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11/23 FINAL
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11/30 9:20pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

Kick Off: Red Bulls the latest MLS giant to fall in USOC

Kick Off: Hans Backe

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

And then there were five.

While there wasn’t as much MLS carnage left by the side of the road in the round of 16 of the US Open Cup as there was a week ago, not everyone survived unscathed on Tuesday night.

The biggest loss? The New York Red Bulls, who fell 3-1 in extra time to the upstart Harrisburg City Islanders. This one had it all: controversy, late goals and another giant slain, this the second one in a week for the City Islanders, who topped the New England Revolution last week.

One of the catalysts of Harrisburg’s big win was actually a guy who could have starred for the Red Bulls – isn’t that how it always works out in this tournament? – in Sainey Touray, who ran himself ragged and scored two goals. His postgame quote said it all: “I’m tired … too much running.”

Next up for the City Islanders is a quarterfinal matchup against Big Brother – literally. The Islanders are the official USL affiliate club of the Philadelphia Union, who notched a dramatic win over I-95 foes D.C. United. Rookie Antoine Hoppenot got the winner in extra time.

Never heard of Hoppenot? That’s not a stunner. He’s down in the pecking order for the Union and came off the bench in this one, but left with the game-winner and a great quote: "I go to sleep thinking about scoring the game-winning goal for the Union, so to have it happen is incredible.”

Freddy Adu served up the game-winning assist on Hoppenot’s goal, punctuating an emotional night for the Union star. The match served as a bit of a homecoming for Adu, who first made his name in the US on the same field where he played Tuesday night.

The loss was a sobering one for United, who have been arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference this season but still bowed out to a team toiling near the bottom of the table. The conclusion? “We’re not as good as we think we are.”

That wasn’t all that came from this one, however. After a pair of red cards were issued during a late-game scuffle (one each for D.C.’s Brandon McDonald and Philly’s Carlos Valdés), United coach Ben Olsen had some choice comments: “It was a typical Open Cup game. The referees were lousy – they always are – for both teams. Every Open Cup game, it just turns into an absolute circus.” [WATCH HIGHLIGHTS]

Chivas USA didn’t make it easy on themselves to reach the quarterfinals either, but they got it done. The Goats traveled all the way to North Carolina and then snuck past the Carolina RailHawks, thanks to a stoppage-time penalty kick from Juan Pablo Ángel.

But while Carolina didn't get the win, at least one RailHawks player isn’t deterred. Said Carolina’s Mike Palacio, who scored the lone goal for his club on Tuesday: “We could beat any MLS team, in my opinion."

Chivas USA will take on the Charlotte Eagles in the quarterfinals, which means the stakes are higher than ever, and this blog argues it’s time to put starter Dan Kennedy back in net.

Another team headed to the quarterfinals is the three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders, who swarmed mighty-mites Cal FC on Tuesday night. The Sounders’ 5-0 win was telecast on Fox Soccer largely because of the celebrity underdog status of both Cal FC and their head coach Eric Wynalda, which was not a point lost on Sounders boss Sigi Schmid.

Check out the highlights of Seattle’s emphatic win (including Osvaldo Alonso’s stunning strike from distance) here.

Cal FC's darling status this past week means mission accomplished for Wynalda. Said the former MLS star: “We did exceed a lot of people's expectations.” Want more on Cal FC? Here’s one look at what the team accomplished during their run, and an examination of how Cal FC’s run compares to some others from around the world.

As for the Sounders, now the going gets a bit tougher. They’re headed south to San Jose for the quarterfinals. The Earthquakes got a late goal from Stephen Lenhart that to earn a win over the Minnesota Stars. San Jose won the coin toss to host the quarterfinal matchup, and it doesn’t appear that they’ll be selling the right to open their doors to the Sounders. Check out Quakes president David Kaval’s twitter feed after San Jose’s win over Minnesota.

Another team headed for the quarters is Sporting Kansas City, who bounced the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night thanks to some familiar faces: Aurélien Collin and Teal Bunbury. The Rapids have had absolute nightmares of late about Bunbury, who scored his fifth goal in the last four games overall against Colorado to cap the 2-0 win. Check out the highlights.

And here is the complete USOC bracket and the full results from Tuesday night.

Need more tourney talk? How about the CONCACAF Champions League? First, there are some changes this time around: eight groups, three teams per group, and only one team advances. Next, the five MLS teams involved in this summer’s group stage learned their fates during the CCL draw on Tuesday. Find the complete draw here.

There were some instant critics to the new format, including this reporter, who says that allowing just one team out of each group is “begging for randomness to happen.”

Real Salt Lake genneral manager Garth Lagerwey put it a different way after learning the road his club will have to take to get back to the tournament final: The margin of error just got a whole lot smaller.

The Houston Dynamo are one of the five teams headed into this summer’s proceedings, and it appears they could have a new player on the roster soon, hailing from Honduras.

That wasn’t the only name circulating around the rumor mill on Tuesday. There’s also news in Montreal, where it appears that talks with Michael Ballack may have stalled. But there’s some progress with Clarence Seedorf. However, the Impact could have some competition for Seedorf’s services.

The struggling LA Galaxy took another blow Tuesday when they learned striker Edson Buddle will be on the shelf for six weeks with a knee injury. The good news, however, is that center back Leonardo escaped that fall during a recent Reserve League match without any serious injury.

There’s a new masked man in Vancouver, and it’s Alain Rochat. The Whitecaps defender won’t miss any time after breaking his nose (the ‘Caps play Houston on Sunday), but he’s certainly got a new look. And Eric Hassli is also back in camp after he tied the knot over the weekend in Las Vegas, with some help from teammate Davide Chiumiento.

It’s three days and counting until the US national team opens World Cup qualifying against Antigua and Barbuda, and there are no higher expectations this time around than the ones on Clint Dempsey. Check out this profile of the US star, complete with the idea that the Texas-born Dempsey has always been in a race against time to make it this far.

As the game inches closer, here are two looks ahead at the game: one in-depth preview that has a great deal of info on the US’ foes, and one analysis piece that wonders how much mojo the Americans actually have heading into the match.

And in case you missed it, Tuesday marked the 10-year anniversary of one of the biggest moments in American soccer history. Check out this celebration piece, and this one, complete with highlights.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Who's on top of the CONACAF Power Rankings?

The Central Winger: What the US did wrong against Canada

Kick TV: Jimmy Conrad goes to Europe


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