Red Bulls upset, Cal FC seen out as U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals set


Major League Soccer saw another team upset by a lower-division side, though compared to the third round, Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup results were a relative reprieve. Only New York suffered a shocker, and although two other Major League Soccer sides also bowed out, the league avoided the type of stumbles that defined the previous round.

But Tuesday was still a day for some of U.S. soccer’s under-appreciated teams. The Harrisburg City Islanders sprung another upset of the Red Bulls, while fellow third-tier sides Dayton and Charlotte also find themselves in the final eight, both winning in extra time.

In all, four of the eight matches needed an 30 extra minutes to produce a winner, and while the round didn’t produce the same headlines as last week, the excitement returned.


Seattle Sounders 5-0 Cal FC

The dream is over, woken up with revelry at the break of night, just as Cal FC started to believe it could craft one more miracle.

For 45 minutes, the fifth-level upstarts stayed with Seattle, looking slightly better than they did while upsetting Portland. Then the second half came, a 50th minute penalty was called, and the flood gates opened.

Osvaldo Alonso opened the scoring with the first of his two second half goals. Fredy Montero scored twice, and Seattle ended Eric Wynalda’s cinderella story, continuing their quest for a fourth straight U.S. Open Cup.

Harrisburg 3-1 New York Red Bulls (aet)

Harrisburg went up early with a 13th goal through Brian Ombiji Conor Lade’s 54th minute equalizer started New York’s second half push, though it was goalkeeper Ryan Meara who saw the most pressure as regulation time ended. Still, when extra time started, there was every reason to believe New York, despite the early set back, would avoid a second loss in three years at Harrisburg City.

Four minutes into extra time, Sainey Touray squelched that belief, lobbing Meara to restore Harrisburg’s advantage. After a New York hand ball shout was controversially denied late in extra time, Lucky Mkosana added Harrisburg’s insurance goal, sending the Islanders through.

D.C. United 1-2 Philadelphia Union (aet)

Brian Carroll and Josh Wolff traded goals just before half time before the teams shut it down for the second. Two minutes into extra time, Antoine Hoppenot put home on a Freddy Adu set up to send Philadelphia into the quarterfinals, where they’ll host Harrisburg.

Sporting KC 2-0 Colorado

Matt Pickens was charged with an own goal after a first half header from Aurelien Collin ricocheted off the post, off the goalkeeper’s back, and in for the winning goal. A late insurance tally from Teal Bunbury sealed the victory on a night the hosts controlled.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Minnesota

There was an attritional aspect to this one, the last match of the night. The sides went scoreless into halftime, but San Jose was the better of the two teams in the second. Finally, four minutes from time, Steven Lenhart broke through, preventing the fifth extra time match of the night.

The win sets up a quarterfinal meeting with the holders: Seattle.

Carolina 1-2 Chivas USA

Juan Agudelo’s 32nd minute goal gave Chivas USA a lead they held for 46 minutes, with Micheal Palacio’s late second half equalizer convincing Railhawks’ supporters of the second-division side was lining up another scalp.

It wasn’t meant to be. A late hand ball on USMNT prospect Gale Agbossoumonde gave Juan Pablo Angel a chance to win this one from the spot. Sending the Railhawks’ goalkeeper the wrong way, Angel sent Chivas into the quarterfinals, restoring Chivas’s one goal advantage.

Michigan Bucks 1-2 Dayton Dutch Lions (aet)

Eli Garner’s 14th minute opener gave Dayton a lead to take into halftime. Nine minutes after intermission, Anthony Grant equalized, putting the teams on a course for extra time.

A penalty kick awarded in the 96th minute allowed Joel Delass to send the USL-Pro team into the final eight, eliminating the last surviving PDL side.

San Antonio 1-2 Charlotte (aet)

Charlotte took a 1-0 lead into half time after Devon Grousis put the Eagles up in the 26th minute. Fifteen minutes from time, Pablo Campos provided life support, sending yet another match into extra time.

There, another NASL side saw a hand ball undo their night. In the 116th minute, Mauricio Salles converted from the spot, making Charlotte the third USL-Pro side to qualifying for the final eight.

Quarterfinal matchups:

Sporting KC vs. Dayton

Chivas USA vs. Charlotte

Philadelphia vs. Harrisburg City

San Jose vs. Seattle Sounders

Wenger: I’ll decide my future in September

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Arsene Wenger, former manager of Arsenal for more than 20 years, is famous for many things. One is either his indicative nature, or ability to show prudence when making decisions, depending on how you see it.

Wenger has been without a job for the first time in more than two decades, and he’s been taking his time deciding on what his future will be. There no doubt have been plenty of offers for him, whether to be a club coach, national team coach or a media pundit on any number of television networks across the globe.

[READ: Salah named to UEFA POY shortlist]

“I decided not to decide,” Wenger said in an interview with Corse Matin while on vacation in Corsica  “I was intoxicated (with soccer) so long that I made a promise to make no decision until September.”

In a follow-up question about whether he would go into another field, such as politics, Wenger rejected that, so it appears he still sees his future in soccer. But in the meantime, he’s been busy playing sports and relaxing by the ocean.

“Yes, (it’s been) very good,” Wenger said of his time off, “even better than I thought. When you have been as busy as I have been, you always fear a little emptiness.

“But I quickly organized myself in this new stage of my life, I do a lot of sport, here I eat with my friends, copiously, I talk a lot too, I can stay for hours watching the horizon, I read all day, at the moment a book by Philip Roth, I Married a Communist.”

In the question and answer, Wenger also backed former Arsenal star Thierry Henry to take over at Bordeaux, as has been rumored, though he warned he wasn’t sure if Henry was truly ready to sacrifice everything to be a manager.

“Yes, he wants to do it, he is intelligent and he has the qualities,” Wenger said. “The existential question that we always ask ourselves is whether we are ready to sacrifice our life for the coaching profession.”

Salah, Ronaldo and Modric on UEFA Player of Year shortlist

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Mohamed Salah‘s magical season for Liverpool could help him usurp what had been a hegemony at the top of UEFA’s yearly awards.

[READ: Morata admits to struggles in Conte’s system]

Salah, along with former teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric were all nominated for UEFA’s Player of the Year award. Salah led Liverpool to an improbable run to the Champions League final, scoring 10 goals and dishing out five assists in 13 Champions League matches.

Ronaldo of course won his third-straight Champions League title last season and fifth overall while leading all goalscorers in the competition for the sixth-straight season. And Modric, starring for Real Madrid along with Ronaldo before the latter left for Juventus, won his third-straight title and led Croatia to the World Cup final in Russia.

Here’s the rest of the top 10. The Men’s Player of the Year, along with Women’s Player of the Year and Champions League Best XI will be announced on August 30. Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have combined to win the last four awards.

4. Antoine Griezmann (Atlético & France) – 72 points
5. Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) – 55 points
6. Kylian Mbappé (Paris & France) – 43 points
7. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City & Belgium) – 28 points
8. Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid & France) – 23 points
9. Eden Hazard (Chelsea & Belgium) – 15 points
10. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain) – 12 points

Morata admits difficult adapting to Conte’s system last season

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Alvaro Morata, coming off one of the worst 12 months of his career, is off to a fast start.

If you ask the Spanish striker, it’s thanks to the manager.

Speaking to Chelsea TV, Morata described how he struggled during the 2017-2018 season thanks to former manager Antonio Conte‘s more direct style of play, which forced Morata to play more with his back to goal and control long balls in the air.

[READ: Bale powers Real Madrid to win]

“I think for me the most important thing is the mode we play,” Morata said, praising the 4-3-3 formation the Blues play now under Maurizio Sarri. “Last year it was direct, I had to protect the ball in the air and that’s not my best quality. Now I can attack the spaces, play one-touch and go into the area for the crosses which is better for me.

“The last year was very hard for me, not just with confidence. The injury [last season] was very bad for me and my head, but when the ball goes into the net everything changes. Your mind isn’t blocked anymore and I hope now I can score a lot of goals.”

Morata provided a cool turn and finish for Chelsea in its 3-2 win over Arsenal on Saturday, a classic touch after a season in which Morata didn’t look like himself. It kept Morata home for the summer, having missed out on Spain’s World Cup campaign, which ended in defeat on penalties in the Round of 16 to Russia. Perhaps a Morata high on confidence could have helped them.

With Olivier Giroud more suited to play a game in the air or a hold-up game, it appears that Morata is in position to take advantage of the change of playing style, and we could see his best this season for Chelsea.

Tottenham to host first Champions League fixture at Wembley

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What seemed like a given was finally made official on Monday. Tottenham will host its first UEFA Champions League match at Wembley Stadium.

[READ: D.C. United wins fourth in a row]

The club announced that its first Champions League match, set to be held on either September 18/19 or October 2/3, will be held at England’s national stadium, as safety concerns have kept the new White Hart Lane from opening on time. The draw for the Champions League group stage will be held on August 30, following the conclusion of the Playoff Round, which is set to get underway this week.

Tottenham has already moved upcoming fixtures against Liverpool and Cardiff City to Wembley Stadium, but the venue for Tottenham’s highly-anticipated home match against Manchester City on October 28 has yet to be determined.

Due to the stadium delays, Tottenham can also apply to the FA to play their League Cup match in September on the road, regardless of the draw.