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Why do we love the U.S. Open Cup? Let us count the ways.

FC Cincinnati midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin reacts after winning a U.S. Open Cup round-of-16 match against the Chicago Fire. (John Minchillo/Associated Press)

We love the U.S. Open Cup because both Miami FC and FC Cincinnati won dramatic home matches Wednesday, setting up a quarterfinal showdown between the second-division sides and ensuring a non-MLS team in the semifinals.

We love it because the North American Soccer League team from Florida scored at the death to upset MLS’s Atlanta United, 3-2.

We love the fact that 9,004 turned out on a weeknight at Florida International University.

We definitely love Miami FC’s Kwadwo Poku, an electrifying attacker who fell out of favor at New York City FC and landed on his slick feet in South Florida, where on Wednesday, he accelerated into space on the counterattack deep in stoppage time and scored a magical goal.

We love the Open Cup because of the audio call on Poku’s winning goal:

We love that Cincinnati (go figure) has a love affair with a second-year club in the United Soccer League, one that ousted MLS’s Chicago Fire on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes.

We have to love that a crowd of 32,287 — the second largest in modern Open Cup history behind Seattle’s 35,615 for the 2011 final — was there to witness it. And ESPN was there to provide live coverage. (Were you watching, Don Garber?)

We love underdog stories, like the 28-year-old goalkeeper with no top-division experience, Mitch Hildebrandt, who stopped three shots in the tiebreaker against Chicago.

We love Ike Opara, a central defender, continuing to score for Sporting Kansas City.

We love that FC Dallas, the reigning champion, is hungry to retain the trophy.

We love that Brian Wright, a rookie from Canada and the University of Vermont, scored the go-ahead goal for the New England Revolution against D.C. United in a cozy setting at Harvard University.

We love the Open Cup because an amateur team from Baltimore that’s sponsored by a discount liquor store upset second-tier Richmond and scared the hell out of DCU in the previous round.

We love the Open Cup because New England’s Diego Fagundez did this:

We love that a late away equalizer by the Philadelphia Union forced 30 minutes of extra time (as opposed to settling for a draw in league play) and that the New York Red Bulls rebounded in penalty kicks as second-choice goalkeeper Ryan Meara thwarted Philly’s third attempt.

We love that two L.A. Galaxy youngsters, 22-year-old Ariel Lassiter and 20-year-old Bradford Jamieson, scored two minutes apart against the second-flight Sacramento Republic.

We love that Seattle’s Aaron Kovar, who has played 39 minutes in league matches, scored in consecutive Open Cup outings, including this lovely free kick:

We love this U.S. Open Cup because San Jose’s Danny Hoesen danced and danced, and danced a little more with the ball, in the closing moments.

We love that American soccer has a cup competition of its own to embrace and celebrate, one that is growing in stature after years in the shadows, a tournament that rekindles our spirits during the summer league doldrums, that introduces fresh faces and improbable heroes, and keeps big clubs on their toes and inspires small clubs to dream.


July 10: Los Angeles Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes (Avaya Stadium), 10:30 p.m. ET

July 11: FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City (Children’s Mercy Park), 8:30

July 12: FC Cincinnati at Miami FC (Florida International University), 7:30

July 13: New York Red Bulls at New England Revolution (Harvard University), 7:30

*Following the quarterfinals, the USSF will conduct a draw to determine hosting scenarios for the semifinals and final.

Semifinals: Aug. 8-9

Final: Sept. 20