It was yet another night of high drama in the US Open Cup as the final seven matches kicked off on Wednesday May 29, with the winners from each match staring at a final 16 spot and a shot at glory.
Five of our region III sides had progressed the previous night and with a further five in action, expectations were high that a cup winner could be coming from this corner of the country.
Tuesday night had seen the USL Pro sides dominate where NASL suffered at the hands of the MLS teams. Wednesday was to show the flip side to that coin as the NASL sides left triumphant whilst the nights USL Pro sides were to flounder.
Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) welcomed Chicago Fire from the MLS to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC but it was end with the home side dropping from the tournament after the Fire dominated the game, leaving eventual 2-0 winners.
A goal in each half was enough for the visitors to progress but Charlotte can hold their heads high after putting up a spirited fight but it’s Chicago who go on to meet Columbus Crew (MLS) on June 12.
Next up was the turn of NASL side Carolina Railhawks, who faced the might of MLS champions LA Galaxy at WakeMed Soccer Park in front of a record breaking 8121 fans.
The majority of them were not to be disappointed as for the second consecutive year, the NASL side dumped the Galaxy from the USOC with goals on 59 and 61 minutes from da Luz and Shrive respectively.
The win sees the Railhawks now look forward to another home tie on June 12 against another Californian MLS side, this time in the form of Chivas in an exact carbon copy of last years fourth round tie at the same stadium. The Railhawks will be hoping for a better outcome this time around after losing to an extra time penalty in last years competition to put them out of the tournament.
RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke said, “The boys were focused all week. We are still disappointed we didn’t go further last year. This Cup means a whole lot to me, the team, and the organization. It’s the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and as someone who worked for Mr. Hunt, and our President worked for Mr. Hunt, this is a very important tournament for us.”
Tampa Bay Rowdies were next to take on another MLS side, with Seattle Sounders being the visitors to Al Lang Stadium in St Petersburg.
An impressive 4124 supporters turned out to see the NASL side overcome the three time Lamar Hunt USOC winners but they had to wait until 16 minutes prior to the end for the only goal to come that continued the dream of the Florida side in their quest for silverware.
Georgi Hristov scored that all important goal but the excitement was retained for that occasion alone.
Near the end of the match, Seattle were awarded a penalty that was spectacularly saved by Restrepo in goal for the Rowdies after Jordan Gafa had been red carded for a stramash in the box previously.
Tampa played out the final few minutes with just the ten men under extreme pressure but held on for the win and now move to the June 12 matche against MLS side Portland Timbers, although this time they will be on the road but safe in the knowledge that they are still in the final 16 and in with a chance of further progression.
Houston Dynamo had the perceived easier route to the last 16 with a tie against fourth division USL PDL side FC Tucson.
In a less than impressive display, the Dynamo did run out 2-0 winners over the battling Tucson side and with the victory came the emergence of the Texas derby ‘El Capitan’ against FC Dallas.
Alex Dixon and Giles Barnes scored the goals on 26 and 72 minutes to secure the win and knock out the PDL side whose first trip in the USOC had proved a well deserved and history making journey for their side.
Dynamo will be hoping to avenge the March defeat at the hands of their old rivals but Dallas are flying high in the MLS and will take home advantage into this interesting match up on June 12.
Wilmington Hammerheads were to suffer the joint biggest defeat of the round with a 5-1 defeat at the hands of MLS side Portland Timbers.
The USL Pro side were cut down rather unceremoniously as Frederic Piquionne scored four goals for the home side all inside the opening 45 minutes in front of 10924 at JELD-WEN Field.
Wilmington’s consolation goal came from an overhead kick by Paul Nicholson on 61 minutes but Portland added another from Danso on 73 minutes to round off a dismal night for the Hammerheads.
The MLS side now host Tampa Bay Rowdies on June 12, here’s hoping for a better outcome for region III come that day.
Full results roundup:
Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) 0-2 Chicago Fire (MLS)
Carolina Railhawks (NASL) 2-0 LA Galaxy (MLS)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) 1-0 Seattle Sounders (MLS)
Houston Dynamo (MLS) 2-0 FC Tucson (USL PDL)
Portland Timbers (MLS) 5-1 Wilmington Hammerheads (USL Pro)
Round of 16 schedule (June 12, 2013)
Carolina Railhawks (NASL) v Chivas USA (MLS)
Sporting KC (MLS) v Orlando City (USL Pro)
FC Dallas (MLS) v Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Real Salt Lake (MLS) v Charleston Battery (USL Pro)
Portland Timbers (MLS) v Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)
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