Reading United and West Chester United both had their U.S. Open Cup runs for 2019 end Wednesday night at the hands of USL Championship sides in Kentucky and Alabama.
Reading fell 3-0 to Louisville City FC and West Chester United was on the losing end of a historic night in Birmingham, Alabama with a 4-1 loss. The win for Birmingham Legion was the first ever Open Cup victory not only for the first-year club but a first for the state of Alabama.
Though it may not show in the scorelines, neither team has any reason to return home with their heads hung.
Reading United, still just a little over a week into their season, ran into the two-time defending USL Cup Champions and never recovered from an early two-goal deficit set up by goals from Abdou Mbacke Thiam and George Davis IV inside 20 minutes. Louisville added a third goal on a well-taken free kick from Sunny Jane in the 88th minute.
Reading’s lineup featured Philadelphia Union Academy grads Jeremy Rafanello, Lamine Conte, Kalil ElMedkhar and Jahmali Waite on the bench and Villanova defender Richie Schlentz started at left back.
Back-to-back @USLChampionship champs (& 2018 Open Cup Quarterfinalists) @loucityfc move through to the Third Round after a comprehensive 3-0 win over @ReadingUnited.— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) May 16, 2019
Highlights | #USOC2019 pic.twitter.com/vevrUgzDfC
Like their counterparts at Reading, West Chester United wasn’t content sitting in and playing for penalties. The amateurs created a number of chances on the offensive end, but were burned in their own defensive third by set pieces and a lethal counter attack led by the pacy Edward Opoku.
Former Philadelphia Union forward Chandler Hoffman put the Legion on top with a penalty in the 22nd minute after Enda O’Neill was whistled for a foul on Opoku in the box. West Chester goalkeeper Pierre Gardan came up with a huge stop to deny Hoffman a brace 15 minutes later, but Femi Hollinger-Janzen headed home a goal on the ensuing corner kick at the near post to make it 2-0.
West Chester refused to go away and continued to make a game of it. They came close to cutting the lead in half in the 49th minute when Aiden McFadden got to a rebound off Troy Amspacher’s rocketed free kick. Legion goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg made a diving save to deny the Notre Dame midfielder. Minutes later, Birmingham capitalized on a counter attack to make it 3-0 through Prosper Kasim.
Chas Wilson made it 3-1 when he pounced on a bad back pass and deposited it inside the far post. Wilson chipped the ball into the net in the 81st minute but the offside flag was up and the Predators offense created some more chances but weren’t able to cut anymore into the lead.
Opoku, who had an earlier chance hit woodwork, made it 4-1 in the 89th minute to make it look like more of a dominant performance than it was for the home team.
.@bhmlegion struggled early against talented amateurs @WCUSCPredators, but they ended up booking a place in the 3rd Round with a comprehensive 4-1 win.— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) May 16, 2019
Highlights | #USOC2019 pic.twitter.com/BYSqnf6xXt
With both Reading United and West Chester United out of the competition — and Penn FC on hiatus — the only remaining team from our area in the Open Cup is the Philadelphia Union and they won’t enter the competition until the fourth round.
Several teams with ties to the Union will be in play in third round matches on May 29. That includes the Tampa Bay Rowdies (John McCarthy, Antoine Hoppenot, Leo Fernandes, Yann Ekra and Chris Konopka), Louisville City FC (John Hackworth and Danny Cruz on their technical staff), Nashville SC (Derrick Jones), San Antonio FC (Joshua Yaro, Walter Restrepo and Michael Lahoud), Las Vegas Lights FC (Cristhian Hernandez), New Mexico United (Santi Moar), Memphis 901 FC (Adam Najem and Morgan Hackworth), Birmingham Legion (Chandler Hoffman) and Forward Madison FC (Brian Sylvestre).