US Open Cup fourth round wrapup – five more MLS teams tumble out

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The fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is now complete, and there are still some Cinderella stories left as it moves to the quarterfinals.

The most recent round wasn’t fully complete until this afternoon when the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew played after kickoff Wednesday was postponed 16-1/2 hours due to inclement weather.

Now, the quarterfinals are set without last year’s defending champions, and with two lower division teams still in the mix, it’s sure to give us an intriguing finish.

Sporting KC 0-1 Orlando FC

With their second straight MLS upset, the Lions have officially burst onto the scene in the U.S. Open Cup. They shocked their MLS affiliate and defending Cup champions Sporting KC with a quick-fire 2nd minute goal by Chinese striker Long Tan.

The goal, conceded after a turnover in their own half by Kansas City, was dubbed by KC manager Peter Vermes as “a terrible mistake.”

After going 1 up, Orlando dropped back and played solely on the counter-attack.  Despite just two shots in the first half, Orlando was actually unlucky not to be up 2-0 at halftime.  Tan had a close-range effort agonizingly saved by Eric Kronberg.

Orlando, currently sitting in first place in the USL Pro, will look to be just the second non-MLS team to win the Cup since MLS teams entered in 1996.  They were also the only away side to win in this round of play.

D.C. United 3-1 Philadelphia Union

Dwayne de Rosario decided he’d seen enough of the MLS standings.  Despite sitting in last place, a hat-trick from de Rosario sent the Black-and-Red on to the quarterfinals.

A goal from red-hot youngster Jack McInerney wasn’t nearly enough for Philadelphia as they get a taste of their own medicine.  The Union defeated D.C. United in the same round and venue during the competition last season.  Unfortunately for United, they did lose Chris Pontius in the process, after he took two blows to the head in the span of a few minutes and was subbed off at halftime.

You can watch de Rosario’s hat trick, plus a horribly awkward postgame interview, here.

Chicago Fire 2-1 Columbus Crew

It was a horror night for Columbus, as not only were they knocked out of the Cup despite leading 1-0 early, but they also may have lost Brazilian central defender Glauber for an extended period of time.

The 29-year-old, who was only recently acquired in January, left in just the 9th minute with a knee injury.  The extent of the injury is not known, but with Eddie Gaven already having blown out his ACL in the previous Cup match, it’s fingers crossed for Crew fans.

The one positive for Columbus is Konrad Warzycha’s header goal in the 22nd minute marks the first time father and son have scored in the U.S. Open Cup, following in the footsteps of Crew head coach Robert Warzycha.  Unfortunately, the red-hot Mike Magee responded just six minutes later to equalize, and then Patrick Nyarko provided the winner for Chicago in the 78th minute.

Real Salt Lake 5-2 Charleston Battery

You wouldn’t know it by the scoreline, but this match actually went to extra time.  Having already defeated San Jose in the previous round, Charleston found themselves 2-0 up on Real Salt Lake just 18 minutes in and could taste another upset.  Unfortunately, the #2 team in the West realized what was happening and turned on the afterburners.

Devon Sandoval opened the scoring for the MLS side in the 66th minute, and Joao Plata converted a penalty 12 minutes later to equalize. Extra time saw Sandoval’s second 7 minutes in for the winner, and Salt Lake added two more for insurance against the exhausted Battery.

Carolina Railhawks 3-1 Chivas USA

Things are going from bad to worse for Chivas USA, as extra time proved deadly to the MLS side and gave Carolina their second straight upset win, having already slid past L.A. Galaxy in the competition.

Cesar Elizondo and Brian Ackley both netted in the extra period to give the NASL club the quarterfinals berth.  It was hot in North Carolina, but the sides were hot-headed as well, as seven yellow cards were handed out in the match.

In an odd bit of news, new Chivas manager Jose Luis Real was in attendance for the match, but did not coach.  Instead, Sascha van der Most continued his interim coaching duties.

New England Revolution 4-2 New York Red Bulls

The Revs continued their season revival by thrashing the Red Bulls in their first home match in the Cup in four years.  New England went ahead after just four minutes as Kelyn Rowe scored the first of his brace, and they kept scoring all the way until their fourth in the 87th minute.

New England are on a vicious run, unbeaten in their last seven matches in all competitions, and they’ve outscored their opponents 19-4 during that span.

Dallas FC 3-0 Houston Dynamo

The “Texas Derby” found its way into the U.S. Open Cup, and MLS leaders in points didn’t disappoint.  Kenny Cooper’s brace gives him five goals on the year for Dallas in all competitions, and they both came off set pieces taken by Brazilian midfielder Michel.

That sounds really familiar….oh right, that’s exactly what happened when the two clubs met in the league back in March.  Dallas have an MLS match on Saturday, but played a pretty full-strength lineup anyways, only missing international call-ups Raul Fernandez and Blas Perez, plus David Ferreira sat.

Portland Timbers 2-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Portland proved the only MLS team to easily put away their lower division opponents in the fourth round.  Tampa Bay had already defeated Seattle in the previous round, but Portland went ahead early in the ninth minute via Michael Nanchoff and never looked back.

It’s Portland’s first ever visit to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.

Quarterfinal matchups:

New England Revolution at D.C. United
Orlando City at Chicago Fire
Carolina Railhawks at Real Salt Lake
Portland Timbers at FC Dallas

USL granted 2018 2nd-division sanctioning by U.S. Soccer

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U.S. Soccer has officially granted the United Soccer League second-division sanctioning, behind first-division Major League Soccer, for the upcoming 2018 season, as well as first-division status for the National Women’s Soccer League.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan unveiled by Liga MX side Club Leon ]

USL, which will feature 33 teams in 2018, had been granted temporary second-division sanctioning, alongside the North American Soccer League, in 2017. As NASL’s demise continued and accelerated — the league will not begin play this spring, opting instead for a late-summer kickoff, after a number of its teams either folded or jumped ship to USL — USL, with the help of MLS, quickly pounced to capitalize — from U.S. Soccer’s statement:

Sanctioning allows NWSL and USL to operate a Division I and II league, respectively, during the 2018 season and includes a two-year pathway to full compliance with the Professional League Standards. USL has demonstrated substantial progress toward reaching full compliance since being granted provisional Division II sanctioning in 2017.

Conspiracy theorist’s take: USL supplanted NASL as the U.S.’s second-most viable professional men’s league — and more importantly, being granted official second-division status — paves the way for MLS to, at some point well down the line — say, 2030 or so — implement its own multi-tiered system of promotion and relegation, featuring anywhere between 60 and 80 teams, while still remaining a single-entity structure closed to the lower reaches of the sport in America, as the lines separating MLS and USL have only become more and more blurred in recent years.

[ MORE: Donovan ready to “win championships” after ending retirement ]

MLS realizes that public demand for promotion and relegation in the U.S. has grown significantly louder in recent years — particularly given the climate of the sport after the men’s national team failed to qualify for the World Cup, and subsequent ongoing presidential-election campaign — thus an open-but-not-really-open system which satisfies neither side will eventually be the end result.

Wenger called ref Dean “not honest,” “a disgrace” to earn ban

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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused a referee of being “not honest” and called him “a disgrace” in a rant inside the match officials’ changing room that led to a three-match touchline ban for one of English soccer’s most experienced coaches.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

The English Football Association published Tuesday the written reasons behind its decision to ban Wenger for being abusive toward referee Mike Dean after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Dec. 31.

In his match report given to the FA, Dean said Wenger “was pointing aggressively at me saying, ‘You’re not honest’ on numerous occasions.” Dean then said Wenger said “you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace.”

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

Wenger had been incensed at Calum Chambers being penalized for a handball and West Brom converting the resulting penalty to equalize late in the game.

The FA said “there is simply no justification for this behavior” and considered a stadium ban for Wenger.

Wenger was also fined $54,200 for his conduct.

FA Cup: Leicester, West Ham survive replays to reach 4th round

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Two more Premier League sides reached the fourth round of the 2017-18 FA Cup on Tuesday, winning their respective replays and joining 10 other top-flight clubs already through to the next round…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Leicester City 2-0 Fleetwood Town

Kelechi Iheanacho moved to Leicester from Manchester City for $33 million this summer and has, through his first half-season in the East Midlands, failed to live up to that price tag. In nine PL appearances, he is yet to score his first league goal. Tuesday, however, saw the 21-year-old Nigerian international put forth a bit production and performance more befitting a player of his promise and pedigree.

Manager Claude Puel picked a side consisting of first-team regulars and lesser-used squad players for the Foxes FA Cup third-round replay against League One side Fleetwood Town. It was Iheanacho, who started alongside/just behind target man Islam Slimani, who shown brightest with a pair of goals, in the 43rd and 77th minutes, to send Leicester into the fourth round. Iheanacho’s second, the one that put the game away for Leicester, was originally ruled out for offside, but was eventually after consultation of the video-assistant referee.

Leicester will travel to League One side Peterborough in the fourth round, on Sat. Jan. 27.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

West Ham United 1-0 (AET) Shrewsbury Town

It took far longer than Hammers fans would have liked — or expected — but West Ham, over the course of 120 minutes, survived the Cupset bid of third-division Shrewsbury Town. With eight minutes remaining before Tuesday’s replay went to penalty kicks at the London Stadium, 21-year-old defender Reece Burke fired home from inside the box to break the scoreless deadlock.

West Ham will be away to the winner of the replay between Bournemouth and Wigan Athletic (Wednesday), on Sat. Jan. 27.

Elsewhere in FA Cup replay action

Mansfield Town 1-4 Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Carlisle United
Reading 3-0 Stevenage

Wednesday’s FA Cup replay schedule

Chelsea vs. Norwich City — 2:45 p.m. ET
Swansea City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 2:45 p.m. ET
Wigan Athletic vs. Bournemouth — 2:45 p.m. ET

Report: Newcastle sale talks between Ashley, Staveley collapse

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Talks between Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley over the much-desired and -rumored sale of Newcastle United are off, according to a report from Sky Sports and various other UK news outlets.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Sky has quoted a source close to Ashley as having said: “Attempts to reach a deal (with Staveley) have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time.” (Full quote below)

Ashley, the club’s current and long-beleaguered owner, has been seeking a potential buyer since putting the club up for sale back in October. Staveley emerged as the front-runner (the only runner, perhaps) in the days following Ashley’s announcement, and reportedly tabled an offer of $335 million in early December before reportedly offering something closer to $400 million a couple weeks later.

Ashley selling the club — and doing so before the end of the January transfer window, which now appears nigh impossible — appeared to be one the few scenarios in which Rafa Benitez would remain the Magpies’ manager beyond the end of the current Premier League season (Newcastle currently sit 15th, just three points clear of relegation) after constant rumors of his discontent and lack of financial backing last summer.