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USOC Round 3 Rewind: Lower-League Gut Check

Breaking down the US Open Cup’s biggest third round stories

Photo via US Soccer

This week was the moment of truth in the US Open Cup. The Third Round was the last to feature non-D1 teams, leaving the lower reaches of American Soccer to their own devices. Some teams fell by the wayside while others set themselves up for once-in-a-generation Cinderella runs. In two weeks MLS teams jump into the fray, and most of the teams that made it to this point will be sent packing. But that’s a problem for two weeks from now. Right now, the teams who came out on top in Round Three are on top of the world.

Michigan Bucks 1-2 Saint Louis FC

It’s a shame we don’t have video for this game, because Michigan’s Francis Atuahene scored a tremendous, Puskas-worthy goal late in their USOC tie with Saint Louis. But the world at large can’t see it— at least not yet. More disappointing for was that it wasn’t enough to send his side through. A lightning-quick pair of goals from Danish forward Sebastian Dalgaard were enough to send STL through to Round Four, where they’ll face none other than our own Men In Red.

Miami FC 2-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies

The Miami-Tampa rivalry is so new they haven’t even settled on a name for it yet. (Sunshine State Series doesn’t really have a good flow, y’know?) Nomenclature notwithstanding, the two NASL sides are doing the work of building a solid foundation of history and mutual enmity that makes a real rivalry work. Second-half goals from Vincenzo Rennella and Jaime Chávez gave Miami a 2-0 win over the Rowdies and a date with Orlando City in the Fourth Round.

Chicago FC United 0-1 Christos FC

The competition’s Cinderella team this season took another big step forward at the expense of Chicago’s last surviving lower league side. The Baltimore-based club scored in the opening minute of the match and held on for dear life, fending off Chicago FC United through more than 90 minutes to secure the win and their status as the last amateur team in the tournament. They’ll face DC United in Round Four.

LA Wolves 0-1 Orange County SC

Eric Wynalda’s dream has gone up in flames. Despite a valiant effort, his LA Wolves fell to Orange County SC, ending their nine-game (all comps) winning streak and crashing out of the Open Cup. A free kick goal from OCSC’s Roy Meeus was all the visitors needed. They’re booked to square off against the LA Galaxy in the next round.

North Carolina FC 4-1 Charlotte Independence

A supermajority of Third Round ties were decided by one goal. This showdown in North Carolina was a notable exception. The rebranded Railhawks manhandled their in-state rivals with goals from James Marcelin, Connor Tobin, and a brace from Nazmi Albadawi. Charlotte’s Alex Martinez converted a penalty in stoppage time to deny NCFC a clean sheet, but the consolation goal provided little actual consolation. North Carolina are counting the days until their Fourth Round clash with the Houston Dynamo.