“Cupsets” prevail as MLS teams enter U.S. Open Cup

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I love this competition folks, just love it.

On Tuesday night the U.S. Open Cup provided plenty of shocks as four Amateur teams remain in the knockout competition, with the big boys from Major League Soccer now involved.

The third round draw is set, check it out here, with some real Cinderella stories in the making.

Four PDL sides produced “Cupsets” to make it to the third-round and will now face MLS opposition. Reading United defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders 1-0 and will now face the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.

The Ocean City Nor’easters pulled off perhaps the upset of the round, defeating the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1-0, they now face Philadelphia at PPL Park.

While out in the Midwest, two teams also created huge upsets. The Des Moines Menace beat reigning NASL champions Minnesota United 1-0 and will now face reigning Open Cup champs Sporting KC at Sporting Park.

Rounding up the “Cupsets” FC Tucson rallied to defeat the heavily-favored San Antonio Scorpions on penalties. Tucson will now face the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.

(More: Can lower-tier teams still go far in the U.S. Open Cup?)

So, wow, these small sides have all been rewarded big time for their magnificent efforts in reaching the third-round of the Open Cup.

That is why I love it so much.

The incentive was clearly there for these smaller sides to win, with many of their players desperate for a chance to showcase their talent at Red Bull Arena, Sporting Park, BBVA Compass Stadium and PPL Park. This is the stuff of dreams.

When we hear British commentators waxing lyrical about non-league sides reaching the third-round of the FA Cup and facing Premier League teams, a huge sense of excitement and great admiration for that small club exists. We appreciate the fruits of their labor and the fact that they’ll get a big pay day to boost the clubs finances for years to come, which is a godsend to these amateur or semi-pro sides.

(More: Getting to know the U.S. Open Cup underdogs)

This is what happened last night in the Open Cup.

Sure, these four PDL sides will get financial gains, not much, but still a vast improvement on their previous income. But now their reputation will grow exponentially, with the top collegiate players already earmarking them as a potential destination to play summer-ball next season. The benefits of reaching the third-round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are endless for the amateur sides. That’s why the want it so much.

And that, once again, is why I love this competition so much.

Roll on next week, let’s see some big boys from MLS take a tumble.

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

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Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.