Blackbaud Stadium

U.S. Open Cup third round pairings set


OK, this is no offense at all to the Ventura Fusion or the Dearborn Stars or any of the other smaller clubs that clawed their way into Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s 68-team field this year. After all, those clubs make the U.S. Open Cup the gem that it is.

But when the big boys get involved, creating the possibility of storybook upsets, that’s when this tournament really gets a good, frothy head on it. Ahhhh!

Following first-round play earlier this week, the third-round matchups are now set for the tournament’s milestone 100th edition; MLS teams enter in the third round.

The best of the best in Open Cup greatness – think about ice cream with Oreo and hot fudge greatness in the toppings department – happens when MLS teams visit the smaller sides.

For instance, in the matchups set for May 28 or 29 include:

  • Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union will travel to play with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds or the Ocean City Nor’Easters. No offense, Ocean City, but we want to see a Pennsylvania derby play out at that fantastic little stadium that just opened across the river from downtown Pittsburgh. Yes. Please that.
  • Houston Dynamo at the San Antonio Scorpions’ swell new home? Yep. (Houston could also host FC Tucson.)
  • D.C. United at the Richmond Kickers of USL is a regional rivalry deserving of mention. (Or, similar to Houston and others, they could travel or play at home, depending on second-round outcomes next week.)
  • How cool would be be to see the San Jose Earthquakes at Charleston Battery’s darling home ground, Blackbaud Stadium (pictured above)?

You get the picture.

More information and the entire third-round rundown for the 100-year old tournament’s third round can be found here. (Actually, about everything you could possible want to know about the U.S. Open Cup can be found at that site, a fantastic labor-of-love resource for all things U.S. Open Cup.)

Klopp to the Kop: Multiple reports say deal agreed at Liverpool

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24:  Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp shouts to his players during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Juventus and Borussia Dortmund at Juventus Arena on February 24, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp is on his way to Liverpool to sign a contract naming him the next coach of the Reds.

The celebrated manager, 48, has been on “hiatus” from football since leaving Borussia Dortmund last season.

[ MORE: Messi to stand trial in Spain ]

Reports starting emerging earlier today that an agreement was imminent, and now the BBC is among those reporting that Klopp will be rolled out Friday morning.

From the BBC:

No contract has yet been signed but that is viewed as a formality when Klopp arrives in Liverpool later on Thursday. He will be officially unveiled by Liverpool on Friday morning at 10:00 BST.

There’s not much to say besides this: Klopp’s addition to the Premier League will give more color and brilliance to the country’s footballing scene. Only a certain class of manager can be instantly expected to find a better system for an inherited group of players.

This could and should be a game changer on Merseyside.

Appeal rejected! Lionel Messi will face court trial in Spain

VIGO, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 23:  Lionel Messi looks dejected after the La Liga match between Celta Vigo and FC Barcelona at Estadio Balaidos on September 23, 2015 in Vigo, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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It was a mere 48 hours ago that Lionel Messi looked close to in the clear when it came to tax evasion charges.

Now the question is whether a Spanish court will lock away the greatest active footballer, as a judge rejected the prosecutors’ (!!!) request to drop the charges.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

Messi and his father have already made a $5.5 million corrective payment, but there’s principle in play here. And the judge wants to know how Messi can claim he had no idea what was being done with his money.

From the BBC:

Lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities demanded 22-month jail sentences for both defendants.

“There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties,” wrote the judge in a court filing, according to the AFP news agency.

Can you imagine one of the world’s richer men ending up in a Spanish prison? It’s very difficult to consider. In some ways it’s more plausible that he would buy his own island and start the “Messi Isle Premiership”.

Still, we won’t laugh off the idea, especially with FIFA apparently going down. Messi in prison. That’s something. Sepp in Switzerland. Lionel in Spain.