With the oldest soccer competition reaching the quarterfinal stage, the competition for the remaining MLS teams to win a trophy has become as fierce as ever. The four quarterfinal matchups provided high drama, late goals and an exciting preview of the semifinals. Here’s a recap for the best moments from each of those thrilling contests.
Real Salt Lake 1, L.A. Galaxy 0
The first quarterfinal matchup between the Galaxy and RSL provided an interesting bit of drama, as RSL was able to upset their longtime Western Conference rivals. Defender Aaron Maund scored in the 87th minute to give RSL the lead, the first goal of his professional career. Maund was aided by a cross from Luke Mullholland, which he caught with a header just above the penalty spot to redirect it toward the goal.
Despite an appearance from new signing Steven Gerrard in the 54th minute, the LA Galaxy were unable to break the scoreless deadlock with RSL and went home without not only a win, but a goal. For a team like the Galaxy to not score in a game of this magnitude is high praise for the stingy RSL defense, and will serve Salt Lake when they take on Sporting Kansas City in the semifinal.
Sporting Kansas City 3, Houston Dynamo 1
In a game defined by an early red card, Sporting Kansas City was able to squeak out a 3-1 victory over the shorthanded Houston Dynamo. Despite a careless tackle from Luis Garrido that saw the midfielder sent off in the 30th minute, Houston was able to take the lead on a Will Bruin goal just before the hour mark.
However, SKC broke through in the 71st minute when Benny Feilhaber scored the equalizer for the home side. Then, U.S. Open Cup leading scorer Dom Dwyer took over, scoring the go-ahead goal and assisting on Krisztian Nemeth’s insurance goal to secure the SKC win.
Sporting was able to take down a very difficult Dynamo side, that used the quarterfinal game for the competitive debut of their new DP Cubo Torres. The win marks Kansas City’s ninth straight home victory, a franchise record. They host RSL in the semifinal.
Philadelphia Union 1, New York Red Bulls 1 (Philadelphia wins 4-3 on penalties)
In another quarterfinal match defined by a red card, the 10-man Philadelphia Union were able to defeat the New York Red Bulls in front of the largest home crowd at Red Bull Arena for a U.S. Open Cup match. Conor Casey received a red card just before halftime for a strong, two-footed tackle against Red Bulls’ defender Connor Lade. Nonetheless, the Union took the lead in the 55th minute, when Vincent Nogueira sent a ball into the box for Eric Ayuk to slot into the back of the goal.
While the man advantage afforded the Red Bulls a lot of chances, they were only able to break through in the dying embers of the game, when Mike Grella found Lloyd Sam in the penalty area and Sam slotted the ball into the back corner.
However, the gutsy Union were able to hold on through extra time and win 4-3 on penalties. This marks the third semifinal appearance for the Union in four years, as they host the Chicago Fire in the next round.
Chicago Fire 3, Orlando City SC 1
In their first Open Cup quarterfinal, Orlando City fell to Chicago 3-1 in a hard-fought battle. The Fire were lifted by two late goals from substitute Kennedy Igboananike to push Frank Yallop’s boys to victory.
Patrick Nyarko gave the hosting Fire the lead in just the third minute, only to have it snatched away by Rookie of the Year candidate Cyle Larin in the 56th. However, some inspired play by the Chicago DPs, as well as Igboananike, propelled the Fire onto victory. They will visit the Union at PPL Park in their semifinal matchup.