Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is not a tournament that garners a great deal of attention in the U.S. and rarely has. But yesterday was not a banner day for the top flight of American soccer and a growing indication that the USL, the second, third and fourth divisions of American soccer are showing that they can get it done sometimes in this tournament.

Since the arrival of MLS into the tournament in 1996, the Rochester Rhinos won the competition in 1999, the only USL team to do so.

But the tournament this year could see a USL team raise the Dewar Trophy. Yesterday was not a banner day for MLS clubs as Columbus lost in penalty kicks to Rocherster (USL-1), Wilmington (USL-2) bested Chicago, Harrisburg (USL-2) upset New England in extra time, Charleston (USL-1) put the smack down on Chivas USA. Only DC United and Kansas City of the MLS advanced last night but only barely.

DC has to struggle until the 74th minute before going ahead against the only amatuer team left in the competition, the Ocean City (NJ) Barons. The Barons had more than a few chances and were the recipient of some controversial calls against them. Kansas City had to advance on penalty kicks against Minnesota (USL-1).

The marquee game of the round will be Portland v. Seattle, two teams that last year played in USL-1 and in two years will face each other in the MLS. The rivalry between these clubs extends for over 30 years going back to the NASL. In another match tonight, Houston will face the USL-1 expansion team Austin Azteks.

DC United will not face another MLS team until the final assuming they advance that far.

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