U.S. Open Cup

Seven MLS teams eliminated after wild night in U.S. Open Cup


One-by-one the results kept coming in Tuesday night, with each one seeming more unlikely than the last. On perhaps the wildest, most unpredictable night in U.S. Open Cup history, seven MLS teams were eliminated from the competition the third round, and the manner in which some of them were sent packing was downright shocking. 

The Carolina RailHawks had yet to win a game in NASL, yet they sent they defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy home with two late goals. The New England Revolution and Harrisburg City Islanders played to a scoreless draw in regulation, but the Revs exploded for three goals in extra time only to blow that lead and have Benny Feilhaber's saved penalty kick seal the Islanders' shootout victory. Four-time champion Chicago Fire won't get close to returning to the final after falling to PDL side Michigan Bucks. Supporters' Shield front-runner Real Salt Lake fell at a packed Rio Tinto Stadium of all places to NASL champion Minnesota Stars. It was that kind of night.

The three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers, who both are in action Wednesday night, have been put on notice. 

Here's a closer look at the results from a bloody evening for favored sides in the Open Cup:


Michigan Bucks 3, Chicago Fire 2 (AET)

Michigan is the last PDL side standing after shocking the Fire at the indoor Ultimate Soccer Arenas, with Nermin Crnkic scoring the game-winner in the first period of extra time.

San Antonio Scorpions 1, Houston Dynamo 0

Hans Denissen tallied on a second-half penalty kick to lift the Scorpions past a reserve-laden Dynamo side.

Sporting Kansas City 3, Orlando City SC 2

Soony Saad's two second-half goals helped SKC to the win over 10-man USL Pro champion Orlando City, who sliced the deficit to one on Dennis Chin's 84th-minute goal but could not complete the comeback.

D.C. United 2, Richmond Kickers 1 (AET)

Marcelo Saragosa's extra-time winner kept D.C. alive after Hamdi Salihi's opening goal was cancelled out by Sydney Nyazamba's penalty, which was drawn by Chris Agorsor. 

Dayton Dutch Lions 2, Columbus Crew 1

The Crew blew a late lead to in-state rival Dayton, as Gibson Bardsley's 81st-minute winner accounted for the difference in the 81st minute after Jan Gerrit Bartels equalized three minutes earlier.

Charlotte Eagles 2, FC Dallas 0

FC Dallas' struggles continued, as Eagles goalkeeper Clint Irwin made 10 saves and the USL Pro side got goals from Darryl Roberts and Nate Thornton.

San Jose Earthquakes 2, Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 1

Rookie Sam Garza brought the Earthquakes back from a deficit and helped them avoid the upset bug with his two goals in a seven-minute span to offset Mark Anderson's chip from distance.

Philadelphia Union 3, Rochester Rhinos 0

Freddy Adu's two goals carried the Union in one of the few conventional results on the night, and Philadelphia will meet D.C. United in the next round at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Harrisburg City Islanders 3, New England Revoution 3 (Islanders win 4-3 on PKs)

The wildest match of the night took place at the Skyline Sports Complex, as the 10-man Revolution went ahead on goals from Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen and Benny Feilhaber in the first period of extra time only to concede three in the second 15-minute stanza to Brian Ombiji, Sainey Touray and JT Noone. Feilhaber's missed PK sealed the stunner.

New York Red Bulls 3, Charleston Battery 0

The Red Bulls trotted out a mostly first-team unit, and Kenny Cooper, Heath Pearce and Connor Lade scored to lift the club to the Round of 16 with relative ease.

Chivas USA 1, Ventura County Fusion 0

Cesar Romero finished off a feed from Juan Agudelo in the 13th minute to help the Goats to a road result over the PDL side.

Carolina RailHawks 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 1

The Galaxy's woes extended to USOC play, with Ty Shipalane and Brian Shriver scoring late to steal a result in front of a packed house at WakeMed Park and send the MLS Cup champs home with a brutal loss.

Colorado Rapids 3, Tampa Bay Rowdies 1

The Rapids had not won a USOC match since 2007, but that streak is over after Edu, Andre Akpan and Kamani Hill carried the club to a victory over the Rowdies, who got a consoloation goal from Matt Clare in second-half stoppage time.

Minnesota Stars 3, Real Salt Lake 1

RSL went down on a third-minute goal, and even though Luis Gil tied things up, the Stars got a penalty kick from Neil Hlvaty and an insurance tally from Simone Bracalello just moments after he came on in the second half to seal the stunner.


What did you think of all of the USOC results? Are you loving this new tournament format even more because of all of the upsets? Think Tuesday's results will alter how some MLS teams approach the tournament going forward?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Juan

    Because MLS teams DONT CARE. They lose money on the gate, risk getting their starters hurt for nothing and and get tired for games that do matter.

    Most start their reserve team and don’t even bring their top top players sometimes. There is nothing in it at all for a MLS team and MLS should drop out of the whole mess


  • Jya

    But this tournament helps them get to the next CCL so there won’t be an off year like there was this past season


  • RyanQ

    Scorpions/Dynamo game was riveting. Scorpions (San Antonio) absolutely dominated the middle of the park and Houston could only lob balls into the box – which were easily eaten up by the keeper. The score could have easily been 3 or 4-0. Definitely some individual skill on the Dynamo side, but absolutely no chemistry in this match. Scorpions, on the other hand, had some great support and were very creative and in sync with one another. Historic night for many lower division sides; a night to forget for many MLS sides.


  • Johnny Ramone

    All these results “prove” is that USL players are at least as good as most MLS subs.

    Well, that AND the Revs are a LOT of fun when they lose like that!


  • RyanQ

    also, more than 7k people showed up for the San Antonio game… in a HS football stadium.


  • B 16

    You have to believe all PDL teams will “play up” to MLS competition-just as an unranked college team will have more of a chip on their shoulder against higher rated competition-they have something to prove.


  • Eurosnob

    Ok, we both agree that this was not a fluke. But these are not valid excuses for a mass exodus from the tournament. Let’s look at them one by one. 1. You are correct that the lower division squads may be treating this as the most important game of their season. However, it is true for any competition involving teams from lower divisions. If this is a valid reason, why do we not see top tier division teams from European and South American Leagues knocked out in droves by lesser opponents? 2. MLS teams fielded reserve/rookie heavy line ups. This may be true, but they lost to the 3rd and 4th tier division teams! What does it tell us about the overall quality of MLS reserves and rookies? Are these clubs serious about developing their young players? Do they really scout and attract the best talent? Are these guys getting the top level coaching? Just a few days earlier Portland Timbers PDL team lost to an amature team that was not even particularly good and got drubbings from other amature teams and lower division teams. What does it say about the quality of their youth/player development program? 3. Many lower division players are MLS fringe players, putting them at least on par with MLS reserves. You may be correct, but this also means that MLS is offering a substandard quality product that is on par with the 3rd and 4th tier leagues in this country. Are MLS owners content with fielding some players that are no better than 4th tier division of the US soccer? I am not an MLS hater, but I hope that they do not think that this is acceptable. 4. Most MLS squads don’t care about USOC or they would have used their starters. This again may be true, but even reserves must have some quality, be professionals or at least respect the game. Guys, like Messi, who love the game, they want to play every minute of every game or even scrimmage, and win. It is perfectly fine to rest your starters, but do you really think that reserves from a European or South American team would say a cup game is not important and it is OK to get beat by a 4th division team? Yes, there may be an upset by a lower division team, but seven top division teams being knocked out by lower division teams in a single day is something different. Isn’t a game like this a great opportunity for reserves to make a case to the coach that they belong with the first team? Shouldn’t a reserve player fight for a first team role?


  • Eurosnob

    Mike, I am not a Fire supporter, but hats of to you (as a fan) for being embarassed and upset. One thing that you can take some comfort from is that the regular starters, who were watching from the bench, were upset with getting outplayed by a 4th division team. At least, those guys had some pride and respect for the game. Questions need to be asked as to why SEVEN MLS teams had their butts kicked by the 3rd and 4th division teams.


  • bryan

    wow. i’m glad DCU pulled it off. LAG, i don’t know what to say about this team. they are in an epic funk. 2008 style.


  • go usa

    Arena is very much responsible. He selected the players, he is coaching the tactics, etc…

    Arena as much as admitted in his Extratime interview that he knows one style and coaches it. But, just like defenders in the league can adapt to superstar strikers and shut them down the following season, teams have evolved and adapted to the LAG and Bruce is the same.

    This phenomenon also happen with the USMNT where his style surprised in Korea/Japan and was good for last place in Germany.


  • Eurosnob

    Upsets, it may well be that the 4th and 3rd division teams treat OC cup games as their biggest game in their season, but isn’t this also true for European and South American cups that pit top division teams against lower league teams? Yet, the mass exodus of the top division teams is not a norm for South America or Europe. It is true that any team is capable of an upset, but SEVEN teams getting booted out in one day is not a fluke.


  • bryan

    you guys are missing his point though…and it’s a good point. if this is the most important game for the 3rd and 4th division teams, how would this not be the most important game for the MLS reserves? they literally get no meaningful games expect USOC games.

    also, another one of his points is that why are MLS reserves apparently not on par with 3rd and 4th division starters? it should not be such a dramatic drop off. in South American and Europe there isn’t such a drastic drop off from first team to reserves. the reserve team themselves usually play in the 4th, 3rd or 2nd division of the country they are in.

    personally, i think it is a sign that MLS has a lot to do to improve reserve teams and find a way to integrate the reserve league with the USL. these players need meaningful games. hopefully this will start to change.


  • Eurosnob

    Many of these teams lost to the 3rd and 4th tier division teams. A better comparision would be ManUtd reserves losing to a team from Football League Two, such as Torquay United, Aldershot Town or Accrington Stanley.


  • yankiboy

    Thanks, Playah! So there is some motivation for some MLS clubs to prioritize the USOC.


  • AdamFromMich

    I watched this game on the feed (from the 75th minute to the end), and it looked like Chicago never adjusted to the field. The turf didn’t look that good, but I think the small size of the field bothered the Fire more than the quality of the turf. I was a little surprised when Oduro went on, because the field was not big enough for him to use his speed.

    The camera work for the stream was not good enough for me to make any judgements about individual players, but I will say that your defense looked bad and your offense was ineffective (during the time I watched).


  • yankiboy

    Yeah Juan-That whole automatic CONCACAF berth for managing to win like 5 or 6 games is an utter waste of time! Coz you just gotta spend more ca$h when you get involved in that whole CCL mess. Maybe MLS clubs should just skip that, too.


  • Jeffrey

    You need to look at RSL’s line up. There were many non-reserves in the line up from last night- Borchers, Olave, Grabavoy, Wingert, Gil, Steele, Paolo Jr. to name a few. Those are not reserve players. RSL lost to a very good Minnesota team.


  • Gnarls

    I watched the stream from LA. I didn’t like the result, but kudos indeed. If ever there was a valid argument for pro/rel, it’s when teams like Carolina, Orlando City and a few notable others bring in big crowds AND play good soccer.


  • solles

    …or there are players, Barbara in Carolina comes to mine, who can make more $$ playing regularly at a lower level than they can being a squad player in MLS.

    I like the DP rule in all as it has brought some much needed attention and some great players to MLS, but the inequality in income for MLS players as a whole is a real issue that needs to be addressed, basically we have a system where you have MLS teams with an outer shell of solid players but just a few injuries or a little bit of fixture congestion really punctures most MLS sides’s quality very quickly.

    If NY or LA took their DP’s salaries and distributed them more evenly throughout the squads they have, the’d have no problem attracting good talent from top to bottom, though perhaps there’d be fewer “big names”. That’s a tough debate but to me the fact that, for example, George John makes 50k while Rafa Marquez makes however many millions he does is an absolute disgrace.


  • JRP

    Really? Why? The good teams already earn a Concacaf chance when they finish at the top. They schedule it right in the middle of international duty so most teams are missing their best players. The highest bid wins home seat advantage. MLS teams have nothing to win (good ones already play in Concacaf) and everything to loose (injury). Ticket sales are dismal. And if you win, you get a little money which was way less than it was to pay for home field advantage. Stupid tournament. And if you keep winning you play so many added games that come Concacaf games in the fall and the playoffs you are too tired and injured to play your best (See Seattle: Three years running). It is a stupid tournament.


  • JRP

    The GOOD MLS teams won’t take it seriously. It is called coaching. You aren’t going to put your best players on the pitch to play nobody in a game that doesn’t matter. Half of the best players are away on national duty. And the good teams will get a Concacaf ticket anyway.


  • JRP

    But Open Cup is what did them in. Can you not see that playing that many games that didn’t matter is what hurt them in the playoffs?


  • WK

    Dunno- its also a huge cost to the club’s owners/sponsors. The pub owner who backed the San Jose Oaks winning team in the early 90’s has said he spent almost $50,000 that summer. And for what prize money?


  • Chan


    My HS plays football in that stadium, and I have good memories of that place (marching band, etc). What I think speaks to the support San Antonio is giving the Scorpions is the fact that the Spurs were in town for Game 2 of the Western finals. Good stuff, SA!


  • Vince

    Great point, however, these are the most important games for the reserves, but they don’t play togther as a whole unit on a regular basis. It is a mixed and matched team that puts them at a huge disadvantage against ANY team that is unified and disciplined.


  • Carl

    A lot of you knock the Canadian Cup, but at least they take it seriously. Why any MLS team wouldn’t take their domestic cup seriously especially with a CCL berth on the line baffles me.

    With only so many teams that qualify through league/MLS Cup play you’d think the middling teams would go balls out to win the USOC berth.

    Guess most MLS teams are so scared to have to run up against the Mexican clubs in meaningful matches that they sandbag the USOC in the name of *protecting* their first team players.. all the clubs that lost yesterday are an embarrassment to our league.

    Sure it happens in the FA sometimes that a minnow comes up trump but that’s the exception not the rule. 50% failure rate of the league to move onto the next round is a joke. This just proves that the MLS clubs shouldn’t get special treatment, (I.e. coming in at the third round.)

    They should have to play in just like any other club, after all how many MLS clubs are taking a spot in the third round that some lower league team could have won from them in the earlier rounds.


  • chris

    CONCACAF birth is one thing, but 100K or a 50K runner up purse means NOTHING to an MLS team and a hell of a lot to an amateur team.

    This cup has so much history and seems to be the only pro-era competition among our major US sports where a top league can go up against ams and lower division leagues. It’s a shame that it cannot be marketed, televised, or even supported a little more.

    As for MLS, this seems to be the first time in many years following that MLS is even supporting at all. In the past you had to dig pretty hard to find these results and it’s too bad considering it could be our largest tournament if the marketing and amount of investment was right. But that would probably never happen without MLS getting the larger portion of the pie.

    There are comparisons to the FA Cup, which we all know it’s not. The biggest difference is our lower leagues can only get into the MLS if they’re buying their way into it. At least with the US Open Cup, our lower level teams can find higher level competition outside of the MLS pre-season matches.


  • Dave

    Well you saw the game after a key substitution was made by the Bucks – Miller on for Caldwell. Miller went up top and knocked Crnkic and Catalano down to spots where their skills are better suited. The complexion of the matched changed immediately.


  • bryan

    That’s true. But I find that to be a part of the problem. Obviously if you make the bench of the first team, you won’t partake in a reserve game. But all those reserves SHOULD be playing together and building chemistry. I guess that is my underlining point; the reserve teams need to be more of a team and play in meaningful games, even if it’s at the USL level.


  • Dave

    Klopas was definitely outcoached. But that is not a knock. Gary Parsons might be the best coach in the country that no one knows.

    And the Bucks might be 4th Division but we aren’t small fries. Two former Bucks keyed other upsets last night; Shipalane for the RailHawks and Ombiji for the Islanders.

    And several of our kids will play at some higher level: Catalano, Crnkic, Steinberger to name three.

    We even had one of the Fire players last night that didn’t soil himself: Walls. Though I wonder whether he isn’t really a d-mid not a right back.


  • JRP

    Good teams got to Concacaf anyway. The only team in the past three years to take this seriously is Seattle. They have won it all three times. The price they have paid is being tired come playoffs. That price is not worth it. Dumb tournament.


  • Creige VA

    Seriously, I hope you’re joking. Arena is a top notch coach and rescued LA from the doldrums. Did Arena actually select the players for the Galaxy? I doubt that very much. The more likely reasons the Galaxy are not doing well: Keane can’t create chances on his own, Buddle doesn’t work well with Kean, Donovan doesn’t care about the MLS anymore, Omar Gonzalez is injured and Berhalter is gone, they let go of Ricketts for Saunders who is in drug/alcohol rehab, and the other MLS teams are better because they care more about player development then marketing.


  • Chodilicus

    Bryan, it’s called a salary cap that is way too low. Most of the MLS teams now having pretty good starting XI’s and the quality of play has really improved. However, there is no depth and there cannot be. Almost no team in MLS can afford to pay any reasonable salary to players 15 thru 24.

    Yes, it is kind of sad. I agree that it should be better. But those guys at the end of the bench or in the MLS reserve league are not even the best young talent in America. They are really young players who didn’t have the opportunities to go overseas. They may be more talented than these 3rd or 4th division teams, but when you throw in their really limited experience and youth against older and savy veterans who are playing the matches of their careers, it is clear who has more to play for.

    Which brings me to my last point, which was made by a few other posters; this tournament is a joke for MLS teams. There is no prestige, money, TV exposure or anything else positive involved in the U.S. Open Cup for MLS teams. It actually costs them money. It distracts them from the competitions that mean more, MLS Cup and CONCACAF Champions League. With limited player resources, partly due to way too low salary cap, the sides have to pick and choose carefully.

    Then when you do have some teams that still want to place emphasis on this tournament, like RSL, the logistics of this poorly thought out and executed event don’t let it happen. RSL was missing Rimando, Beckerman, Johnson, and Saborio to international duty to go along with injuries to Espindola and Morales.

    So the answer to your question, sadly, is: NO, the MLS reserve sides do not matchup with 3rd and 4th division sides. Especially when those sides are motivated and the MLS teams are apathetic.


  • go usa

    Absolutely Arena is involved in player selection. It’s not like Barrett and Buddle just show up for practice one day.

    Saunders was out for stress and family issues not substance abuse.

    Arena has a very good coaching record and when he has the right players, his system works. But when the players (or attitudes) aren’t right, he doesn’t have a plan B. It’s happened before.


  • Chodilicus

    Amen, Solles! The only thing you got wrong is that it has nothing to do with the player pool, it is about the salary cap. The American player pool is fine but you have even average college players jumping overseas because they can make good money in lower divisions over there. Whereas in the MLS, being a reserve will get them $30k a year without any real emphasis on player development or a reserve system.

    The current salary cap just isn’t large enough for MLS teams to have any depth or develop young talent.


  • ...

    JRP, MLS teams play 5 Open Cup games (if they get all the way to the final).
    This year, two are happening during a 3-week break in MLS play.
    That leaves 3 games to fit into the MLS schedule.

    How many teams play summer friendlies against European teams in preseason? And how many friendlies do they play? I’d guess 3 is about the norm.

    How about complaining about those 3 completely meaningless games instead of the 3 Open Cup games?


  • Ivan


    I would go as far as say that the Rowdies are regressing and not progressing this season.

    Lots of huffing and puffing last night but the team lacks creativity. Campbell, Savage and Hill are one and the same player: solid defensively, but w/ limited range of passing and they do not offer anything in the final third. The team is practically playing w/ 3 defensive midfielders, all bunched up, and the team does not have any width.

    Picault was a bright spot but came on too little too late to make an impact. Ambersley has been awful every time I’ve seen him this season. Claire should start alongside Antoniuk.

    It is beyond me why the coach is playing his son and keeping Yamada as fullback. This is beyond ridiculous.

    Goals change games and had the Rowdies scored in the first 10 minutes we would probably have a different conversation right now.

    With that said, the better team won last night. Kamani Hill ran circles in midfield. What a game he had, not only for the beautiful late goal.


  • wides

    Well… maybe you should talk to Newcastle, Wolves, and Wigan… knocked out of the FA cup this year by lower division sides.

    Ok, not that impressive a bunch… but then let’s look at the Carling Cup…

    Sunderland, Swansea, Norwich, QPR, Wigan, Blackburn, and MANCHESTER UNITED! All knocked out by lower division sides.

    It’s a balancing act for the clubs between meaningful games and these where they hope to get their fringe/reserve players some good minutes.

    It’s not a bad sign for the league, this is the beauty of Cup games. David vs Goliath, and yes, the Davids REALLY want to win.


  • Islander

    JRP you’re an idiot and a troll.

    Now to destroy your idiotic argument, only 2 teams will make it to CONCACAF champions league, the Supporter Shield Winner and MLS Cup Champion… with 16 American teams that leaves 14 teams that won’t make it, now with the Open Cup you can win an easy and short tournament and make it.

    So please explain how a terrible LA team who definitely won’t win the SS and most likely won’t win the MLS Cup, why didn’t they take it seriously? What other games besides stupid friendlies that won’t win you any hardware and risks getting players injured?

    Will the Revs or Crew make the CCL via MLS Cup or supporters shield? Doubt it so why not send your first team, especially since there are no meaningful games they have to play now?

    As for the Sounders if they didn’t play meaningless friendlies they would be less tired, but guess what they didn’t lose in the playoffs because of this tournament, they lost because a better team beat them… But at the end of season, the still got a trophy and made the CCL, not bad for a “dumb tournament”.

    So JRP grow a brain and stop being a troll.


  • hogatroge

    Simply responding to my points doesn’t mean your arguments are valid.

    1. You do see top division teams losing to lower-tier squads. Look at the FA Cup results from this past year. Look at the Coupe de France. A 3rd tier side made it to the final.

    2. Match the 2nd teams from any EPL side against one of the promoted sides from the Championship, and let’s see how things turn out.

    3. A 28 y.o. former MLS-er playing in the NASL has the experience edge and PT edge on an MLS reserve player/rookie of equal skill who gets limited to no minutes on a weekly basis.

    4. The MLS reserves are not an official team and have little to no chemistry. Most of them were seeing their first significant minutes of the season in these games. Moreover, the fact that you brought Messi into this conversation shows you have an unrealistic grasp on the state of soccer in this country. Honestly, your screen name gives that away.


  • Stan

    Columbus game was amazing because the Dayton team was winless in their league and had only scored 2 goals all year. Crew individual players were obviously a lot more skilled, and had many more shots. Because of the team’s many injuries, all but two have at least a couple of games in MLS experience, but the best players didn’t start, and 3 players were just back from injuries. Crew seem to have won with a pk but let up and two turnovers by a makeshift back line lead to two Dayton goals. Obviously Dayton cared a lot more, particularly as the Crew had just been through a grueling MLS stretch of 3 big games in 8 days. In addition, a team that has played together has an advantage over a group of players that have not, even if the latter are more skilled individually. MLS all stars tend to get reamed by foreign teams for that reason. It might be good to give MLS reserves games against these lower level teams. Anyway MLS teams care about MLS competition and maybe name teams from Europe, but not these low level US teams. Even CCL is not marketed, does not draw, and tends to be played by reserves in the early rounds (in Latin America as well as here.) So while a few teams like NY and Portland played their best teams, and a few more MLS teams had things go their way, expect most MLS coaches will do what the Crew did in the USOC (even though they were “embarrassed” last year too) play a few veterans and a lot of reserves, rest the injured, give rehab guys some work, and hope for the best. So we will probably see some more upsets.


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