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USL assured spot in Open Cup final
by Ridge Mahoney, July 9th, 2008 7AM

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[U.S. OPEN CUP] If New England's reserves are barely good enough to beat a USL-2 team on penalty kicks, and a nearly-full strength FC Dallas squad gets worked by USL-1 Charleston, what does that say about the relative strengths of the first, second, and third tiers of American soccer?

Nothing, really, since U.S. Open Cup games routinely produce performances that vary wildly in polish and consistency. But an intriguing head-to-head meeting has been created by luck of the draw and run of results by which a lower-division team will meet an MLS foe in the final Aug. 26.

Charleston hosts Seattle at Blackbaud Stadium in a USL-1 semifinal, and bitter Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United and New England meet in the MLS showdown. Both semis are set for Aug. 12.

Keyed-up lower-division teams often take advantage of below-par MLS lineups, and even a first XI playing at home can be embarrassed. Such was the case at Pizza Hut Park, where FCD fell to Charleston, 3-1, in a game delayed by lightning and perhaps personified by Kenny Cooper's consolation goal in stoppage time.

Lazo Alavanja, who played for Dallas in 1999-2000, and one of several former MLS players on the Battery roster, opened the scoring in the 28th minute and after play resumed following a 53-minute-delay, Ian Fuller doubled Charleston's lead shortly before halftime.

Randi Patterson tacked on a third goal in stoppage time after a second-half in which FC Dallas launched five shots; two were deflected but nothing got past goalie Dusty Hudock until Cooper connected. Charleston thus took revenge for being eliminated by FCD in the Open Cup the past two seasons.

Cooper is being pursued by Norwegian club Rosenborg, and his possible loss is just another headache for recently hired Coach Schellas Hyndman, who criticized his players a few days ago and in return received the worst result of his four-match pro coaching career.

Seattle keeper Chris Eylander saved penalty kicks by Jimmy Conrad and Tyson Wahl and Zach Scott converted the decisive penalty as the Sounders, who hit the crossbar twice in overtime and again in the penalty-kick shootout, knocked off Kansas City, 6-5, following 120 scoreless minutes.

D.C. United needed a Bryan Namoff goal in overtime to beat Chicago, 2-1, in the only all-MLS encounter.

The Revs advanced on penalties, 5-4, after ending 120 minutes all square at 1-1 with Crystal Palace Baltimore.

In personnel and intensity, Chicago and D.C. brought their long rivalry to the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown, Md. Daniel Woolard staked the Fire to a 1-0 lead, Francis Doe - assisted by substitute Jaime Moreno - equalized in the 77th minute, and Namoff put away another Moreno feed nine minutes into overtime.

Early in the second overtime period, a foul by Fred on John Thorrington sparked a shoving match amid a gang of players after Cuauhtemoc Blanco tried to take a quick free kick only to be body-blocked by Marc Burch knocked him down. Blanco bounced off the ground and pushed Clyde Simms in the face. Referee Shane Moody sent off Burch and Blanco and neither team got a goal playing 10-v-10.

The Revs' reserves included Kenny Mansally, Khano Smith and Taylor Twellman in the starting lineup, so Coach Steve Nicol didn't leave himself completely bereft of game-breakers. Mansally, set up by Brandon Tyler's through ball, scored early, but the USL-2 lads kept their heads up and Dan Lader equalized in the 20th minute to set up 100 more minutes of tense, tough play.

Crystal Place, which had knocked off Red Bull New York, 2-0, in the third round, survived extra time despite nearly deflecting a Chris Tierney free kick into its own net, but succumbed when Revs keeper Doug Warren stopped Val Teixeira on Crystal Palace's fifth attempt and Mauricio Castro, a sub in the last minute of extra time, converted the final kick of the game.


QUARTERFINALS
FC Dallas 1 Charleston Battery 3

CHR -- Lazo Alavanja (unassisted) 28
CHR -- Ian Fuller (Stephen Armstrong) 43
CHR -- Randi Patterson (unassisted) 91+
DAL -- Kenny Cooper (Eric Avila) 94+

New England Revolution 1 Crystal Palace Baltimore 1
(New England wins 5-3 on penalties.)
NE -- Kenny Mansally (Brandon Tyler) 6
CPB -- Dan Lader (unassisted) 20

D.C. United 2 Chicago Fire 1
DC -- Francis Doe (Jamie Moreno) 77
CHI -- Daniel Woolard (Logan Pause) 36
DC -- Bryan Namoff (Jaime Moreno) 99

Seattle Sounders 0 Kansas City Wizards 0
(Seattle wins 6-5 on penalties.)

 



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