[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.
, 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
, 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
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
FC Dallas 1 Charleston Battery
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
-- Dan Lader (unassisted) 20
D.C. United 2 Chicago Fire 1
DC -- Francis Doe (Jamie Moreno) 77
CHI -- Daniel Woolard (Logan Pause)
DC -- Bryan Namoff (Jaime Moreno) 99
Seattle Sounders 0 Kansas City Wizards 0
(Seattle wins 6-5 on penalties.)