MLS clubs are now fully in the swing of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a tournament that has served up its fair share of wild spectacles since the league first joined the fray in 1996.
You never know when a real donnybrook will break out, and most MLS teams have a crazy Cup story (or two) of their own to tell. We sorted them all out to come up with the best Open Cup barnburners of the modern era.
5) 2006 — FC Dallas 3 (5), Charleston 3 (3)
This one should probably just be known as "The Kenny Cooper Show" because he practically willed FC Dallas past their underdog Round of 16 hosts. The striker gave his side leads just before the end of each half, only for the Battery to strike back each time.
Ian Fuller's stoppage time penalty sent the game to extras, where teammate Luc Harrington put Charleston ahead for the first time in the game. Just as they were about to celebrate a cupset, Cooper completed his hat trick in the 120th minute to force penalties. And then he converted the fourth-round kick that put FC Dallas ahead to stay in the shootout. Because of course he did.
4) 2015 — Orlando City 4 (8), Charleston Battery 4 (7)
The Lions' first Open Cup match as an MLS team came in the Round of 32 against the always-tough Battery. The game remained scoreless until the second-flight guests opened the scoring near the hour mark. Lewis Neal leveled matters a few moments later, but his check was quickly raised by Dane Kelly, who restored the Charleston lead. With 14 minutes to play, Carlos Rivas bagged his first Orlando City goal from the spot to even things.
Rivas then converted another pair of penalties during the first extra-time session to seemingly put the expansion team in the driver’s seat. However, Justin Portillo struck twice to push the game to penalty kicks, where the Lions missed on two of their first three attempts. But a couple of Earl Edwards stops and seven straight successful tries later, Orlando City had squeaked into the next round.
3) 2002 — Columbus Crew 3, Kansas City City Wizards 2
On the way to their first Open Cup championship, Columbus had to stage a stunning semifinal comeback against Kansas City. The away side went up on an early own goal and Chris Brown doubled Kansas City's lead just past the hour. All was looking lost for the hosts until Edson Buddle got them on the board with under a quarter-hour to play.
That's when John Wilmar Perez took over. The Colombian midfielder tied the game in stoppage time, and then scored a golden goal to win it in the 108th minute. Columbus would go on to defeat the Galaxy in the final to raise their first trophy in club history.
2) 1996 — Rochester Rhinos 4, Tampa Bay Mutiny 3
The one upset that makes our list was authored by the Rhinos in the quarterfinals of the very first Open Cup to include MLS entrants. The Frontier Field side netted a pair of first-half goals and kept a stacked Mutiny lineup goalless for 80 minutes as netminder Billy Andracki went about ringing up 20 saves on the night.
After Mutiny strike star Roy Lassiter finally broke through, Doug Miller quickly answered with his second of the game to push the Rhinos lead back up to two. The brewing home celebration was put on ice when Carlos Valderrama and Evans Wise scored a minute apart to initiate extra time.
Seven minutes from penalties, a local kid named Chris Kennel found the perfect time to fire home the first goal of his pro career for the winner. The Rhinos would advance all the way to the final, but came up short against mighty double winners D.C. United (before three years later becoming the only lower-division team to win the tournament since MLS teams joined the competition).
1) 2017 — New York Red Bulls 3, FC Cincinnati 2
One only needs to reminisce back to last year for the semifinal thriller that takes the prize here. Having already knocked off Columbus and Chicago at Nippert Field, the second-year USL side was one win away from the final. It was to be a big ask, with top scorer Djiby Fall suspended and the Red Bulls ravenously hungry to finally lift a trophy.
Corben Bone sent most of the 33,250 in attendance into gleeful hysterics with the 31st-minute opener, and Austin Berry followed suit to double the lead just after the hour mark. Eager to spoil the party, the Red Bulls kept charging toward Cincinnati's goal.
Gonzalo Veron halved the home side's advantage 15 minutes from regulation time, and a moment later, Bradley Wright-Phillips erased it by rising high for a header. The Red Bulls star striker did it again in the 101st minute, and Tyler Adams made it stand up with a crucial goal-line clearance mere seconds later.