MLS teams joined the oldest competition in American soccer this week, as the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup kicked off. As fans of the FA Cup in England know, cup matches can produce some stunning results, and truly any team can win on any given day.
The Open Cup has gained steam in the United States in recent years, as it remains the only competition that lets all divisions of the U.S. Soccer pyramid compete against each other. Here’s a collection of the three best matches from this year’s U.S. Open Cup fourth round.
Portland Timbers 3, Seattle Sounders 1
The biggest rivalry in the MLS was revisited Tuesday night, as the Sounders took on the Timbers in this fourth-round matchup. While the game went into extra time after regulation finished tied at 1-1, the result became lopsided as the red cards flowed like water in this rivalry game.
Seattle captain Brad Evans was sent off in the 69th minute, earning his second yellow card of the game after a flurry of questionable tackles. Obafemi Martins was able to equalize for the Sounders, despite being down to 10 men. Martins didn’t last long however, as the Seattle forward went off with an injury, after the Sounders used their three subs, bringing the Sounders down to nine men.
The send offs continued for Seattle as Micheal Azira was red carded for an elbow to Portland man Gaston Fernandez. Clint Dempsey disagreed with the card, and subsequently tore up the referee’s notebook, earning himself a send off. With just seven men left on the field, the Sounders were dominated by Portland, with Rodney Wallace and Maximiliano Urruti scoring the goals to send the Timbers through to the next round.
New York Cosmos 2, NYCFC 2 (4-3 on Penalties)
In the first ever edition of the East River Derby, NYCFC took on the Cosmos at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. The game did not disappoint, as a late comeback from the Cosmos sent the game into extra time, then penalties, with the NASL moving on as the lone minor league team in the Round of 16.
Despite two goals from NYCFC midfielder Kwadwo Poku, the Cosmos were able to come back thanks to goal scoring efforts from Leo Fernandes and Lucky Mkosana. Mkosana was especially dangerous as the game went on, frustrating an NYCFC defense that will anxiously await reinforcements during the July transfer window.
While NYCFC put the pressure on for most of extra time, Pablo Alvarez missed a penalty off the crossbar, which sealed doom for the MLS expansion side. Cosmos goalkeeper John Maurer came up huge during the penalty shootout for the NASL team, and after saving numerous shots from NYCFC, was able to propel his team into a Round of 16 matchup with rival New York Red Bulls.
Orlando City 4, Charleston Battery 4 (8-7 on Penalties)
In the craziest matchup of the fourth round of the Open Cup, Orlando City advanced on penalties against Charleston. This game included four extra time goals, including three awarded penalties, as well as a penalty shootout that went 8-7 in favor of Orlando City.
Charleston should be extremely proud of the performance they put on against a more talented Orlando side, especially J.J. Portillo who notched two key extra time goals that gave Charleston a chance at victory. While Orlando-Charleston didn’t feature the intense regional rivalry of other fourth round Open Cup matches, it provided more goals than any game in the round, producing extremely exciting soccer for all those in attendance.