U.S. Open Cup: On to the Quarterfinals

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By RYAN BRISTER

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s Round of 16 was rife with drama. Two matches went to penalties, and a third was decided in second-half stoppage time. Cup dreams continued for second-division teams in Miami FC and FC Cincinnati.

Miami Moves On

The best team in the North American Soccer League’s Spring Season¬†claimed a second Major League Soccer¬†scalp with a thrilling 3-2 victory. Miami FC is advancing to the quarterfinals over Atlanta United thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Kwadwo Poku. The former New York City FC player also assisted on Miami’s first goal, which came just two minutes after Brandon Vasquez opened the scoring for United. The two sides traded goals in the second half, and seemed set for extra time until Poku’s goal in the 93rd minute.

Cincinnati Survives

The second-largest Modern Era crowd — 32,287 — in Open Cup history was on hand in Cincinnati, and after penalties, they went home happy. The Chicago Fire dominated the first half, holding 78 percent of possession, but was unable to find the net. The hosts grew into the game as it went on, and had two chances in second-half stoppage time. Neither worked out, and in extra time an apparent winner was called off for offside. Jimmy Hildebrandt¬†stood tall in goal all game for Cincy, but tallest in the penalty shootout. He made three saves to send his team to the quarterfinals. Cincinnati¬†will play at¬†Miami on July 12.

Red Bulls Win on Penalties

After losing to Philadelphia in consecutive tournaments, the Red Bulls defeated the Union in a shootout. Sacha Kljestan scored late in the first half to finish a chance created by New York’s high pressure. That lead nearly held up, but in the 86th minute, Roland Alberg¬†scored for the Union. Extra time was tilted in Philly’s favor, but the Red Bulls survived and converted all five of their penalties, while goalkeeper Ryan Meara stopped one. Of concern for the Red Bulls: two of their three starting defenders were unable to make it through regulation.¬†Aurelien Collin and Aaron Long¬†each left the game with injuries, adding further strain to limited depth at center back. The Red Bulls will face New England, a 2-1 winner of D.C. United, in Cambridge, Mass., on July 13.

SKC Overcomes Dynamo

Sporting Kansas City was the only team in the round to overcome their draw and win on the road, 2-0. They did it with two second-half goals. Despite slightly less possession, SKC had more shots on goal (7-2) than the Dynamo. Defender Ike Opara scored for the second straight game, just past the hour mark, to give the visitors the lead. The victory was sealed by Gerso Fernandes goal in stoppage time.

Sacramento’s Run Ends

Sacramento, the other remaining second-tier team in the tournament, was unceremoniously bounced by Los Angeles in a 2-0 shutout. After a scoreless first half, the Galaxy got right to work in putting the Republic away. Ari Lassiter opened the scoring with a free kick, followed quickly by a goal from Bradford Jamieson IV.