Notable upsets in the Quarterfinals of the US Open Cup

Posted by | September 1, 2009

Shane Watkins of the San Francisco Bay Seals eludes San Jose Clash defender John Doyle during the Seals’ 2-1 Quarterfinal upset at Spartan Stadium on August 20, 1997. Photo: San Francisco Bay Seals

MORE: Things you should know about the Quarterfinals (Modern Era)

There have only been nine upsets in the Quarterfinal round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup since 1995, therefore all of them are, in fact, “notable.”

There have been one amateur team (albeit before MLS was launched) and two third division clubs to win a Quarterfinal games in the Modern Era (1995-present), and the rest are second division pro teams (A-League, USL First Division) knocking off Major League Soccer clubs.

Atlanta Ruckus (A-League) 1:2 Richmond Kickers (USISL Premier)
July 12, 1995
University of Richmond Stadium – Richmond, Virginia

The Richmond Kickers, the lone amateur team remaining in the tournament upset the A-League’s Atlanta Ruckus 2-1 to reach the semifinals. The Kickers took a 1-0 lead into halftime on a 13th minute goal by Rob Ukrop, but US international John Doyle answered for the Ruckus in the 52nd minute. The game-winning goal would be scored by Richmond’s Scott Snyder in the 62nd minute with Ben Crawley picking up his second assist of the game. Side note: While the Kickers were an amateur team, they featured a strong roster for future professional players including Richie Williams, Mike Clark, Brian Bates, Todd Yeagley, Brian Kamler and goalkeeper Jeff Causey.

Tampa Bay Mutiny (MLS) 3 : 4 (ASDET) Rochester Raging Rhinos (A-League)
September 7, 1996
Frontier Field – Rochester, NY

In front of more than 12,000 fans at Frontier Field, the Rochester Raging Rhinos knocked off Major League Soccer’s best team, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, in sudden death overtime. It’s known as one of the most exciting Open Cup games in the Modern Era. Henry Gutierrez and Doug Miller put the Rhinos up 2-0 at the half, but it was Roy Lassiter who began one of the most thrilling 10 minutes in modern Open Cup history. Lassiter’s goal in the 80th minute brought the Mutiny to within one goal, but two minutes later, Miller would score his second to make it 3-1.

The home crowd thought the game was over, but Tampa Bay would score two goals in two minutes (Carlos Valderamma PK in the 85th and Evans Wise in the 86th on an assist from Lassiter) to send the game into overtime. 23 minutes of sudden death overtime saw the Rochester crowd whipped into a frenzy when substitute, and Rochester native, Chris Kennell scored the game-winner in the 113th minute. The first-year franchise would advance to the Open Cup Final that year, falling to DC United in the championship game.

San Francisco Bay Seals (D3 Pro League) 2 : 1 San Jose Clash (MLS)
August 20, 1997
Spartan Stadium – San Jose, CA

Ronald Cerritos converted an early first half penalty kick to put the San Jose Clash up 1-0, but the Bay Seals, the darlings of the 1997 tournament, got a pair of late goals from Shani Simpson (77th minute) and Shane Watkins (86th minute) to put them in the Semifinals. San Francisco was the first third division club to reach the Semifinals during the Modern Era. It was an achievement that wasn’t matched until 2011.

Dallas Burn (MLS) 1 : 2 (ASDET) Rochester Raging Rhinos (A-League)
August 11, 1999
Frontier Field – Rochester, NY

After a 71st minute goal by Mauro Biello put Rochester in front 1-0, the Rhinos were five minutes away from pulling off the upset in regulation when Jason Kreis tied the game up thanks to an assist by Paul Broome. After 20 minutes of extra time, Michael Kirmse scored the golden goal (assisted by Darren Tilley) to send the Rhinos to the Semifinals, on their way to winning the tournament.

Minnesota Thunder (USL-1) 3 : 1 Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
August 24, 2005
Julian Field – Parkville, Missouri

In the midst of a disappointing run of league form, the Minnesota Thunder continued their run in the US Open Cup with a road win over the Kansas City Wizards. It was the third MLS team Minnesota had eliminated in a row (Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids). Johnny Menyongar scored two goals and was a part of the third when his shot was re-directed by the Wizards’ Shavar Thomas and past goalkeeper Will Hesmer.

Colorado Rapids (MLS) 0 : 5 Seattle Sounders (USL-1)
August 7, 2007
Qwest Field – Seattle, Washington

Chris Eylander stops a penalty kick against the Kansas City Wizards during the 2008 US Open Cup. Photo: George Holland

Seattle completely dominated the Colorado Rapids in the worst loss ever suffered by a MLS team in the Open Cup. After two goals by Sounder defenders midway through the first half, Colorado’s Ugo Ihemelu put the ball into his own net to make it 3-0 Seattle at the half. The game was all but over, but when Colorado defender Facundo Erpen was sent off in the 49th minute, the Sounders poured it on in the second half to return to the Semifinals for the first time since 1995.

Charleston Battery (USL-1) 3 : 1 FC Dallas (MLS)
July 8, 2008
Pizza Hut Park – Frisco, Texas

After a weather delay, the Charleston Battery eliminated FC Dallas 3-1 in front of the Dallas faithful. Former Dallas player Lazo Alavanja opened the scoring, followed by Ian Fuller and Randi Patterson. Kenny Cooper added a score in second half stoppage time but it was too little, too late. The Battery got their revenge after being knocked out of the tournament by Dallas the last two years in a row.

Kansas City Wizards (MLS) 0:0 (5:6 PKs) Seattle Sounders (USL-1)
July 8, 2008
Qwest Field – Seattle, Washington

David Bulow of the Richmond Kickers tied the Modern Era record for most US Open Cup goals in a career with 13. Photo: Richmond Kickers / Suz Kitsteiner

After playing 120 minutes of scoreless soccer, Kansas City’s Eric Kronberg and Seattle Chris Eylander found themselves facing a penalty kick shootout. Both goalkeepers had played well in regulation and extra time, but Eylander had been busier, stopping 12 shots to Kronberg’s four. Eylander would get the best of Kronberg in the shootout, 6-5, saving attempts by Jimmy Conrad and Tyson Wahl to send the Sounders to the final four.

Richmond Kickers (USL Pro) 2:0 Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
July 12, 2011
LiveStrong Sporting Park – Kansas City, Kansas

The Richmond Kickers continued their Cinderella run through the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-0 upset of Sporting Kansas City at LiveStrong Sporting Park. After a lengthy lightning delay sent the players into the locker rooms in the 66th minute, once they emerged,  Shaka Bangura scored less than 30 seconds after play re-started to give the Kickers the lead. David Bulow would add a history-making penalty kick in the 83rd minute to seal the deal. Bulow’s goal gave him a tournament-high six tallies and put him on top of the Modern Era’s goalscoring chart with 13 in his career. He was tied with Jaime Moreno and Johnny Menyongar. With the win, Richmond became only the second Third Division team to reach the Semifinals. The only other team to do it was the San Francisco Bay Seals in 1997.

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