Tonight is the night.
Now the big boys from Major League Soccer are rolling in.
Time for some giant killing.
I have professed my love for the U.S. Open Cup plenty of times in this very blog, so there should be no surprise that I have an extra spring in my step this morning.
Round 3 of the Lamar Hunt Open Cup kicks off tonight, with nine MLS teams entering the tournament. Some big upsets are on the cards, but surely not as many as last season. Right?
Here is a look at the games involving MLS sides, home sides listed first:
Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta Silverbacks
Philadelphia Union vs. Ocean City Nor’easters
LA Blues vs. Chivas USA
Rochester Rhinos vs. New England Revolution
Sporting Kansas City vs. Des Moines Menace
Charleston Battery vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Richmond Kickers vs. D.C. United
Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. FC Dallas
So where do you see the potential upsets folks? Personally I can see quite a few glaring ones. Plenty of NASL and USL Pro sides will be licking their lips in anticipation.
First of all, despite the Colorado Rapids recent great form in MLS, they have to travel all the way down to Orlando midweek against a free scoring Orlando City side who have something to prove as they continue to stake their claim as a potential MLS franchise. This one is a big banana skin for Oscar Pareja’s men.
Then looking at the struggling MLS sides Chivas USA and D.C. United, they both face tricky away ties at LA Blues and Richmond Kickers respectively. Both could tumble out, with their main focus turning around their woeful MLS campaigns.
Can the Charleston Battery down San Jose? I’m not so sure. But that is a pretty huge road trip for the ‘Quakes and they haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders of late. That one could go to extra time and maybe penalties.
Elsewhere I think RSL will dispatch the Atlanta Silverbacks quite comfortably. This week Jason Kreis has reminded his players of their third round exit to the Minnesota Stars last year. He called it “the worst day in the history of the club” and certainly won’t want a repeat of that.
Are the Ocean City Nor’easters the new Cal FC? Who knows. The New Jersey side already caused a big upset by knocking off Pittsburgh in Round 2, who says they can’t clean out Pennsylvania?
Surely defending champs Sporting KC won’t lose at home to the Des Moines Menace? Who knows. That is the beauty of the beautiful game.
One thing is for sure, make sure you follow all the Open Cup scores this evening. Use the hashtag #USOC100 to get all the latest scores on Twitter.
This Centennial edition of the Open Cup is sure to be one to remember.