MLS teams always face a tricky task when they enter the Open Cup. It is a competition where oddities thrive and shocks occur with some regularity.
Poor weather seems to follow the Revolution everywhere in the Open Cup, but the rampant chaos of last year – a 30-minute weather delay at the start of the game, a first-half red card and a squandered three-goal outburst in extra time all led to Harrisburg's stunning victory on penalty kicks – yielded to a minor setback this year.
The visitors waited out a 52-minute weather delay due to lightning in the area before polishing off the Rhinos. Two goals before the break (including a critical tally from Andy Dorman mere seconds before the players were ordered from the field) and three more after play resumed removed all of the doubt, though the oddity of yet another break still remained.
Most of the drama occurred elsewhere on Tuesday night. Colorado and San Jose fell to defeat after making cross-country trips to face dangerous opponents. Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy converted a penalty kick to provide the margin of victory in the Red-and-White's 2-1 victory over L.A. Blues. D.C. United needed penalties to overcome Richmond. Philadelphia overcame plucky Ocean City with a late dagger of a goal moments after a stunning equalizer. Real Salt Lake even required an extra period to dispatch Atlanta at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Every single match – even the fairly routine victories by FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City – provided a glimpse into the magic of the Open Cup. The knockout competition hits 100 this year without proper recognition.
At times, it shows its age, strains its competitors (the travel demands for clubs on short notice impact the bottom line), struggles to attract attention (outside the soccer community, of course) and suffers under the weight of indignities (Los Angeles coach Bruce Arena did not travel with his team on its trip to Raleigh to face the Carolina Railhawks on Wednesday). And yet it always finds a way to enthrall.
In preparation for the remaining fixtures on Wednesday, the Musings offers a glance at the action from the matches on Tuesday night.
Orlando City 3–1 Colorado: On-loan striker Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City) collected two goals and prompted Steward Ceus' second-half red card as the USL Pro side advanced at the Citrus Bowl.
Charleston 1–0 San Jose: Colin Falvey pounced after 73 minutes to send the Battery through to a fourth-round tie at Real Salt Lake after a narrow victory against the 10-man Earthquakes.
Philadelphia 2–1 Ocean City: Brian Carroll broke the hearts of the the plucky Nor'easters when he headed just over the line (admittedly a point of dispute) in second-half stoppage time to send the Union through at the expense of the PDL outfit.
Real Salt Lake 3–2 Atlanta (AET): On-loan forward Kellen Gulley (Chicago) sent this match into extra time with equalizer in the 86th minute. Devon Sandoval and Khari Stephenson decided the match with two goals in the first period of extra time, though Pablo Cruz threw a scare into RSL with his late goal.
L.A. Blues 1–2 Chivas USA: George Davis IV opened the scoring for the home side after 11 minutes, but Carlos Alvarez equalized early in the second half to set the stage for Kennedy's match-winning penalty shortly after the hour mark.
Richmond 0–0 D.C. United (United wins 4-2 on penalty kicks): Joe Willis saved penalty kick efforts by Sacha Gorres and Joseph Ngwenya to give United a much-needed victory.
Ft. Lauderdale 0–2 FC Dallas: Blas Perez and Matt Hedges sent FCD through to the fourth-round with a triumph at Lockhart Stadium. The news wasn't all good for the Western Conference leaders, though: Walker Zimmerman departed the match through injury.
Sporting Kansas City 2–0 Des Moines: Kei Kamara opened the scoring inside the opening quarter of an hour and Claudio Bieler added an insurance goal after 73 minutes to send the home side through at Sporting Park.