Third-tier Harrisburg stuns D.C. United 1-0 on Fisher header.
U.S. Open Cup
Cephas' first strike sends Carolina past Fire to quarterfinals.
| McColm Cephas' first goal as a Carolina RailHawk defeated the Chicago Fire and advanced his team to the Lamas Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals in the club's inaugural season.
CARY, N.C. (Sunday, July 15, 2007) -- The Carolina Railhawks have not been particularly successful as a United Soccer Leagues First Division expansion team, but the first-year club nonetheless advanced to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals tonight with a 1-0 upset of Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire before 4,4855 at SAS Soccer Park.
Striker McColum Cephas, who had not scored in six games for Carolina, found net early in the second half with the decisive tally. "It hasn't been going my way for a while, even in practice," Cephas, who scored 23 goals in two collegiate seasons at Virginia Commonwealth (2002-03), told the Cary News. I was just happy we won this game."
The RailHawks, who stand 10th in the 12-team, second-tier USL-1, became the fourth USL club to eliminate an MLS team in the Open Cup Round of 16 with one of the eight matches left to be played.
Both teams wasted chances in the opening 45 minutes and it was Chicago that had the first good opportunity after intermission with forward Chad Barrett getting loose for a breakaway in the 48th minute. Carolina goalkeeper John O'Hara came out and snuffed the chance.
"It was an angled shot and I didn't give up a rebound. That was the main thing," said O'Hara, who made three saves, to the News.
Eight minutes later, Railhawks striker Anthony Maher received the ball at the top of the penalty area and played it to Cephas, who found a seam and took a few a few touches toward goal. Fire keeper Jon Busch charged out and Cephas drilled his shot under an outstretched Busch's hand for his first goal in a Carolina uniform.
"It was very quick," said Cephas, a 28-year-old native of Liberia in his fifth USL season. "I didn't see (the pass) for a second. It just came to me. I was at the right place at the right time."
After scoring, Carolina immediately went into an extremely defensive posture and allowed only two shots in the final 25 minutes.
Unlike D.C. United, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Galaxy, MLS teams eliminated from this tournament while using mostly reserves, the Fire had seven starters from Thursday 4-0 league loss to Houston in the opening 11 in tonight's contest. And Chicago saw midfielder Justin Mapp, who recently represented the United States at Copa America, leave the match at halftime with a groin injury.
After a promising start, the Fire has collapsed and is 1-8-2 in MLS since May 1. Juan Carlos Osario suffered through a painful debut as Chicago coach Thursday when it was routed at home by the defending league champion Dynamo. Tonight's setback was no less painful, given his team's lackluster performance.
"As we expected, the RailHawks were very difficult team to play against," Osorio told the News. "They play to their strengths. They know their system and are efficient at it. However, we created enough chances, especially in the first 10 minutes of the (second) half, to have won this game. As far as us, I think we have to improve because we look like a team that created enough chances, but we're not finishing those chances."
Finishing has been a major problem for Carolina, which has 12 goals in 16 outings, going 4-5-7 in its inaugural campaign. "We got our goal. We missed a couple again," Carolina coach Scott Schweitzer said. "We probably should have had three or four in the first half, but we were professional. We closed it out finally. We finally did all the right things at the end. . . It was 1-0 but, once again, we carried the whole game."
Carolina outshot the Fire 13-10.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third round schedule and results:
Wednesday, July 18
At Qwest Field in Seattle
Chivas USA (MLS) vs, Seattle Sounders (USL-1), 10:30 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, July 15
At SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C,
Carolina Railhawks (USL-1) 1, Chicago Fire (MLS) 0
Wednesday, July 11
at Hempsville High School Stadium in Lancaster, Pa.
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-2) 1, D.C. United (MLS) 1
Tuesday, July 10
at University of Richmond (Va.) Stadium
Richmond Kickers (USL-2) 1, Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS) 0
at PAETEC Park in Rochester, N.Y.
New England Revolution (MLS) 3, Rochester Raging Rhinos (USL-1) 2
at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C.
Charleston Battery (USL-1) 1, Houston Dynamo (MLS) 0 (2OT)
at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
Colorado Rapids (MLS) 3, California Victory (USL-1) 1
Monday, July 9
at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas
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FC Dallas (MLS) 1, Atlanta Silverbacks (USL-1) 1
(Dallas advanced 4-3 in penalty kicks)