Charlotte Independence’s Jorge Herrera has been named the TheCup.us Player of the Round for Round 4 of the 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, after his long-range curling effort put his USL team over MLS side New England Revolution. Herrera’s seventh career Open Cup goal not only helped the expansion team upset a MLS team, but it won his club $15,000 as the USL team that advanced the furthest in this year’s tournament.
The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters.
The Revolution used a heavily-rotated squad against the USL team and for the first half-hour or so, looked up to the task. However, momentum shifted in the 32nd minute when a Herrera free kick met the head of forward Tomasz Zahorski and went just over the bar. Confidence began to fill Charlotte, and they continued that confident look into the second half. After great pressure from center back Mechack Jerome, Alex Martinez was released on the left hand side and lifted the ball to Herrera on the edge of the box. Herrera showed great skill to chest the ball and allow the ball to bounce before volleying a curling shot into the back corner. The one goal was enough to lift Independence past New England and continue on in the 102nd edition of the tournament.
With the win, the Independence join the New York Cosmos as the only two lower division teams remaining in the Fifth Round. They move on to face the four-time US Open Cup champion Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
“I think that the guys put together a really nice 90 minutes”, Herrera said after the win. “We scored, we were able to hold the win and then end we get what we were trying tonight.”
“It was a hell of a goal,” Independence head coach Mike Jeffries said of Herrera’s strike. “Jorge is such a talented player and a really good leader with our group. It’s nice to have a guy with his experience, and his class, on the team.”
Entering the competition, Herrera had six career Open Cup goals, all of them with the Charlotte Eagles, who after 22 years as a pro club in the USL, self-relegated to the Premier Development League (Division 4). The Independence stepped in to take over the Eagles’ franchise rights for the city of Charlotte. Herrera scored a pair of goals in 2008 for the Eagles, and then two more each in 2013 and 2014. With his goal against the Revolution, that gives him a goal in three straight tournaments. With seven career goals, it puts him in select company. Other members of the seven-goal club include Taylor Twellman, Jason Kreis, and Herculez Gomez, among others.
All seven of his goals have been scored while part of a Division 3 team, which puts him second among all Division 3 players in the Modern Era (1995-present) behind David Bulow’s nine. Herrera is also the fourth Colombian to win the award, joining Danny Barrera (Cal FC, 2012), Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders, 2009 and 2011) and Jose Correa (Chivas USA, 2012).
Herrera beat out Jimmy Maurer, keeper of the Cosmos, by a single vote to win this honor. Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes finished a close third, followed close behind by Philadelphia Union goalkeeper John McCarty.
FULL MATCH REPLAY: CHARLOTTE AT NEW ENGLAND