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U.S. Open Cup: Charleston puts out Fire in PKs, Red Bulls fall and more



BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After scoreless periods of regulation and extra time in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, the Chicago Fire were defeated in penalty kicks, 3-0, by the Charleston Battery in front of 2,526 at Toyota Park.

In succession, Brian McBride hit his penalty over the goal, Krzysztof Krol's shot was saved by Tim Melia and Wilman Conde sent his into the crossbar. Charleston's penalty takers made all three of their kicks, with midfielder Ian Fuller scoring the clincher.

"It feels good," Fuller said. "Obviously we were under the gun a lot in the second half and especially in overtime. We defended properly and that’s what you get.”

The Fire, which started only three of the same players it started in Sunday's game against New England, looked lethargic early on. The second half was a different story, as Fire regulars Patrick Nyarko, Conde and McBride filtered into the game. Conde was deployed as a defensive midfielder, and the Fire were able to control possession for most of the second half.

"These games are the hardest ones to play," Nyarko said. "These teams come in with nothing to lose, pack it in and try to score on a counter attack."

Charleston actually put the Major League Soccer club on the defensive for the opening minutes of the game, controlling play as former MLS journeyman Stephen Armstrong hit the post on a shot from about 30 yards out in the 5th minute.

Armstrong's chance ended up being the best of the half by either team, as the Battery out-shot the Fire, 5-4, in the opening 45 minutes.

"We came out very well, which we wanted to do, and we almost caught them early in the first half which really helped us put them under pressure," Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser said.

The Battery formed a defensive shell that the Fire weren't able to break in the second half and in extra time, and the USL-2 team was able to force penalty kicks, which proved deadly for the Fire.

"I thought we started a bit slow but as the game went on we got a bit more into it and got most of the possession as the game went on," said the Fire's rookie goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who replaced starter Andrew Dykstra for the second time in non-MLS play.

Tuesday was the third time in four years the Fire fell to a USL team in Open Cup play.

"We had control of the game all the time," Fire head coach Carlos de Los Cobos said. "You don't take advantage of your opportunities and things happen like they happened tonight."

Elsewhere in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup third-round action:


The New York Red Bulls couldn't get it done against former goalie Danny Cepero and the Harrisburg City Islanders. Hans Backe sent out a younger lineup, with Brian Nielsen returning from injury and Conor Chin, Juan Agudelo and Irving Garcia all earning a start.

After a scoreless 90 minutes, and almost 30 minutes of extra time, penalty kicks seemed inevitable. But Dominic Oppong's 117th minute winner knocked New York out of the U.S. Open Cup, and sealed Cepero's victory over his former side.


Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall answered what few questions Miami asked of him, and the Dynamo finally broke through thanks to Lovel Palmer, who scored with just 10 minutes to go, sealing Houston's progress to the quarterfinals.

Miami goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell kept the USSF D-2 team alive momentarily by stuffing Richard Mulrooney's penalty kick early in the second half.

Tuesday night's encounter gave Houston coach Dominic Kinnear a chance to experiment against Miami FC, starting Luis Angel Landin in an attacking midfielder role. The Designated Player suffered an apparent knee injury in the first half, though, and had to be subbed off.


The Columbus Crew needed stoppage time, but Steven Lenhart scored the winner to help Columbus avoid extra time and get past the pesky Rochester Rhinos 2-1.

Defender Andy Iro gave Columbus a first-half lead, but Darren Spicer leveled the match in the 69th minute, and Rochester almost grabbed the lead a few minutes later. Columbus held steady, and Lenhart stepped up just when it appeared that 30 more minutes would be needed.


With its MLS season in a swift decline, Chivas USA found a way to defeat the Austin Aztex, the USSF D-2 front-runners. A Jesus Padilla goal in the 12th minute was all the hosts needed in the 1-0 victory.

The win marked just the second time the Goats have won in the competition — the first one dating back to July 25, 2005, when they beat the Charlotte Eagles 3-2.

(Travis Clark contributed to this article)


What do you make of all the U.S. Open Cup matches? Surprised at the difficulty some MLS teams are having? Red Bulls and Fire fans, disappointed in your teams' results? Do you think a non-MLS team will win the tournament?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m shocked that the Baby Bulls lost to a division 3 team, because they knocked out three MLS teams to get that far. I guess Harrisburg just got lucky. It happens in a single elimination tournament sometimes.

  2. I guess I dont pay too much attention to CONCACAF club competitions.

    Screw it, we need a team in the FIFA Club WC. Someday…

  3. Agreed!! It’s sad that (virtually) no USOC games are on tv, much less are talked about. I know the WC is going on and everything, but still, this is our country’s oldest competition (correct me if I’m wrong), yet no one seems to know or care

  4. Yea, you mean the Superliga. It already exists, but is now the #2 tourney to the CONCACAF Champions league. The top four teams from each league not qualified for the Champions League are entered into it.

  5. The MLS just doesn’t have the credibility, or $$$, to field teams in tournaments, like Copa Libertadores.

    Now, I wouldn’t mind seeing a US/Mexico-club tournament, where the top four teams in the MLS Cup go against the top 4th place finishers of the Mexican League.

  6. Lol. You had Seattle participating in that competition.

    I’ll oblige that suggestion when they can actually put a competitive product within MLS capable of scoring goals and winning something.

    Supporters: Check
    7th Place/Western Conf: Check

  7. The MLS teams would struggle in the Libertadores Cup for some time. However, do not under estimate our MLS teams! If they put their heart, soul, and ability into it they could suprise a lot of the big South American teams. In 1998 the D.C. United played Vasco da Gama of Brazil, then the Libertadores Cup Champions, and beat them in a two-game series, with an 0-1 loss in Washington (goal by Filipe) and a 2-0 win in Fort Lauderdale (goals by Pope and Sanneh).

    We need to raise our soccer bar and play the best teams from this side of the world.

  8. ehh i’m not sure our sides would be very competitive, yet, in copa libertadores.

    As it is now, the Crew are the only team that have been competitve in international competitions, like the CONCACAF Champions League.

  9. What I really want to see is the MLS teams participating in the Libertadores Cup, like the Mexican teams do.

    Imagines Libertadores Cup groups like these:

    Group B

    Los Angeles Galaxy

    Clube América (Mexico)

    Boca Juniors

    Colo Colo

    Group D

    Seattle Sounders FC



    Atlético Nacional Medallín

    Group G

    New York Red Bulls


    River Plate

    Chivas of Guadalajara

    Group H

    Columbus Crew

    Nacional de Montevidéo

    São Paulo

    Liga de Quito

    This is one of my dreams for soccer in the USA.

  10. Sad but true. The only incentive is for lower division teams to win so they can get good press and feel good about beating a higher division team. Is there any chance that MLS will start to take CCL more serious in the future so that winning the USOC will provide a bigger incentive for MLS teams? I guess what I am saying is that if the CCL was a must attend tournament, then people would take winning the USOC for that 4th spot more serioulsy. I for one would like to see US teams competing favorably against foreign teams, on their soil as well as ours, consistantly.

  11. The MLS teams don’t care about the USOC, as well as the CCL, because there must be some pressure from the MLS front office. If the MLS front office pays the players salaries, why should they play (and possibly get injured) in any competitions outside of MLS games? So, the sooner the MLS teams are out of it, the better. The MLS gets no monetary benefits from their clubs playing in the USOC, outside of a small monetary prize for the teams that reach the final.

  12. Yeah, about the attendance. I was at the Fire USOC game last night and I really wish I wasn’t. It was quite possibly the most boring game of soccer i’ve ever seen in my life. I’m not sure there was more than 10 shots the entire game (from either side), the officiating was horrible, and the Battery were so content on taking the game to PKs they played the same way Ghana did in the last 10 of the WC match. On the ground CONSTANTLY and refusing to get up. I’m also fairly certain they moved their entire team into the goal box and played defense the entire second half. Seriously, it was horrible, and then for us to miss three PKS..not good. It was just all around a poor display, if that’s what the USOC games look like, they should stay in the shadows as long as possible, play like that is just bad press for the MLS in general.

  13. This comes up every year when the MLS teams lose to the lower teams. Rightfully so the MLS teams don’t field their regulars until later in the CUP, which is something that is done in other leagues around the world. Look at the FA cup, Portsmouth which may as well have been a lower division club made the final.

    Man U and Liverpool lost in the 3rd round. If the reserves get them far in the cup then they bring in the regulars.

    It wouldn’t shock me if the Sounders lose tonight, although Portland usually manages to find a way to lose in a cup competetion

  14. The Cup winner does get a CONCACAF spot, but I doubt most MLS teams even want to play in the CL, judging by the weak efforts displayed by MLS teams in the tourny so far. Our squads aren’t deep enough, and the rewards are great enough, for our teams go far.

    Of course that all comes to an end this season, with the Galaxy winning it all

  15. No team can reach CONCACAF CCL through this tournie!?!?

    That totally sucks! Besides MLS teams not caring, it doesn’t really give lower division teams to be competitive either.

  16. Lanc
    I am calling you out on this one. I am from central PA and I am quite sure no high school team beat the City Islanders let alone even played them. Care to share your high school?
    Tell your stories somewhere else..

  17. MLS does need to win them, BUT, the MLS coaches are in a bad spot. The games mean almost nothing to the players and coaches. No money, little prestige. The MLS doesn’t have a reserve league either. So the MLS coaches keep the starters fresh and give time to the youngsters. Unfortunately the young MLS guys are a strung together team playing a Div 2 side that has been gelling together for a few months with a roster full of guys getting real game time on the field. Even EPL sides get upset by lower divisions (look at last year) so it is no surprise to me to see these div 2 sides win a game. Under these conditions I am surprised they don’t win more.

  18. Teams all over other countries lose to lower division sides during their cup competitions.
    Look at Real Madrid!! lost 4-0 to a division 3 team.

  19. But this is true for almost any cup in any league. I know when i catch the Portuguese cup anything but the last one or two rounds has nothing for attendance

  20. Hahaha Ianc, that is the best thing i have heard all day. I just think its so sad that the turn outs are so poor for these games. Like it’s been stated before MLS needs to win these games to keep reminding people why they are division 1.

  21. haha Bulls lost to City Islanders. My high school team beat a full strength City Islanders team in a scrimmage 2 years ago. haha

  22. I think the MLS is missing a really marketing opportunity through the US Open Cup. For example, all MLS team should have to play on the road if they are facing a lower-division team. This condition would have two effects. One, it avoids the embarrassment of having to play in empty stadiums. Two, it would expose the MLS specifically and soccer generally in smaller markets.

  23. MLS needs to get it together , losing to lower division sides is unexceptable, regardless if they care or not, No disrespect to the USL because there are some solid sides capable of taking down MLS clubs and play decent soccer, but seriously fielding reserve players in a domestic cup championship is pretty low, I really do hope that they bring back the reserve league, that is key to young players that don’t start or play much to be still getting consistent playing time and stay match fit. I guess until the reserve league returns, U.S. Open Cup.

  24. While I like the USOC and think it has a great tradition, it really has little to no importance for most MLS teams. For proof, just look to the fact that most MLS teams field young or returning players from injury. Since nobody seems to take it serious, it is hardly a shocker to see small turn-outs.

    So what is needed to make the USOC better? I think more money (never hurts), chances to get to the CONCACAF Champions League, and MLS getting a reserve league back so the teams don’t have to use USOC as a player development league or to fine tune returning injured players.

  25. Thanks for the update, Ives/Zilis. Great effort Aztex. Sucks that only 2.5k showed up to watch the Fire. Wish we could get a better following around the country.

    What did the rest of the attendace around the league look like?


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