DAYTON, Ohio – Making the 10 hour trip west, the Dayton Dutch Lions travel to Sporting Kansas City Tuesday for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup quarterfinals.
The Lions have clawed past a frustrating USLPRO season to overwhelming success in the Open Cup, recording the first 3-points in season play last Saturday with a 4-0 win over the Wilmington Hammerheads. “It’s exciting to play against Kansas City,” said Coach Ivar Van Dinteren. “After Saturday’s game we have a good feeling, and we will keep that up for tomorrow’s game. It will be a tough battle but our only goal is to win the game.”
The Journey to the Quarterfinals
With a bye in the first round, the Lions beat the Chicago Fire PDL 2-1 at Toyota Park Practice fields in the last second. Eli Garner was able to find the back of the net in the first half and the Lions kept the lead until the final minutes when Fire tied the score. With 30 second left in stoppage time, Daniel Holowaty scored the game winner off a corner.
The third round of the US Open Cup sent seven MLS teams packing, including the Columbus Crew, who in 2002 beat the LA Galaxy 1-0 to win the tournament. The Crew struck first against the Lions, scoring off a penalty kick. But Daniel Holowaty assisted Gerrit-Jan Bartels and Gibson Bardsley in the 78th and 81st minutes to lift the Lions 2-1 over the Crew.
The win sent the Lions to Rochester, Mich. to meet the Michigan Bucks of the PDL who had defeated the Chicago Fire 3-2 in overtime. Eli Garner scored in the 12th minute and the Bucks tied the match in the 55th minute. The game remained deadlocked until the 7th minute of overtime when Joel DeLass converted a penalty kick into the winning goal.
Now, the Lions face MLS’ Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals. Kansas City entered the tournament in the third round and defeated Colorado Rapids 2-0 improving the record to 15-12-4. Kansas City, 9-4-2 in regular season play, are coming off a 4-0 loss to Philadelphia Union on Saturday June 23. The match-up marks Dayton’s first time in the quarterfinals after losing 4-0 to Richmond Kickers in the first round last year and it’s Sporting KC’s eighth appearance in the quarterfinals with this being the second year in a row.
History of the Cup
Since 1914, amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with US Soccer have gathered to play in one of the oldest, annual tournaments in the world. First known as the National Challenge Cup, the tournament changed the name in 1999 to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup to honor soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt. The winner has its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy. Even though the tournament has been going on for 99 years, Major League Soccer teams were non-existent in the competition until 1996. Since that time, an MLS team has been the winner or runner-up every year, including the Seattle Sounders consecutively winning the last three years. In 1995, the USL’s Richmond Kickers won the final and in 2008 USL’s Charleston Battery lost the final to DC United.
The final eight include three USLPRO teams: Harrisburg City Islanders, Charlotte Eagles and the Dayton Dutch Lions, and five MLS teams: Philadelphia Union, Sporting Kansas City, Chivas USA, San Jose Earthquakes, and the Seattle Sounders, who are looking to break the record of three consecutive Cup wins.
Why They Want to Win
While not all teams take the tournament seriously, especially in the MLS, the winner of the competition receive $100k and qualify for the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champion’s League group stage. CONCACAF divides the confederation into three sub-divisions for the tournament with Mexico and the United States each receiving four entries. The US sends the MLS regular season champions (Supporters’ Shield winners), MLS Cup winner & runner up and the US Open Cup winner. With those stakes on the line, the Lions look to fight to the finals with the next obstacle of Sporting Kansas City tomorrow night.