLS) 1
The Rocky Mountain Rivalry is all Real Salt Lake at the moment. Jefferson Savarino clipped a goal in the first half of his Open Cup debut, and Gavin Beavers kept a clean sheet as RSL topped Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
Sam Nicholson hit the crossbar early, and Colorado had 64 percent of the possession in the match but produced only three shots on target as Salt Lake won for the second time in a week across all competitions.
Savarino’s goal, a well-placed shot over the outstretched hands of Rapids goalkeeper Marko Ilic, came off a turnover and against the run of play in the 30th minute.
Meikel Chang’s header hit the post late in a bid for an insurance goal but it wasn’t necessary as RSL’s defense held firm through more than seven minutes of second-half stoppage time.