2015 U.S. Open Cup

A televised coin flip will decide which team hosts the 2015 U.S. Open Cup final

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On Wednesday, one of the most eagerly anticipated coin flips in U.S. Soccer history will take place.

No joke.

With the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup down to the semifinal stage, the venue for the final on Sept 29 or 30 has yet to be decided and U.S. Soccer will have a coin flip to decide which club hosts the final of the oldest knockout competition in U.S. soccer history. Is that famous scene in Friday Night Lights from Permian’s 1988 season flashing into anybody else’s mind here? Just me? Anyway…

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The four teams still left in the competition are all from Major League Soccer, with the Chicago Fire taking on the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on Aug. 12 and a re-match of the 2013 final between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake will take place at Sporting Park, Kansas on the same day.

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You can watch the event live on U.S. Soccer’s YouTube channel on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET, and although this is going ahead and many people believe it is the fairest way to determine the hosts for the final, here are some other options for the future:

  • Have the U.S. Open Cup final at a neutral venue: the same stadium every year in the nation’s capital Washington D.C.?
  • Again, a neutral venue but pick out a stadium which is smack bang in the middle of the two teams in the final. Should there really be home advantage for a domestic title? Plus, there is over a month between the semifinals and final so that seems like plenty of time to plan logistics in advance.
  • The team with the best record (goal differential, then goals scored) get to host the final

Again, those are just suggestions, and I understand why clubs involved in the final have been given the option to host the event as in the past Open Cup finals were often poorly attended and took place hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from the home cities of teams who were participating.

Any thoughts out there as to how U.S. Soccer can shake things up?

WATCH LIVE: Open Cup quarterfinals – New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia takes center stage

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The quarterfinals of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup continue this week as two last-eight games takes place on Tuesday and another on Wednesday.

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Real Salt Lake has already made it to the semifinals after beating the LA Galaxy 1-0 in Steven Gerrard’s competitive debut last week. RSL will visit the winner of Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo which takes place on Tuesday at a packed-out Sporting Park.

Earlier on Tuesday — like, really early as the game kicks off at 4 p.m. ET — the New York Red Bulls host I-95 rivals Philadelphia Union with almost 1,000 travelling fans expected at Red Bull Arena to cheer on the Union. Last years finalists will be hoping to make the final four, but Jesse March’s Red Bulls are red-hot with Bradley Wright-Phillips returning to form in recent weeks. It will be an intriguing clash as third hosts seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.

On Wednesday the Chicago Fire takes on Orlando City, as Adrian Heath’s side aim to reach the semifinals of the Open Cup during their first season as an MLS club. Chicago have won the Open Cup four times in club history and have reached the quarterfinals a record 12 times. If Mike Magee can fire Chicago past Orlando — they lost 3-2 to the Floridian outfit in a cracker earlier this season at Toyota Park — they will travel to face the winner of New York vs. Philadelphia in the semifinals.

Good news: you can watch all three Open Cup quarters live online by clicking on the links below.

Tuesday

New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union – 4 p.m. ET – Watch live on U.S. Soccer YouTube
Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo – 8:30 p.m. ET – Watch live on U.S. Soccer YouTube

Wednesday

Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC – 8:30 p.m. ET – Watch live on U.S. Soccer YouTube

WATCH LIVE: Quarterfinal spots up for grabs in US Open Cup fifth round

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The field for the last 16 of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is set, as the fifth round kicks off on Tuesday.

With 14 teams from Major League Soccer still in the competition, plus the Charlotte Independence flying the USL flag and the New York Cosmos representing the NASL, the top-tier of U.S. soccer will probably be feeling a little smug about itself.

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That said, after four-straight defeats in MLS action, the Chicago Fire will not be relishing coming up against the unknown quantity that is Charlotte. The third-tier team are in their first season as a club and caused a huge shock ye knocking out the New England Revolution in the fourth round.

With four games coming your way on Tuesday, here are the links to watch and listen to the games which will be taking place across the U.S. as the tournament is still in a regional format with East, South, Central and West.

Tuesday
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew – 7:30 p.m. ET – LISTEN LIVE via Real Radio 104.1
Philadelphia Union vs. DC United – 7 p.m. ET – WATCH LIVE via U.S. Soccer YouTube
Chicago Fire vs. Charlotte Independence – 8:30 p.m. ET – WATCH LIVE via U.S. Soccer YouTube
Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids – 9 p.m. ET – WATCH LIVE via U.S. Soccer YouTube

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fifth round preview: Cosmos look to do MLS’ N.Y. double, Charlotte hits Chicago

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The New York Cosmos and Charlotte Independence are the lone non-MLS teams waving the flag for the underdogs as the fifth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup whittles 16 teams down to eight on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Cosmos knocked off regional rivals New York City FC in penalty kicks during the fourth round, while Charlotte surprised the New England Revolution with a 1-0 win on a goal by Colombian forward Jorge Herrera.

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Both clubs will have to take to the road, and the Cosmos have a whale of a task ahead of them in hoping to oust the New York Red Bulls fo a second-straight year. Can you imagine the buzz if the NASL side is able to knock both the Red Bulls and New York City out of the tournament? Raul and the Cosmos will hope to do just that at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.

If Charlotte is to take down a second successive MLS side, they’ve got a reeling one on the docket. Chicago has had trouble winning matches this season, but may be looking to the Open Cup as a chance to kickstart its form against lesser competition.

We’ll also see another derby, with San Jose and L.A. squaring off mere days after the fresh Quakes took down a tired-looking Galaxy 3-1.

Here’s what’s on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday as the tournament stays regional:

Tuesday
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew
Philadelphia Union vs. DC United
Chicago Fire vs. Charlotte Independence
Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids

Wednesday
New York Red Bulls vs. New York Cosmos
Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers
San Jose Earthquakes vs. L.A. Galaxy

Sounders owner Hanauer on chaotic US Open Cup ouster: “Maybe went a little overboard”

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Tuesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match between Seattle and Portland was a mess, one that ended with referees being escorted off the pitch by police and star attacker Clint Dempsey facing a lengthy ban for his encounter with referee Daniel Radford.

Radford was in the process of dealing out a second red card to Seattle when Dempsey slapped the book out of his hands, then tearing up the pages of the book and receiving the Sounders’ third red card. He could be suspended for three months if US Soccer considers it ref assault.

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It was petulant, and Sounders fans followed his lead, tossing plastic bottles at their Cascadian Cup rivals. Even classy manager Sigi Schmid has criticized himself for skipping out on a postmatch handshake.

How would Seattle’s ownership respond? Well, there are a lot of conditional statements and no apologies in a statement from Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer.

From The Seattle Times:

“We’re an extremely proud organization. Right below our logo, there are three words that say passion, courage and community. We believe that we embody those three words and that everything we do is a positive reflection on them.

“Tuesday evening, the passion piece maybe went a little bit overboard and was maybe directed in the wrong ways. That goes for players, coaches, staff, fans.”

“I think that the passion may have been misappropriated – from players, coaches, fans and staff.

“Now, we need to regroup. We’ve had lots of internal conversations. We will do whatever we need to collect information on fan misconduct and dole out appropriate punishments if those are necessary. We’ll deal with all of the rest internally.

“But I thought it was important to acknowledge that it wasn’t our proudest moment as the Sounders organization and we’re going to do better. We know that people are looking to the Sounders as the bellwether franchise in North America and we always need to be at the top of our game.”

So, to sum up, from Hanauer’s perspective: Seattle is the biggest club in Major League Soccer and he is willing to entertain the thought that perhaps they did something wrong.

Hanauer did try to put it on his shoulders in a quote I took out for brevity, as it didn’t reflect the tone of the piece, which I believe to be: The Sounders are still really ticked off with the way Tuesday’s match unfolded, and are looking forward to a bit of revenge come June 28 (even if it may be without Dempsey and certainly will lack Obafemi Martins).

If it makes Sounders fans feel better, Radford’s reputation is getting the twice-over from the Pacific Northwest. Welcome to the microscope, sir.