On the densest day of matches for the most important soccer tournament in the world, you'd be forgiven for overlooking the action in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. But for those willing to try to watch four games at once (or five, if you were also interested in the US Women's friendly against France), those games provided plenty of drama and intrigue. And, in the end, they all provided a humbling of MLS teams that either wouldn't or couldn't put their best team on the field to overcome the lower division team's home field advantage.
Atlanta Silverbacks 2 - Real Salt Lake 1
In the first match, the Atlanta Silverbacks — who finished 8th of 10 teams in NASL's spring season — hosted a Real Salt Lake that's suddenly gone from the only undefeated team in MLS to a team that's winless in its last four matches, thanks in large part to the absence of their national team players. That didn't seem to matter early in the match, as a terrible flub of a clearance outside the box by Atlanta keeper Derby Carrillo allowed RSL's Robbie Findley to dribble around him and score easily into an open net.
But after that the Silverbacks settled down and had the better of the match, which first paid off in the 33rd minute, when a long Junior Burgos shot beat Jeff Attinella to tie the match. And in the second half they took over completely, dominating RSL and unlucky not to score until the dying embers of regulation time, when Kwadwo Poku finished off the match with a goal from the top of the 18.
The loss continues RSL's slide and kicks them out of a tournament for which they hosted the final four last season. In the next round Atlanta will travel to the winner of the Colorado Rapids/Orlando City match this week. But even if it's MLS' Colorado, Silverbacks' TD Eric Wynalda has a message for the league:
Hey @mls, I got you again— Eric Wynalda (@EricWynalda11) June 15, 2014
Carolina RailHawks 1 (3) - Chivas USA 1 (2)
Calling lame-duck Chivas a 'top division team' is technically correct, but you'd pick them as the most likely MLS team to be upset in the tournament, especially on the road. Even so, it took one of the derpiest penalty kick shootouts you'll ever see to actually make it happen.
Chivas chose to leave out Mauro Rosales and Carlos Bocanegra and their key offensive player Erick Torres started on the bench, but Sounder loanee Eriq Zavaleta started at center-back. The teams traded first half goals and then settled into a full second half and two extra times of even soccer before lining up for penalties.
The shootout saw MLS veteran Dan Kennedy facing off against Carolina's 23-year-old backup keeper Scott Goodwin, but it was much decided by an inability to put shots on frame as it was by saves. Chivas took an early advantage when Carolina's first shot went off the post and the Goats went up 2-1. But with a chance to go up 2, Zavaleta launched a shot into orbit. Then Kennedy saved Carolina's next before stepping up himself and having his own shot saved (raising the question of why you'd send out a center back and a goalkeeper to be 2 of your first 5 takers). Carolina scored to finish off the fourth round at 2-2.
In the fifth round, Goodwin made the save on Chivas and Carolina had a chance to win, but ex-RSL player Enzo Martinez shot his attempt wide and it went to extra kicks. Then Chivas missed to set up another winning chance, but Carolina was saved. Then Goodwin saved another kick, setting up another chance to win. And finally, mercifully it was scored by Daniel Jackson to advance Carolina into the next round, when they will host the winner of the LA Galaxy vs Arizona United match.
New York Cosmos 3 - New York Red Bulls 0
The New York Derby was the match most anticipated by neutrals in this round, but only one team was able to get up for it. For the Cosmos, it was their first competitive match against a top division team in their new incarnation, and first since 1984 in any incarnation. But apparently nobody told Mike Petke and his Red Bulls that this was a big match, because they got run over. The Cosmos outshot their metro rivals 21-3 en route to their comfortable 3-0 victory.
Jimmy Ockford was the second center back on loan from the Sounders to start in this round, and he accorded himself well. He wasn't tested much in defense, but he was a consistent threat on the Cosmos' numerous attacking set pieces, often winning the first header.
With the win, the Cosmos will either travel to the Philadelphia Union or host the Harrisburg City Islanders in the next round.