Editorial (June 15, 2017) – The fourth round of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is in the books. Sixteen matches were played on Tuesday and Wednesday night this week. With the dust settled, 13 MLS teams, two USL sides, and one NASL team remain. They will advance to the Round of 16, to be played the week of June 28.
U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round Review: Golazos, Lightning, And Attendance Records
This round of the USOC is always one of the most entertaining. The last of the amateur teams are taking on the big boys. The NASL and USL teams almost all get to play MLS teams. This round featured a bit of everything, other than a PK shootout. Here’s the highlights from the U.S. Open Cup fourth round:
David Upsetting Goliath:
This week featured 13 non-MLS teams, all of whom had MLS opponents. Unfortunately for the neutral fan, this round didn’t feature as many shocking upsets. Amateur side Christos FC took a 1-0 lead on D.C. United before being blown out 4-1. They were the last survivor of the non MLS, NASL, or USL teams. FC Cincinnati got a huge 1-0 win over in-state rival Columbus Crew SC in the first ever #HellIsReal Derby.
Later in the evening, Miami FC won their first ever competative meeting with Orlando City SC. Led by a hat trick from Stefano Pinho, the top team in the NASL defeated the MLS side 3-1. Orlando did field mostly a reserve team, but Pinho showed his class, beating Jonathan Spector and goalkeeper Josh Saunders on several occasions. Sacramento Republic FC finished off the night with a 4-1 upset of Real Salt Lake. Danny Barrera led the way with a goal and two assits.
This round saw two games get delayed due to regional lightning storms for a combined three hours plus. First, Atlanta United FC and Charleston Battery had a 10:10 pm EST kick off thanks to a storm before the scheduled kick off (7:30 pm EST). Charleston got out to an early lead, but Brandon Vázquez recorded a goal and an assist to lift Atlanta 3-2.
Further north, a lightning delay possibly helped the Houston Dynamo beat North Carolina FC. The match was suspended in the 88th minute with the game tied 2-2. Fans stuck around and watched the only game of the round to go past 90 minutes. The game could have gone to PKs, but Memo Rodríguez netted the game winner in the 109th minute.
MLS Rivalries On A Different Stage:
This week saw two of the most intense rivalries in MLS take place at the Open Cup level. On Tuesday night, the Seattle Sounders hosted the Portland Timbers in a Cascadia USOC clash. Both sides played reserve squads, but played to a competative 2-1 win for Seattle. On the other coast, the Hudson River Derby was taken much more seriously. Both teams played a first choice Starting XI as the New York Red Bulls won a cagey 1-0 match on a second half goal from Daniel Royer.
CLEAN UP CREW!
Several Fantastic Finishes:
For a tournament normally associated with lower division teams and bench players, this week had some marvelous goals. There were several great finishes this week, with thumping headers and good set pieces.
The best of the night came from Jose Villarreal for the LA Galaxy and Luis Solignac for Chicago Fire. Villarreal channeled the spirit of Michael Bradley with a 30 yard bomb to open the scoring in his match.
Solignac’s wonder goal was hands down the best of the round (possibly the tournament?). Check out this deft back heel finish.
I know, RIGHT?
A New Attendance Record:
The Open Cup is often maligned for maligned for poor attendance. Sometimes it’s small market lower division teams hosting games, matches being on a Wednesday, or the casual American still not getting what a Cup Competition is. This week’s action had a fair bit of that. The Colorado Rapids had only a few hundred people in attendance. Seattle and Portland could not sell out the Starfire Sports Complex (just under 4,000 in official attendance).
But there was a bright spot for attendance this week. Cincinnati and Columbus set a modern era non-Final record with 30,160 in attendance at Nippert Stadium. This has to be one of the highest attended USOC matches in a decade. Most MLS stadiums have capacities under 30,000. The Seattle Sounders hosted the final in 2010 and 2011 with attendance over 31,000. Other than that, this game is the higest attended in years. Credit to the FC Cincy supporters and the traveling support from Columbus for creating the atmosphere this tournament deserves.
The draw for the Round of 16 will take place this week. The next round is scheduled to take playce the week of June 28. Stay tuned to Last Word on Soccer for all our coverage of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.