With the quarterfinal round of the oldest soccer competition in the United States now set, the competition to see who will take home the coveted US Open Cup trophy has really started to heat up. With the round of 16 featuring almost exclusively MLS teams, old rivalries have flared, with this year’s competition displaying the fiercest competition that American soccer has to offer.
While the Open Cup was an afterthought in the early days of MLS, over the past few years, the Open Cup has risen in popularity, with fans clamoring for upsets, new faces and new heroes to be made from their favorite clubs, prompting MLS sides to treat it like a playoff game. Thus, this year’s round of 16 was amongst the most competitive the competition has ever seen. Here’s three of the top matches.
New York Red Bulls 4, New York Cosmos 1
With both teams still reeling from huge victories over rival NYCFC, the matchup between the Red Bulls and Cosmos had quite the billing in its lead up. Fans of both squads will remember that the Cosmos knocked the Red Bulls out of this competition in dramatic fashion just a year ago. However, this result was very different.
Sal Zizzo opened up scoring for the Red Bulls in just the fourth minute, and was followed up by goals from Anatole Abang, Sacha Kljestan and Mike Grella, to put the Red Bulls on top for a convincing victory. Kljestan was especially impressive in securing the Red Bulls’ third win against New York based clubs this season.
The Red Bulls have defeated NYCFC twice and the Cosmos once, asserting themselves as the dominant team in the region. Now, Kljestan’s team is set up for a quarterfinal matchup against Philly in Red Bull Arena.
Orlando City 2, Columbus Crew SC 0
In their MLS debut in the Open Cup, Orlando City is making quite the splash, making easy work of Columbus Crew SC in this round of 16 matchup. In front of a crowd of rowdy home fans in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, the Lions were able to take down a very dangerous Columbus team, holding them scoreless over 90 minutes, something few MLS teams have been able to do.
For Orlando City, everything starts and ends with their captain and unquestioned leader Kaka, so of course he opened scoring in this match. However, his ferocity was matched by up and coming youngster Carlos Rivas, a Colombian international who has made huge strides during his time with Orlando. While Columbus produced some very promising chances in the second half, they were ultimately overmatched by Orlando City, who cruised to a 2-0 home victory. Orlando City now faces Chicago Fire on the road, so it will be interesting to see how Kaka and Co. fare away from their friendly confines of the Citrus Bowl.
LA Galaxy 1, San Jose Earthquakes 0
The “California Clasico” has become a staple of MLS’ Western Conference, and with the Earthquakes playing at their new home in Avaya Stadium, many fans anticipated the struggling Galaxy to fall in this round of the Open Cup. Nonetheless, Los Angeles rose to the challenge, and secured a spot in the quarterfinal, taking down their California rival.
Striker Jose Villarreal took down the games’ only goal in just the fourth minute, and the Galaxy played pragmatic, defensive soccer for the remaining 86 minutes as they tried to hold off the Earthquakes away from home. With the teams matching up in the league this weekend, Los Angeles will certainly feel confident with a win against their rivals. The Galaxy will face Real Salt Lake, another traditional Western Conference foe in the quarterfinal.