Thursday, May 31, 2012

8 MLS Squads Knocked Out of U.S. Open Cup in 3rd Round

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With a berth in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League on the line, you'd think MLS Clubs would take the U.S. Open Cup a little bit more seriously. But in the 3rd Round of the Tournament, the first round in which MLS clubs play, half of the 16 U.S. based MLS clubs were eliminated from the competition.

The New England Revolution blew a 3-0 lead in the 103rd minute and fell to the Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP) on penalties.

The L.A. Galaxy gave up a pair of goals after the 75th minute and came up short against the Carolina RailHawks (NASL) by a score of 2-1.

The Columbus Crew blew a 1-0 lead in the 79th minute at home against the Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP) losing 2-1.

The Chicago Fire took a 2-1 lead into the 79th minute against the Michigan Bucks (PDL) before losing 3-2 in extra time.

The Houston Dynamo surrendered a second half penalty and were shutout by the San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) 1-0.

FC Dallas got beat up by the Charlotte Eagles (USLP) at home by a score of 2-0.

Real Salt Lake was shocked at Rio Tinto by the Minnesota Stars (NASL) 3-1.

Cal FC (USASA) defeated the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN field 1-0 in extra time.

Now, this is the U.S. Soccer Pyramid. Teams from the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), U.S Club Soccer (USCS) and U.S. Premier Development League enter the tournament in the first round. The 16 teams that make it out of the first round take on the 6 teams from the North American Soccer League (NASL) and 10 teams from the USL PRO (USLP) league in the second round, with those winners taking on the MLS clubs in the third round. Losses to the NASL and USLP aren't glamorous by any means, but they're at least understandable when you consider that a lot of MLS teams aren't necessarily playing their best eleven and these guys are at least professionals. However, Chicago's loss to the Michigan Bucks of the PDL, and Portland's shutout loss to Cal FC of the fifth tier USASA are inexcusable.

Now Michigan is no stranger to knocking off MLS clubs having defeated the New England Revolution back in 2000 and almost upsetting the Tampa Bay Mutiny a round later drawing 3-3 and falling on penalties. Cal FC is a completely different story. Founded in 2010 and coached by former U.S. National Teamer Eric Wynalda, these guys have literally come out of nowhere in what is arguably the biggest upset in the history of the U.S. Open Cup during the MLS era.

But enough about the MLS's shortcomings in the tournament, there are still 8 teams that are still alive. Here's a look at the pairings for the 4th Round to be played on June 5th:

Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP) vs New York Red Bulls
D.C. United vs Philadelphia Union
Michigan Bucks (PDL) vs Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)
Sporting Kansas City vs Colorado Rapids
San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) vs Charlotte Eagles (USLP)
San Jose Earthquakes vs Minnesota Stars FC (NASL)
Seattle Sounders vs Cal FC (USASA)
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) vs Chivas USA

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The Seattle Sounders have won the last three U.S. Open Cups and a non-MLS club hasn't reached the finals since the Charleston Battery did so in 2008. The last non-MLS team to win the tournament was back in 1999 when Pat Onstad's Rochester Raging Rhinos stunned the Colorado Rapids 2-0.

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