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US Soccer

U.S. Soccer Statement Regarding 2018 Open Cup Quarterfinal Round

Earlier today, the Portland Timbers officially informed the U.S. Open Cup Commissioner it has withdrawn its protest in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal match at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. 

Here is a statement from U.S. Soccer on the situation:

“After a thorough review of the Portland Timbers’ official protest, it has been determined that the inclusion of additional foreign players was a result of a good faith misunderstanding among U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and Los Angeles Football Club. Each organization involved has agreed to determine an improved process to ensure this will not happen again. In recognition of this fact, the Timbers have gracefully withdrawn their protest.”
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U.S. Open Cup Jul 20, 2018
US Soccer

2018 U.S. Open Cup Semifinal and Final Draw Postponed

CHICAGO (July 19, 2018) – U.S. Soccer has announced the Draw to determine hosts for the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinals and hosting priority for the Final has been postponed.

The decision comes as a result of a protest filed by the Portland Timbers in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

The U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel will review the matter as soon as possible. The timing for the Draw will be determined in the near future.


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U.S. Open Cup Jul 19, 2018
US Soccer

Union, Fire, Dynamo and LAFC Make Up Final Four of 2018 U.S. Open Cup

CHICAGO (July 18, 2018) – The Quarterfinals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, delivered a quartet of Division I Major League Soccer (MLS) sides into the final four of the competition which will be held on Aug. 8. The Final Draw to determine which clubs will host the Semifinal matches and the hosting priority for the Final will be broadcast from Soccer House, U.S. Soccer’s headquarters, in Chicago on Thursday, July 19 at 1:45 p.m. ET on ussoccer.com and Facebook Live.

MLS outfits Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo and first-year club Los Angeles FC advanced through various means on Wednesday night. Chicago and Houston both chalked up four goals apiece en route to lopsided wins. The Fire scored a 4-0 home win against the last remaining Division II side Louisville City FC, while the Dynamo broke out in the second half to defeat defending Open Cup champion Sporting Kansas City 4-2 in east Texas.

The Union rode an early goal from Alejandro Bedoya to a 1-0 win against visiting Orlando City SC before LAFC finished off the night in Southern California by downing fellow MLS Western Conference foe Portland Timbers 3-2 in a simmering match that may yet boil into a wider rivalry between the two clubs.

Quarterfinal Results

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Result

Venue

July 18

Philadelphia Union (MLS) vs.Orlando City SC (MLS)

1-0

Talen Energy Stadium; Chester, Pa.

July 18

Chicago Fire (MLS) vs. Louisville City FC (USL)

4-0

Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.

July 18

Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. Sporting Kansas City (MLS)

4-2

BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas

July 18

Los Angeles FC (MLS) vs. Portland Timbers (MLS)

3-2

Banc of California Stadium; Los Angeles, Calif.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18
Philadelphia Union (MLS) 1, Orlando City SC (MLS) 0
After some cagey opening jabs at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., the Union took the first half by force and had only wasteful finishing to blame for not scoring more than once. The goal they did get came early, after four minutes, when captain and U.S. National Team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya poked home a corner-kick from Haris Medunjanin that was headed across goal by Fafa Picault. Orlando City, far from stung into response, failed to find a foothold as the home team kept up the pressure in the first 45. In the 18th minute, David Accam was on the attack when he latched onto a clever quickly taken free-kick from Medunjanin, but the Ghanaian could only see his shot well saved by the diving Earl Edwards Jr. The visitors, playing their first Open Cup game under new coach James O’Connor, had their best chance of the opening half seven minutes from the interval when Will Johnson rose to meet a chipped-in ball and forced Union goalkeeper Andre Blake into a fine diving save. Philly’s first half of poor finishing was capped off by another messy one from Dokcal, who spurned an earlier chance from a similar position. The Czech midfielder fired high and wide from ten yards out when all he had to do was pass Bedoya’s low cross into the net.

The second half saw the visitors try to come out of their shell and assert themselves on the contest, but to little avail. Cory Burke held the ball up brilliantly in the 52nd minute and whipped in a wicked shot with his left foot that had Orlando City keeper Edwards scrambling to push it up over the bar. The home side were still in control when Orlando City decided to commit more to the attack in hope of an equalizer. Second-half substitute Stefano Pinho, who was co-top scorer in last year’s Open Cup with NASL outfit Miami FC, crossed low in the 80th minute only for Sacha Kljestan – a runner-up last year with New York Red Bulls – to hit his off-balance shot straight at the Union keeper. And despite a handful of chances up the other end from the outstanding Picault, the score remained 1-0 all the way through the 90th minute and stoppage-time. The Union, losing Open Cup Finalists in 2014 and 2015, will now play Chicago Fire in the Semifinals in August.

Chicago Fire (MLS) 4, Louisville City FC (USL) 0
Louisville City, the lone remaining USL second-division side in the 2018 Open Cup Quarterfinals, gave good account of themselves in the first quarter-hour at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. But as last year’s MLS Golden Boot winner tends to do, Nemanja Nikolic broke hearts in the 16th minute. He headed home an inch-perfect cross from the left from Aleksandar Katai for his fourth goal of the tournament; he previous scored two against Columbus Crew and one against Atlanta United. And it was only the beginning for the four-time Open Cup champs from the Second City, who made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute. Nikolic, with nine league goals in MLS this term, was again involved – his blocked shot falling to Bastian Schweinsteiger alone in the penalty area. The FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League winner took his time and picked out Katai, who hammered into the roof of the net after racing in off the left side where he was nothing short of dominant all night. Louisville City, led by a trio of player-coaches after the recent departure of James O’Connor and reeling in the dying moments of the opening period, were fortunate not to concede again before the interval.

Chicago were in the driver’s seat in the second half and only a sprawling save from Tim Dobrowolski kept Nikolic from making it 3-0 for the home side in the 58th minute. Lou City, defending United Soccer League champions from 2017, had little to offer in the way of possession or attack and were reduced to ten men in the 84th minute when Kyle Smith left a little on Tony Tchani in a midfield tackle. The wheels seemed to fall off for the second-division side after that, with Diego Campos making it 3-0 in the 90th minute when he chased the ball down and poked it off the toe of Dobrowolski, who dallied instead of clearing. Stoppage time saw another Chicago goal, a close-range finish from the lanky Elliot Collier, and another red card for Lou City – this time for Magnus Rasmussen who struck Tchani off the ball. In the end, the Fire were worthy 4-0 winners and will now move on to meet Philadelphia Union in next month’s Semifinal.

Houston Dynamo (MLS) 4, Sporting Kansas City (MLS) 2
A goal fest exploded in Houston between the Dynamo and last year’s Open Cup champion Sporting Kansas City with the Texas side ultimately prevailing 4-2 thanks to three-goal second half. Proceedings started off with a bang as Johnny Russell stole in behind the Dynamo defense on a long run out of midfield in just the second minute. Bearing down on goal, Russell coolly drew out Houston goalkeeper Chris Seitz before rolling a shot just past the netminder’s right leg and into the vacated net. It would be 30 minutes until the hosts responded but when they did through the first of Romell Quioto’s two goals it was most impressive. Having won a free kick just outside the center of the box, Quioto stepped up to curl a sumptuous set piece shot over the wall and into the top left corner, knotting the match a 1-1.

After the halftime interval, Quioto struck again to give his side the advantage in the 66th minute. Darwin Cerén played a long ball from his own half over the KC defense that Quioto chested down beautifully while in full flight. The balled dropped to his feet as he entered the box and he made no mistake, slotting past the onrushing goal keeper Tim Melia. Three minutes later Mauro Manotas scored what proved to be the game winner, eventually sending in a shot off Graham Zusi after nearly blowing the chance to convert a wide-open break away. He did far better his next time up to put the Dynamo over the hills and far away, heading home a fantastic cross from Eric Alexander into the top left corner in the 88th minute. Although Sporting KC pulled back a consolation goal in stoppage time, Houston was the clear victor and moves on to face LAFC in the Semifinals.

Los Angeles FC (MLS) 3, Portland Timbers (MLS) 2
If familiarity breeds contempt, it was not evident that either Los Angeles FC, in its first year of existence as a club, or Portland Timbers, whose roots in the American game date back to the glory days of the old NASL in the 1970s, held much for the other in the teams’ second match in four days and third overall. A hard fought match simmered all evening and as the shadows grew longer the tackles flew in harder as the Timbers would not relent despite trailing for the majority of the match after two quick strikes, one an own goal by David Guzman in the 33rd minute and the second, a low drive from Carlos Vela five minutes later, put the Portland side up against the wall.

The LAFC goals had come against the run of play, but the Timbers did not hang their heads – instead, center back Julio Cascante used his to bring the Rose City side back into the match just before the stroke of half time when he nodded home a set piece in first half stoppage time to make it 2-1 to the hosts. On the other side of the break, Marco Ureña struck just six minutes into the half with a nice redirection after he was left unmarked but held onside as Portland tried to clear a LAFC attack. In less than a minute however, the Timbers struck back through a rocket from left back Vytautas Andriuskevicius that got between LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller and his near post. Locked at 3-2 with over half an hour to play, either team could have turned the tied with another goal, but shoddy finishing from Portland’s Dairon Asprilla, who was dangerous all night, and a pair of tallies for LAFC that were ruled out for offside left the scoreline settled in LA’s favor after a contentious final 15 minutes saw numerous flash points ignite between the contestants. Ultimately, LAFC moves on to chase history and face Houston in the Semifinals, as head coach Bob Bradley looks to guide his second expansion team – he coach the Chicago Fire to an Open Cup title in the club’s inaugural campaign – to Open Cup glory in its first year of existence.

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U.S. Open Cup Jul 19, 2018
US Soccer

Eight Remain: #USOC2018 Quarterfinal Preview

Things get serious in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s Quarterfinal Round. There will be no more experiments, most underdogs have been sent packing by the big boys and the tension will be ratcheted up with a place in the Semifinals on the line. Seven teams from Major League Soccer (MLS) and one from United Soccer League (USL) will play for the right to advance on Wednesday, July 18. Hearts will be broken, dreams achieved and four winners will stroll or suffer through to fight at least one more day.

Philadelphia Union – Orlando City SC
Philadelphia Union, founded in 2010, are long on Open Cup history, having recently reached the Final in two consecutive years (2014 & 2015). Coached by Jim Curtin, a two-time Cup winner as a player with the Chicago Fire, who has made the 105-year-old tournament a priority. His team sent a message in the Fourth Round with a 5-0 hiding of 1995 champions Richmond Kickers. It was followed up by a tense 2-1 win over 2017 runners-up New York Red Bulls in the Round of 16. “We were close those two years [2014 & 2015]. We were really close,” Curtin told ussoccer.com ahead of a home test in the last eight. “We were an extra time session [2014] and a PK shootout [2015] away from lifting the Cup. But we’re still hungry for a trophy as a club.”


(Philadelphia Union boss won a pair of Open Cups as a player and lost a pair of Finals as a coach)

Orlando City will be a tough test for the Union, no matter how hungry they are. Far down the MLS Eastern Conference pecking order in ninth place, the Florida side – led by 2018 Open Cup runner-up Sacha Kljestan & co-top scorer Stefano Pinho – are likely to push hard for silverware in the Cup. In what will either be a disruptive (or constructive) development, Orlando City will be playing their first Open Cup game under new coach James O’Connor, who made the jump from reigning United Soccer League (USL) champions Louisville City FC only a few weeks ago. An able coach, to be sure, he hasn’t had much time with his new squad.

Chicago Fire – Louisville City FC (USL)
On the other side of that coin, Louisville City are dealing with the departure of the only coach in their history. Add in the fact that the men from Kentucky are the sole remaining side from USL in the field and will be led by a trio of interim player-coaches, and you’d be justified in calling Lou City heavy, heavy underdogs. Crucially, however, the players don’t buy that line. “Sure, Chicago has some very good players like Basti [Schweinsteiger] and Dax [McCarty] and [Nemanja] Nikolic and the list goes on,” said George Davis IV, one of the player-coaches alongside Paolo DelPiccolo and Luke Spencer. “But at the end of the day, we’re all footballers and we want to win. We go there with nothing less in mind than a result.”


(Louisville City spark our underdog dreams as the lone remaining USL team in the Open Cup)

Chicago, for their part, are taking dead-aim at a fifth Open Cup crown and are desperate to avoid losing out to a lower-league side for a second-straight year after being sent packing by last year’s USL Cinderellas FC Cincinnati. Serb-born Striker Nikolic is in hot form in the Cup, scoring all three of the club’s goals in wins over tough MLS opposition Columbus Crew and Atlanta United. “This [Open Cup] is important for our club and for our fans,” said Nikolic, last year’s MLS Golden Boot winner. “This is our opportunity to win something. We played two of the best teams in the league in our first two games in the Cup and we played both games away. That says something about what we’re doing here.”

Houston Dynamo – Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo, in the hunt for their first-ever Open Cup title, prepare for their third tournament home game on the trot. While the coin flip has been nice to them so far, it’s unlikely that defending champions Sporting Kansas City will have much to offer in the way of generosity. The Texans went from strength to strength since beating local amateurs NTX Rayados in their opener and their slim 1-0 win over Minnesota United cemented their credentials as 2018 contenders. Mauro Manotas scored his fifth goal in the last two installments of the tournament to become the team’s all-time Cup top-scorer and captain Philippe Senderos, 33, has turned back the years with some impressive recent performances. “In a Cup, it’s as simple as it gets – you need to keep winning. It becomes a habit,” said the center-back who won the FA Cup with Arsenal in 2005 “It’s good to get wins under you belt and keep that momentum going.”


(Daniel Salloi of SKC has gone from starlet in 2017 to full-fledged shooting star this year)

Sporting Kansas City, hunting a fifth Open Cup, have been predictably ruthless so far. Aside from veterans like Roger Espinoza, Ike Opara and Tim Melia, they’ve bolstered the squad with young blood, including Frenchman Yohan Croizet, whose 89th minute winner in the Round of 16 will go down as one of the goals of the tournament. Also in fine form is Hungarian youngster Daniel Salloi, who scored in the Final last year and has become a star in his own right in 2018. “We’ve stepped it up this year. Winning the Cup last year sets expectations high, and we want to make sure we win a trophy again,” said 21-year-old Salloi. “We’ve added quality players all around and we’re focused.”

Los Angeles FC – Portland Timbers
LAFC may be be a first-year team, but they’re crawling with Open Cup champions. Among their crop of recent winners and Finalists are Benny Feilhaber and Latif Blessing (both winners last year with Sporting Kansas City), 2016 winner Walker Zimmerman formerly of FC Dallas and Lee Nguyen, who was beaten that same year in the Final while with former club New England Revolution. “I’m very lucky here,” said coach Bob Bradley, himself a two-time winner. “Between the coaching staff and the players, we have a lot of guys with Open Cup experience and Open Cup success.”


(Gio Savarese has brought a culture of winning with him to Portland)

Portland have never won an Open Cup title, but their new coach Gio Savarese won’t be happy until he wins something. Far from making the Open Cup a priority, the former NY Cosmos boss and MetroStars goal machine, has made everything a priority. The watchword of his administration is winning and he’s been backing it up so far with victories over San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy in a comfy Open Cup campaign in which the Rose City side is yet to concede a goal. “I’m not making the Open Cup a priority in Portland. It’s not about focusing on one thing over another. I insist that we compete for everything,” he said. “And I mean everything: in practice, 5-a-side, ReGen sessions… I don’t care, you better be ready to scratch and claw to win because that’s what we’re aiming for here.”

Quarterfinals - Match Center

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Time

Venue

July 18

Philadelphia Union (MLS) vs.Orlando City SC (MLS)

7 p.m. ET

Talen Energy Stadium; Chester, Pa.

July 18

Chicago Fire (MLS) vs. Louisville City FC (USL)

7:30 p.m. CT

Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.

July 18

Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. Sporting Kansas City (MLS)

7:30 p.m. CT

BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas

July 18

Los Angeles FC (MLS) vs. Portland Timbers (MLS)

7:30 p.m. PT

Banc of California Stadium; Los Angeles, Calif.

ussoccer.com is the official website of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and will provide a stream of all 16 games of the Fourth Round. Comprehensive video and written coverage of the tournament will also be available. You can follow the Open Cup on Twitter and Instagram @OpenCup and Facebook @OfficialOpenCup.

 

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U.S. Open Cup Jul 18, 2018

LAFC & Bob Bradley’s Open Cup All-Stars

Sure they’re a first-year club, but LAFC have star-power to burn in the 2018 Open Cup. “I’m very lucky here – between the coaching staff and the players, we have a lot of guys with Open Cup experience and Open Cup successes,” said Bob Bradley, himself a two-time winner of American soccer’s oldest trophy and a vocal advocate for making the Open Cup a priority for players and fans. “It’s something we can all embrace together.”

Three starters in Los Angeles FC’s first-ever Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game had either won the tournament or played in a recent Final. Latif Blessing, Lee Nguyen and Walker Zimmerman were all in from the start – and all Open Cup finalists within the last two seasons. Add in Bradley’s own experience in the Cup (five Finals under his belt) and a two-time winner, an assistant coach, in Ante Razov, who lifted the Cup three times as a player and Benny Feilhaber, ready to come off the bench as an impact-sub, and you’ve got some serious firepower, talent and Cup wisdom. One thing is clear, as it always is in Bradley-led teams: Open Cup matters.


(LAFC playmaker Benny Feilhaber won an Open Cup last year with Sporting KC)

First Trophy on Offer
“You play any sport at a high level because you want to win trophies,” Lee Nguyen, a losing Finalist with New England Revolution in 2016, told ussoccer.com. “This is a big opportunity for us to put some silverware in our cabinet. It’s our first chance to win something as a club, and a club like ours, with aspirations to win things and get to the CONCACAF Champions League, this is our first chance. We see the Cup as the start of something special.”

This thinking is straight from the Bob Bradley-playbook. The 60-year-old coach, a former USA, Egypt and Swansea City manager, recognized early on in his career the value of the Open Cup to players and fans and clubs just starting out. It’s a simple equation - trophies matter and there are only two available to teams in the American top flight. “At Chicago [Fire] we believed in the Open Cup. We had strong supporters and they cared about the Open Cup too. We decided early on that we needed to compete in it in the right way.”


(Between the coaching staff and players, LAFC are rich with Open Cup winners & recent Finalists)

The right way paid off for the coach. He won the 1998 Open Cup in his first year at the club and he repeated the trick again two years later – adding to the 1996 Open Cup title he picked up as an assistant coach to Bruce Arena at D.C. United. In addition to his three Open Cup crowns, Bradley lost a pair of Finals [1997 with D.C. United and 2003 with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars]. And it’s no coincidence that he’s assembled the team he has in LA now. For a first-year club like his, the Open Cup is a possibility and an attainable target. He’s got winners in his squad. And they know the way.

“It’s important at the end of the season to look back and have won a trophy,” said defender Walker Zimmerman, the U.S. international who was crucial in FC Dallas’ 2016 Open Cup title run. “For us, as an expansion team in our first year, the Open Cup is our first chance to win a trophy and lift it up. There’s a lot of focus on that from our side.”

Fresno & SacRep Down, Timbers Next
LAFC opened their Open Cup account with a simple win over USL second-tier pros Fresno FC in the Fourth Round. Latif Blessing, the young Ghanaian gem who starred for Sporting Kansas City in last year’s run to their fourth Open Cup title, got on the board with his third goal of the tournament in the space of two years. And the rest of Bradley’s Open Cup-tested campaigners also put in impressive performances.

“We’ve got guys who’ve been here before in the Cup,” added Zimmerman, who was a cool presence in the back against a spirited Fresno side that threw much into attack in the second half. “These guys know the simplicity of the Cup – in five games you can win a trophy. That leads to the concentration of making sure that you’re doing everything the right way, preparing the right way, because at the end of the day it may not be the easiest trophy to win, but it’s the shortest amount of games to play to win one.”


(Latif Blessing won an Open Cup last year in SKC and scored the winner for LAFC against SacRep)

It’s clear, talking to the players, that Open Cup was written on a whiteboard somewhere in the Banc of America Stadium early on after this team was assembled. Those two words were probably underlined twice and tapped with the marker. Having opened their account at home, they played there again in the Round of 16 against USL’s Sacramento – the highly motivated USL side that knocked out former champs Seattle Sounders in the last round. With a place in the Quarterfinals on the line, LAFC had to fight for it with Blessing sealing the deal with a last-second 3-2 winner. The win sets up yet another home game in sunny LA – this time against familiar MLS opposition, the 2015 league champion Portland Timbers. The two teams are separated by a handful of points and both contenders at the top of MLS’ Western Conference standings. 

“Playing at home is massive,” said Feilhaber, who knows what he’s talking about after picking up the trophy at Children’s Mercy Park with Kansas City last year. He was crucial in the turning-point win against FC Dallas in the 2017 Quarterfinal that opened the door for another winning campaign. “It’s the kind of competition where you have to put your best effort in and go through any way you can. It doesn’t need to be pretty. Open Cup games are always tough. There’s a lot that makes this tournament different, but the first thing you have to do is put yourself in the position to win it by taking it seriously.” 


(Walker Zimmerman won the Open Cup in 2016 with FC Dallas, beating LAFC teammate Lee Nguyen in the Final)

Open Cup: The Target
The Open Cup is job-one for this first-year club in the heart of LA, fittingly close to Hollywood and its dream factories. And it’s not just silverware and trophy-counts that inspire Bradley. He’s a stern and serious man, but there’s a little bit of the dreamer in him too – you can see it around the eyes when he talks about this Cup that’s meant much to him through the years. “I mean, it allows you to compete with clubs from all over the United States from all the levels,” said the respected manager. “We don’t have promotion/relegation in this country yet – maybe some day but not yet. And in the meantime the Open Cup is an opportunity for everybody, and I think when an MLS team treats it the right way, it ends up meaning a lot to the supporters of that club.”

No one knows better than Bradley and his band of Cup specialists, so many winners who know what it feels like to lift the trophy up on a warm Wednesday night in September and join rare and historic company. “We’re all pushing together for this – we agreed we’re going to go after it. We’re embracing it together,” said Bradley, as expansive as he allows himself to be in interviews. “It’s important to us and we’ve had enough of our great fans here at the stadium to know that it’s important to them too.”    

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U.S. Open Cup Jul 18, 2018
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