Blog

U.S. Open Cup

13 August 10:16 am

Looking back on losses is hardly fun to do, though it's an important exercise -- a reminder of what was and what might have been.

The Fire and Sounders have battled plenty in league play over the years but its Open Cup gameday and the two teams met in the 2011 Final.

A Fire side in the midst of a second half of the season playoff push (not unlike this year), heroically navigated their way to the 2011 final in Seattle. Having to balance important games on either side of the Open Cup clash, the team went to CenturyLink Field as underdogs (just like tonight), going up against the Sounders without the ailing Sebastian Grazzini.

The gameplan was sound enough. Marco Pappa, now a Sounder, had a decent chance for the Fire during the first half while the Men in Red survived two Seattle attempts off the bar. Finally the dam broke as Fredy Montero pounced on a rebound before Osvaldo Alonso iced the game late.

Re-watch the match:

I know you're asking why I made you sit through that. That's because even in defeat, Fire supporters rallied around the team following the match, with nearly every Fire fan in Seattle consoling AND congratulating the team at the hotel bar following the match. It made it all more digestable and remains one of my favorite Fire memories of all-time.

Since you did go through that, here's another video you'll enjoy more:

09 July 9:31 pm

Select shots from the Fire's 3-1 win over the Silverbacks.

26 June 12:12 am

Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop

Opening remarks

“It’s always good to win any match, and I think that on the basis of the play we had, especially the first half, I thought we deserved to win the game. So, obviously, the red card for Parkhurst makes a difference in the match, but I still felt from that, we went on and had a good performance. To score four goals in any game – although we got an extra 30 minutes to do that – is good. Pleased for the guys. You know, the Crew made it difficult. We went up and then we go down. But we came back into it, good substitutions by the staff, if I do say so myself, to bring Juan on.  But Juan’s been waiting for a chance, and I was very happy for him to get two goals tonight.”

On Juan Luis Anangono’s performance

“If you look at Juan’s production, especially maybe earlier when he’s played a little more minutes…I forget the game we had at home, he got brought down for the penalty kick. He scored a goal in one of the games. He missed the PK. He could’ve scored that one. So, what I will say about Juan is he’s a terrific professional. He’s been right with the team all along, with not getting many minutes because of Quincy’s play I feel like. But what I like about him is the way he goes about it. He tries very hard for the team. And I’m very, very happy for him to get the two goals tonight.”

On Mike Magee’s status

“He got clocked in the ankle when I think it was Kevan George caught him with the challenge. So we’ll see how he is, but I’m not sure right now.”

On what changed in the second half

“I said to our guys at halftime ‘they’re going to make changes’ because I thought we outplayed them completely the first half. So I said, ‘Expect to see changes.’ And I think that the goal from Anor, he made a difference. They were more forceful. They tried to quickly counter attack on us. And to be honest, they did a good job. And I think that until we kind of figured it out towards the end of the game, we were in a bit of trouble. So again, we’ve got to be better at doing a 90-minute game and making sure that we see it through and do our thing. But what I will say is that the fighting spirit in the guys to come back again and to go on and win the game is great. It’d just be nice to put a good performance of 2 or 3 to nil at some point. It’d be nice, but we’re not there yet. We’re trying hard. And I can’t fault the guys for effort at all. They’ve been great.”

On making adjustments throughout the game

“We were down in the game, so we have to push it. Bringing on Alex is a bit more attacking minded than putting Logan in his role. Juan’s a forward, he wants to score goals. Bringing him on obviously is key. I just wanted to bring on a fresh defender with Jhon. I felt that Columbus was getting into the game with the quick breaks. I wanted to make sure that we shored that up a little bit. You know, I was pleased with the subs that came on. They did a nice job. And I think the whole team responded when we did that.”

Chicago Fire forward Juan Luis Anangono

On the opportunity to come into the game and be a hero

“The team worked hard to get all the goals and I’m personally happy to have scored the two goals. I think the whole team are heroes. The whole team worked hard. This is a team, we’re 11 players and seven subs and other players that are all helping the team. This is a team, there isn’t one hero. If there’s a hero, it’s the team. We all have the characteristics and we’re all ready to play. Who plays and who doesn’t is the decision of the coach. I think the coach does what is best for the team, thinking of who will help the team. I believe we’re all good players and we all need to be ready to help at whatever moment.”

Chicago Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On using the Open Cup games to help turn things around over the break

“It’s just about the will to win, and taking care of the things we should. I think that having two home games in the Open Cup is a good opportunity for us to get into a rhythm. We’ve had some injuries and we’ve gotten some guys back. Right now we’re just finding a way to win and build on that heading back into the regular season.”

 On how this will help going back to MLS play next week

“The guys that are playing in these games are probably the guys that will be playing once the regular season starts up again, so I think it’s about everyone developing a rhythm and understanding each other.  If we can create goals we can start to see patterns of play we like to do and hopefully we can carry those in the regular season again.”

On training during the break

“I think over the past couple of weeks it’s just been about getting bodies back.  For a while there we were pretty thin, and now it’s about getting everyone back, veteran guys, healthy and training hard again because we have trained well the last couple of weeks and I think it’s showing in games. 

Chicago Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa

On coming back in the second half to get the result

“We just battled. Unfortunately, we let them score two unanswered [goals].  After we came in at halftime, we said we wanted to come out on front foot, but we dug in. Juan [Luis Anangono] came off the bench and really made an impact on the game, he helped us tie it up and the rest is history.”

On Columbus’ play in the second half:

“When you’re the team on the road and down a goal at halftime, you don’t have anything to lose.  So, you kind of throw everything but the kitchen sink at the home team, and that second goal kind of just fell their way.  I don’t think there’s any kind of defensive error from thinking about it.  I’d have to go back and look at the tape, he just happened to be at the right place at the right time and took advantage of it and they capitalized.”

Columbus Crew Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

On the match:

“I thought it was a good game.  We put a different system into play and the guys knew about it at the last moment.  We wanted to try something.  We got a lot out of that exercise.  I’m proud of the way they adapted to the system, and proud of the way they played the game.  Specifically, the second half, where I thought we were extremely dominant.”

On rallying his team at half time:

“We weren’t confident in our movement in terms of how we were executing what we designed.  The message was positive.  All things considered, it’s a good job.  Now here’s what we can do to make it even better.  The guys did that, especially in the second half.  They played really well.”

On Arrieta’s goal:

“It was a great goal.  Great move.  Good finish.  It was good.  We need Jairo to score those goals.  He had some other chances as well and we want him to be dangerous.”

On the team’s defensive 5-man posture tonight:

“It was good.  We honestly gave them this today.  So having said that, I think they did a great job.  It was something where we felt we wanted to take a look at.  We thought we could expose some things of theirs and take advantage of an organized back line.”

On Chicago’s equalizer late in the second half:

“If I take anything from the game, I’m most disappointed with that.  I think that when you are at that stage of the game, you got to be disciplined enough to carry it out.  And I would say it’s a little bit of the guys who haven’t been getting enough minutes.  They weren’t comfortable in that position.  Chicago is putting more pressure on us, and we just needed to be brave and keep playing.  I thought we stopped doing that.  As a result, we got punished.”

Columbus Crew Midfielder Bernardo Anor

On the match:

“It was a crazy game.  I think we had the opportunity to close down the match.  We started to lose 1-0, and then we went up 2-1, and then 7 minutes left we let them tie the game which leads us to overtime.  Then we give up two goals.  That killed the game so we should have done better towards the end of the game.”

On coming back to take the lead in the second half:

“A lot of new guys on the field.  For all of us, we need to hold ourselves accountable to do whatever it takes to get a ‘w’ and I think the performance for most of the guys was pretty impressive.  We were trying out a new system and it’s the first time we did such a thing.  Some of the things we did out there we are forced to take home and assess them, and get better at them.”

On his goal scored in the 70th minute:

“Speas was coming in with his right foot and I was just making the run to play me through and I decided to shoot the goal.  I gathered the rebound and saw it was wide open and got it with my left foot.”

On his thoughts on the new system:

“It’s a transition game, pretty much.  Having five in the back, we knew that Chicago was going to have one of the guys come in pretty deep and have the ball so one of the purposes for one of the 3 center backs to release his man and come help us in the middle.  So by the time we win the ball, we got to push all the backs forward and get numbers up.  I think we’re going to do a better job in doing that.  Again, it’s the first time but I think working on it we can pull it off.”

On returning to playing FC Dallas on Saturday in league play:

“We don’t like losing of course, but I think the positive thing is we will be 100% in getting those 3 points against Dallas.  We need to focus on that so now our priority is to get good rest and our mind ready for the game.”

25 June 11:42 pm

Select shots from the Fire's win over the Crew.

24 June 10:06 am

If the experience around last week's 2-1 weather-shortened victory over Pittsburgh felt familiar, that's only because it was.

The game was just over a year on from a Fire Open Cup match vs. the Columbus Crew that never got off the ground on the original June 12 date as sever thunderstorms crashed in on Chicagoland throughout that night.

Instead the game was rescheduled for a noon kickoff the following day, with the Fire giving FREE entry to all fans that could make it Toyota Park for the match.

Take a trip down memory lane with highlights from that game:

Good news! Wednesday's kickoff forecast is perfect soccer weather: partly cloudy, with a temperature of 65 degrees and only 10% precipitation.

Get your tickets to the match here and book your place on $10 Pub to Pitch buses from Cleo's, The Globe and Fado at www.pubtopitch.com

16 May 2:04 pm

The Fourth Round draw for the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup occurred Friday morning at Soccer House in downtown Chicago and with MLS teams entering at this stage, the process was much more elaborate than the straight forward flips from last week’s Third Round draw.

Before I lay out how it unfolded, a few bullets to keep in mind…

  • I was incorrect in my earlier tweets and statements that a USL PRO affiliate could not be matched with its partner MLS club. I’m a busy guy and sometimes you just have to admit you’re not perfect, sorry!
  • The only affiliate relationship that needed to be separated for this draw was that of the LA Galaxy and LA Galaxy II who are both owned by the same party.
  • USL PRO side Orlando City and their PDL side Orlando City U-23s, are both in the tournament but could not be matched up at this stage as MLS teams must be matched with a lower league pairing.
  • Chivas USA was the only MLS club to not apply to host a Fourth Round Open Cup match.

With those done, I will underscore that the most important principle to keep in mind for how pairings are determined comes from Page 7 of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup Handbook. It states:

“After each Third Round pairing has been determined, each Division I (MLS) team entering in the Fourth Round will be matched geographically to play the winner of a specific Third Round pairing. Instances where a logical geographic fit doesn’t exist will be resolved by random selection."

Jeff Crandall attends the fourth round draw for the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Soccer House on May 16, 2014
As all business as a selfie can be prior to walking into Soccer House...

Upon arrival to Soccer House, Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller handed me a sheet of paper with four geographic groupings, plus a wild card pool. The most straightforward grouping was the top table which featured eight Third Round matchups across from eight MLS teams that made “a logical geographic fit” with those lower league pairings.

The pairings with the result of the coin flip are below. Teams that are not bolded either did not have a suitable home venue or didn’t apply to host (U.S. Soccer did not distinguish the reason on this sheet).

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X Brooklyn Italians SC (NPSL)/New York Cosmos (NASL)   New York Red Bulls (MLS)
  Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Indy Eleven (NASL) X Columbus Crew (MLS)
  RWB Adria (USASA)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP) X Chicago Fire (MLS)
  Minnesota United FC (NASL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA X Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
  Laredo Heat (PDL)/Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) X Houston Dynamo (MLS)
  NTX Rayados (USASA)/San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) X FC Dallas (MLS)
X Arizona United SC (USLP)/Oklahoma City Energy FC (USLP)   LA Galaxy (MLS)
  Fresno Fuego (PDL)/Sacramento Republic (USLP) X San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

For the local Fire fans, I was able to take OFFICIAL VIDEO documenting the Fire's winning coin flip:

The second grouping of matchups pooled three Northeast MLS sides with three lower league pairings. Of note here, Marstaller said that because the Harrisburg City Islanders and Baltimore Bohemians are about equidistant to D.C. United and Philadelphia Union, a flip off between the two sides would be done to determine which club would host the winner of that Third Round Matchup.

Based on alphabet, D.C. United was assigned heads and Philadelphia tails, with the Union winning. Because neither Harrisburg or Baltimore applied to host, no flip was necessary as hosting rights defaulted to the Union. 

LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS FLIP ASSIGNMENT
Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) D.C. United
Philadelphia Union
Heads
Tails

United's loss on their first flip resulted in them moving down to the next pairing of two lower league matchups where a similar flip had to occur between New York Greek American Atlas/Richmond Kickers and Reading United AC/Rochester Rhinos to determind who would be D.C.'s opponent.

FLIP ASSIGNMENT LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAM
Heads New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)
Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)
D.C. United
Tails

Again, determined by alphabet, the New York/Richmond matchup was assigned heads while the other was assigned tails and the coin again flipped to tails matching D.C. United with Reading/Rochester.

This moved New York/Richmond down to a matchup with the New England Revolution and then flips were done to determine the hosting rights for those two matchups with both lower league matchups winning with heads. For the purpose of clarity, here is how that final grouping looked:

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
  Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) N/A Philadelphia Union
X Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)   D.C. United
X New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)   New England Revolution

The third grouping was a product of Chivas USA being the only MLS club not to apply for hosting rights. Because of this, Marstaller needed to pair them with lower league matchups in which both clubs applied to host, of which there were two: Atlanta Silverbacks/Chattanooga FC (heads) and Charlotte Eagles/Carolina Railhawks (tails).

A coin flip was done to see who would host Chivas and landed tails giving Charlotte/Carolina the hosting rights. This pushed Atlanta/Chattanooga down to the very ending “Wild Card Pool”.

FLIP ASSIGNMENT LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAM
Heads Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)
Charlotte Eagles (USLP)/Carolina RailHawks (NASL)
Chivas USA
Tails

The fourth pool featured the PSA Elite/LA Galaxy II matchup paired against four MLS teams that were within geographical proximity. While both lower-league teams are based in Southern California, because PSA Elite also did not apply to host, Chivas USA could not be thrown into this group.

The most interesting part of the process Friday was the flip-off between four MLS clubs to determine who would play Galaxy II/PSA Elite.

Again determined by alphabet, Colorado/Portland and Real Salt Lake/Seattle Sounders did a preliminary flip. Both losers in that round (Portland & Real Salt Lake) were moved into the final Wild Card pairing, then Colorado and Seattle did a final flip, with Seattle winning again (which should keep Sigi Schmid somewhat happy) and Colorado also falling to the Wild Card group.

LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS
PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP) Colorado Rapids
Portland Timbers
Heads
Tails
Heads
Real Salt Lake
Seattle Sounders
Heads
Tails
Tails

One final flip was done to determine the hosting rights for that match with Galaxy II/PSA Elite winning and presumably, since PSA Elite did not apply to host, Sigi will be their biggest fan.

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP)   Seattle Sounders

After all the flips above were done, the Wild Card pool looked like the below table, with MLS clubs placed on the right according to alphabetical order. Because of the odd number of matchups, coin flips could not be used to determine who would play each other so Marstaller placed three slips of paper marked “A”, “B” and “C” into plain envelopes. As the matchup moved down from the initial Chivas USA grouping, Atlanta/Chattanooga was assigned “C” while the other two lower-league pairings were assigned “A” and “B” based on alphabetic order.

WILD CARD POOL
Letter LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS
A
B
C
Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP)
Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)
Colorado Rapids
Portland Timbers
Real Salt Lake

Marstaller then went down the alphabetic list of MLS sides and drew the slips of paper from the envelopes. When all three matchups had been finalized, final flips for hosting rights occurred, concluding the fourth round Open Cup draw. You can see how the envelopes were drawn and the winner of the flips below:

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
  Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP) X Colorado Rapids
X Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)   Portland Timbers
X Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)   Real Salt Lake

Following the draw, Marstaller said the published fourth round scenarios would not be accompanied Friday by match dates yet. This is because the Fourth Round has three possible match dates over an eight-day span. With USL PRO and the PDL, along with amateur sides having league games between the June 10-18 Fourth Round window, all clubs that have the potential to host a Fourth Round match will have the weekend to give their preferred hosting date before U.S. Soccer balances the already scheduled league games. Because of the logistical process, hosting dates are expected to be announced sometime next week. 

A comprehensive list of who won hosting coin flips can be found below.

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X Brooklyn Italians SC (NPSL)/New York Cosmos (NASL)   New York Red Bulls (MLS)
  Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Indy Eleven (NASL) X Columbus Crew (MLS)
  RWB Adria (USASA)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP) X Chicago Fire (MLS)
  Minnesota United FC (NASL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA X Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
  Laredo Heat (PDL)/Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) X Houston Dynamo (MLS)
  NTX Rayados (USASA)/San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) X FC Dallas (MLS)
X Arizona United SC (USLP)/Oklahoma City Energy FC (USLP)   LA Galaxy (MLS)
  Fresno Fuego (PDL)/Sacramento Republic (USLP) X San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
  Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) N/A Philadelphia Union
X Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)   D.C. United
X New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)   New England Revolution
N/A Charlotte Eagles (USLP)/Carolina RailHawks (NASL)   Chivas USA
X PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP)   Seattle Sounders
  Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP) X Colorado Rapids
X Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)   Portland Timbers
X Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)   Real Salt Lake

Thanks again to the U.S. Soccer staff for being great hosts once again!

08 May 5:35 pm

As I did much of last year, I was excited to be invited back to Soccer House, headquarters of the U.S. Soccer Federation, for Thursday’s third round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw.

I was joined on Prairie Street by Indy Eleven President Peter Wilt, who was there to witness his club’s first Open Cup coin flip.

If you read some of my Open Cup draw articles last year, you might have seen a very complicated process which involved bigger groupings of geographical possibilities, numbering pieces of paper and drawing from envelopes before any coins were flipped.

None of that was the case on Thursday as Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller was able to fit all potential third round matchups in to "logical geographic pairings" so only coin flips needed to take place.

For the Open Cup nerds out there, this may disappoint you and if you'd rather go no further, I suggest you just read U.S. Soccer's official release on the potential third round pairings. If you would still like to know some of the interesting intricacies of the day's happenings, keep reading: 

  • Five lower-league professional sides did not apply to host third round matches: USL PRO's Harrisburg City Islanders, Orange County Blues, Arizona United SC, Oklahoma City Energy FC and NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks.
  • As they did last year, USL PRO's Dayton Dutch Lions did apply to host but their field does not meet U.S. Soccer's competition requirements (a common theme here). Their second round opponent, North Chicago side Schwaben AC also applied to host but their venue does not meet requirements as well. 
  • Why would both clubs apply to host if they didn't meet requirements? While it's unlikely it would happen, supposing the opponent that pair was matched up with also didn't meet field or venue requirements or didn't apply to host, U.S. Soccer could then award hosting rights to either club. In the case of Dayton/Schwaben, because Indy Eleven applied to host and their home venue meets requirements, a coin flip did not occur for this matchup. 
  • Another interesting example of this was on the last flip of the round in the matchup of Cal FC / LA Galaxy II and PSA Elite / San Diego Flash. Of the four teams, only LA Galaxy II's venue met requirements, while both PSA Elite and San Diego Flash applied to host although neither team's field met requirements. So in the case that Cal FC won, the winner of the PSA Elite / San Diego Flash match would host a third round match up by default.
  • With USL PRO's Charleston Battery having the only suitable host venue in their potential match up (they play the PDL's Panama City Pirates in Round 2), they automatically were rewarded hosting rights should they advance to a third round matchup against the winner of Jacksonville United FC / Orlando City U23s. Jacksonville United did apply to host but their home venue was deemed not to fit stadium requirements. However, should Charleston lose and Jacksonville win, the NPSL side would host Panama City in the third round. Should both Panama City and Orlando City win, because neither applied for hosting rights, U.S. Soccer would quickly quoroum with both clubs to figured out a host for a third round match. 
     
  • USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads applied to host but their field was also deemed unsuitable. Paired with NPSL's Chattanooga FC in the second round, should Wilmington win, they would host by default as Atlanta Silverbacks did not apply to do so. 
  • Because of some of these differing scenarios, coin flips did not occur as matchups defaulted to a suitable host team. 

Complete Third Round U.S. Open Cup Grid (as I saw it today).

BOLD: Applied to host; Venue meets requirements
ITALICS: Applied to host, Field width doesn't meet requirements
BOLD ITALICS: Applied to host; Venue doesn't meet requirements
N/A - Matchups where coin flips did not occur because of hosting defaults

HEADS FLIP TAILS FLIP
Greater Binghamton Thunder (NPSL)/Reading United (PDL)   W. Mass. Pioneers (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP) X
Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)/Jersey Express (PDL)   New York Cosmos (NASL) X
NY Greek Americans (USASA)/Ocean City Nor'easters (PDL) X Richmond Kickers (USLP)/RVA FC (NPSL)  
Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Lehigh Valley Utd. (NPSL) X Icon FC (USASA)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL)  
NY Red Bulls U-23 (NPSL)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP) X RWB Adria (USASA)/Michigan Bucks (PDL)  
Carolina Dynamo (PDL)/Charlotte Eagles (USLP)   Carolina Railhawks (NASL) X
Wilmington Hammerheads (USLP)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL) N/A Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)  
Jacksonville United (NPSL)/Orlando City U23s (PDL)   Panama City Pirates (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP) N/A
Ocala Stampede (PDL)/Orlando City (USLP) x Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)  
Red Force (USASA)/Laredo Heat (PDL)   Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) X
Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Schwaben AC (USASA)   Indy Eleven (NASL) N/A
NTX Rayados (USASA)/Austin Aztex (PDL)   San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) N/A
Real Colorado Foxes (PDL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA) X Minnesota United SC (NASL)  
Oklahoma City Energy (USLP)/Tulsa Athletics (NPSL)   Arizona United SC (USLP)/Portland Timbers U23 (PDL) X
Orange County Blues (USLP)/Fresno Fuego (PDL)   Sacramento Republic (USLP)/Ventura County Fusion (PDL) X
Cal FC (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USL Pro) N/A PSA Elite (USASA)/San Diego Flash (NPSL)  

Thank you again to U.S. Soccer for allowing me to play witness to the draw once again. Chicago-Fire.com plans to bring coverage of the fourth round draw procedure when it occurs next week. 

08 May 8:33 am

The first round of the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off across the country with seven matches (and a forfeit) Wednesday night.

Of note, three games went to extra time with two of those going to penalty kicks. One of the matches decided in a shootout was that of local side RWB Adria downing NPSL darlings Detroit City FC 3-1 on penalties after playing to a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Hot Time in Old Town's Sean Spence live tweeted the match from Livonia Stevenson High School in suburban Detroit where Adria took an early lead through Vlad Baciu in the 20th minute. Fueled by the always raucous DCFC partisans, the home side took a 2-1 lead with second half goals from Tyler Arnone and former Colorado Rapids defender Kevin Taylor in the 71st and 77th minutes respectively.

Baciu bagged a dramatic brace in the dying moments of regulation to send the match to extra time where both teams saw two players sent off and neither could find a goal in the 30 extra minutes. Adria played the spoiler connecting with three of their penalties to see out Detroit City FC and set up a return date to Detroit next week where they'll face perennial U.S. Open Cup spoilers Michigan Bucks next Wednesday, May 14.

Adria will be joined in the second round by another local Chicago side, Schwaben AC, who host USL PRO's Dayton Dutch Lions in Arlington Heights next Wednesday at 4pm CT. 

These games should be of interest for Fire fans as the regional groupings make sense for a potential fourth round match up (where MLS teams enter the tournament).

Other Notes:

  • The tournament saw it's first forfeit in a decade as USASA side Corinthians were forced to withdraw from their match against the San Diego Flash due to not being able to obtain international clearance for their players in time to play the match. TheCup.US has more information on this intriguing story
  • Kudos to U.S. Soccer for upping their coverage of the tournament this year by introducing a "Game of the Round" which streamed on the Federation's official site Wednesday night. The chosen match saw the USL Premier Development League's Western Mass Pioneers down USASA side GPS Massachusetts 4-1 to advance to the second round. Catch the archive of the match here.
  • With the first round done and second round matches set, U.S. Soccer will conduct the tournament's third round draw at Soccer House in Chicago this afternoon. Chicago-Fire.com will once again be a witness at the festivities and have a full account of how the matchups happened later Thusday. 

For more information on the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, please visit USsoccer.com and the tournament's unofficial site TheCup.us.

24 April 1:08 pm

The beginning road for the 101st edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was set Thursday with the U.S. Soccer Federation releasing the new tournament format, first round and potential second round pairings. 

Of note, the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will feature the largest-ever tournament field with 80 teams participating, smashing the previous record of 68 teams set last year. Forty-two of the 80 participating teams are amateur sides, breaking the previous record of 34 (also set in 2013). Also of note, all professional teams at Division I, II and III levels are participating in the competition for the third straight year. 

The Chicago Fire will join the Open Cup party in the tournament's fourth round, set to be played June 10-18. In case you need a local Open Cup fix, two Illinois-based amateur sides are in the tournament as RWB Adria returns along with Schwaben AC.

Adria visits NPSL side Detroit City FC in a first round match up on Wednesday, May 7 at Stevenson High School in Livonia, Mich., while Schwaben will enter play in the tournament's second round when they host USL PRO side Dayton Dutch Lions on Wednesday, May 14 at 4:00pm CT at Schwaben Athletic Club in Buffalo Grove, Ill. 

Check out the full tournament format and first and second round pairings with U.S. Soccer's official release here. For more in depth coverage on the 101st edition of the Open Cup, visit www.thecup.us and follow @USOpenCup on Twitter!