By JUSTIN FERGUSON
On Tuesday night, two Western Conference clubs made the trip to the East Coast and were promptly knocked out of the 2013 U.S. Open Cup by a pair of plucky USL Pro sides.
On Wednesday night, two teams from the NASL stepped up and doubled the underdogs’ head count, dispatching visiting Western Conference opponents of their own.
The biggest shock of the night and entire Third Round came in the Sunshine State as the Tampa Bay Rowdies hung on for a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. Although the Sounders were also missing several key starters, they traded blows with the host Rowdies throughout the match. Ten minutes after Tampa Bay went up on a Georgi Hristov tap-in, they were in trouble as defender Jordan Gafa handled the ball on the line and was sent off. But substitute striker Obafemi Martins’s penalty attempt was saved, and the Rowdies hung on for the upset—an upset over a team that previously made it to the Open Cup Final in all four of their campaigns.
While the U.S. national team struggled to generate offense in Cleveland, the Los Angeles Galaxy were experiencing similar troubles down south. The pain of last year’s trip to North Carolina came back to Los Angeles on Wednesday night as a mostly reserve Galaxy squad were beaten soundly by the Carolina RailHawks, 2-0. While the visitors were unable to create a shot on goal until the 71st minute, Carolina grabbed two quick goals early in the second half to coast to their second straight win over the defending MLS champions.
The Portland Timbers prevented an 0-for-3 night for the Western Conference in Wednesday’s final match. Portland showed no trace of last year’s 1-0 loss to amateur side Cal FC and rolled to an easy 5-1 win over USL Pro outfit Wilmington. Veteran striker Frédéric Piquionne scored the first four of Portland’s goals, with the first coming in the second minute of the match. The Hammerheads pulled one back shortly after the hour mark, but it was far too late. Futty Danso brought the lead back to four with 17 minutes left, setting up a Fourth Round meeting with Tampa Bay.
Here’s a closer look at all of Wednesday’s action from the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, which included another undefeated night for the Eastern Conference:
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) 2, Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS) 0 (REPORT)
Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) 0, Chicago Fire (MLS) 2 (REPORT)
New York Red Bulls (MLS) 2, Reading United AC (PDL) 0 (REPORT)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) 1, Seattle Sounders (MLS) 0 (REPORT)
Columbus Crew (MLS) 2, Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) 1 (REPORT)
Houston Dynamo (MLS) 2, FC Tucson (PDL) 0 (REPORT)
Portland Timbers (MLS) 5, Wilmington Hammerheads (USL Pro) 1 (REPORT)
What did you take away from these results? Shocked at Open Cup power Seattle’s loss to Tampa Bay? Thoughts on a shorthanded Galaxy squad’s performance against Carolina? Impressed with the Eastern Conference going a perfect 8-0 in the Third Round?
Share your thoughts below.