Third-Division Professional League Cannot Replicate Third-Round Success from Last Year
Fourteen USL teams participated in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night. With one match featuring a head-to-head match-up between USL clubs, thirteen had a chance to move on to the fourth round. With six victories, nearly half of those teams will advance.
The results for the current third-division professional league were pretty much as expected. The USL went 3-1 against amateur sides and 2-6 against NASL opponents. All in all, it was not a terribly disappointing evening of soccer for the league.
This year’s results, though, are an about face from the success USL clubs achieved in the third round in 2015. Last year the USL went a perfect 7-0 against the NASL in the third round and advanced a total of 12 teams to the fourth round.
OKC Energy FC 2-1 (AET) Rayo OKC
Soccer fans in Oklahoma City had been salivating over the very possibility of an OKC Derby in the Open Cup since the formation of the NASL side was announced earlier this year. A victory over a crosstown rival from a “higher” league made the Energy the biggest USL winners of the night. Kyle Hyland’s game-winning header in AET was a thing of beauty. The subsequent classless display from Rayo players and fans was not.
Wilmington Hammerheads FC 2-1 Miami FC
The Hammerheads jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with goals from Jeff Michaud and Justin Moose within the first five minutes. Miami battled back and had a chance to equalize from the mark in the 82nd minute, but Eric Ati saved the penalty kick and the victory.
San Antonio FC 2-1 Des Moines Menace
Des Moines was one of the PDL sides to whom pundits gave a chance to pull an upset over a professional club on Wednesday night. The Menace took the lead in the 59th minute, but late goals from San Antonio’s Sam McBride and Jacques Francois spoiled “cupset” hopes.
It’s no surprise that Sacramento failed put a big number on the scoreboard. The Republic have struggled in the attack all season. It is flabbergasting that Sacramento’s dominant defense allowed Kitsap to put up a big number of their own.
Charlotte Independence 0-5 (AET) Carolina RailHawks FC
The Independence advanced further than any other USL team in the 2015 version of the Open Cup, which is why Charlotte is included in the biggest losers category. There is also the scoreline, which is a tad misleading. A 10-man Independence squad held the Railhawks to a scoreless draw through regular time, but the wheels fell off in added extra time.
Richmond Kickers 1-1 (0:2 PKs) Fort Lauderdale Strikers
The Kickers performed well for 120 minutes then couldn’t find the net in PKs.
Charleston Battery 1-2 Jacksonville Armada
This was the first Open Cup win for Jacksonville and the first loss to a second-division opponent for the Battery.
Lansdowne Bhoys FC 0-2 Rochester Rhinos
Rochester has won both of its 2016 Open Cup matches by a combined score of 9-0.
Harrisburg City Islanders 2-1 Chattanooga FC
Late goals from Wheeler and Foster kept the City Islanders in the tournament.
FC Cincinnati 0-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Cincinnati was shut out for the first time since the USL season opener.
Louisville City FC 1-2 Indy Eleven
Chandler Hoffman opened the scoring, but Louisville couldn’t hold onto the lead.
Minnesota United FC 2-0 Saint Louis FC
Some fan accounts would have you believe Saint Louis was battling both and NASL team and an officiating team.
Yallop got ejected, and Arizona lost again to Colorado Springs.