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U.S. Open Cup: Earthquakes host Sporting KC, Red Bulls to travel in semis

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We already know three of the four teams that will represent the field for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals, and now we know the scenarios of where the matches will be played.

[ MORE: Closer look at the CONCACAF Gold Cup standings ]

The San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting KC and New York Red Bulls all booked their places into the final four this week after advancing past the quarterfinals in their respective matches, while Miami FC and FC Cincinnati will battle it out at a later date after their fixture was postponed due to inclement weather.

Miami and Cincinnati represent Division II leagues NASL and USL, respectively.

The Earthquakes and Sporting KC will meet at Avaya Stadium on August 9, while the Red Bulls will travel to the winner of Miami FC vs. FC Cincy on the same day.

From there, Sporting KC drew the highest priority of hosting the final. Simply put, if Sporting KC wins its match against the Quakes, Peter Vermes’ side will go on to host the title match on September 20.

The Red Bulls drew the second-highest priority, while Miami FC/Cincy were picked third and the Earthquakes were last — meaning they would be on the road regardless of which club they draw in the final.

U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC-FC Cincinnati match rescheduled for Aug. 2

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There’s going to be a few weeks to sit on which team will round out the field of four in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals.

[ MORE: Three keys for the USMNT versus Honduras ]

Miami FC and FC Cincinnati will decide that spot on August 2 after the two clubs had to postpone their match on Thursday night due to inclement weather.

Miami — winners of the NASL Spring Season in 2017 — will host the USL side from Riccardo Silva Stadium, with the victor earning the chance to take on the New York Red Bulls in the semifinals.

The Richmond Kickers were the last non-MLS side to reach the Open Cup semifinals, while the Rochester Rhinos (USL) are the last club to win the competition from outside the ranks of MLS in 1999.

U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal preview: Cali Clasico, Second-tier showdown

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The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup holds its quarterfinals this week, with a match on the schedule each of the first four nights of the week.

[ MORE: Rankings USOC’s Final 8 ]

Need your MLS fix during this Gold Cup break? How about a Cali Clasico later this evening to whet your appetite?

San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. ET Monday

The hosts are short several players on Gold Cup duty, and LA has been good on the road in MLS play. Giovani Dos Santos’ presumed return should be enough to tip the field toward LA, but this has been anything but a predictable Galaxy squad.

Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas — 8:30 p.m. ET Tuesday

Few MLS teams are deeper than these two, but KC’s loss of Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, and Dom Dwyer isn’t just an absence of skill, it’s an absence of grasping the value of this tournament.

Miami FC vs. FC Cincinnati — 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

It’s the NASL versus the USL in a battle one league will trumpet and another will disavow by the time it ends. MFC will have to get by last round’s hero — FCC goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt.

New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls — 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday

Can the Revs deal with the absences of Kelyn Rowe and Juan Agudelo? There will be plenty of pressure on Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez, and Kei Kamara to thrive in a rematch of a fun-if-sloppy game on July 5.

Eight remain: Ranking the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinalists

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We’re down to the Final Eight for the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, though the paths to the final don’t make this a simple power rankings.

The two remaining Division II sides face each other in the quarters, meaning a non-MLS team will make the USOC semifinal for the first time since the 2011 Richmond Kickers.

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news ] 

Meanwhile, two of Major League Soccer’s best will tangle in a match that ensures either 2016 champs FC Dallas or 2015 winners Sporting KC will exit the tournament. And the winner of the Red Bulls and New England Revolution will face either FC Cincinnati or Miami FC and be heavily-favored to advance to the final.

Here’s how we rate ’em:

8. New England Revolution — The Revs may have the opportunity to face a non-MLS side in the semis, but they’ll first have to get by the Red Bulls in a Gold Cup window which sees New England without Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe, and Je-Vaughn Watson (RBNY is without Kemar Lawrence).

7. FC Cincinnati (USL) — It doesn’t matter whether you rate the USL or NASL higher, traveling down to Florida will put FCC at a significant disadvantage.

6. Miami FC (NASL) — As fine as MFC has looked in its last two USOC outings, Alessandro Nesta’s bunch has to complete two more MLS upsets to win it all.

5. San Jose Earthquakes — Face the same problems as New England, missing a trio of players for the Gold Cup as a Cali Clasico date awaits with the LA Galaxy.

4. LA Galaxy — A slight advantage over San Jose, but then will stare down one of the deepest teams in MLS whether it faces FCD or SKC in the semis.

3. Sporting KC — Both SKC and FCD will miss significant players for the quarterfinal, but SKC’s losses — Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer, and Graham Zusi — sting the slightest bit more.

2. FC Dallas — Depth is there to help Dallas become the first back-to-back winners since Seattle clinched a trio of titles in 2011.

  1. New York Red Bulls — The path is clear to the final: Beat a New England team missing a trio of stars and then handle a second-tier side.

Cincinnati boost MLS hopes with incredible crowd, victory

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32,287 fans packed into Nippert Stadium on Wednesday to see USL side FC Cincinnati beat the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer in U.S. Open Cup Round of 16.

It was the second-largest crowd in U.S. Open Cup history.

Second-tier FC Cincinnati is the hottest story in American soccer right now.

[ MORE: Full US Open Cup roundup ]

On Wednesday Cincinnati won on penalty kicks to embarrass Bastian Schweinsteiger and Co. as the red-hot MLS side came unstuck in front of Cincy’s incredible supporters, with Mitch Hildebrandt saving three penalties to send Cincinnati’s fans wild.

Since their USL debut in 2016 (that’s right, just over 12 months ago) the progress FC Cincinnati has made is startling, first under USMNT legend John Harkes as coach and now under Alan Koch.

With an average crowd of 17,296 for league games in 2016, Cincinnati had crowds of 35,061 for a preseason visit of Crystal Palace last July, 24,376 to watch them play Orlando City B in the USL in September and then 30,187 for a USL playoff defeat to Charleston Battery in October. Palace were blown away by Cincinnati’s support and ProSoccerTalk understands plenty of other Premier League clubs have been interested in including the Ohio city as a stop-off on U.S. tours of their own.

The old saying “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t ring true in Cincinnati. They’re already there.

These attendance numbers are unprecedented at this level, with Sacramento Republic and Orlando City the only two he can come close to the USL records Cincinnati has set over the past 22 months as a club.

With the Ohio city on a shortlist of 12 for the next round of MLS expansion for a $150 million fee, Don Garber and his expansion committee have to sit up and take notice of the incredible progress Cincinnati has made in such a short space of time.

Yes, other cities like Sacramento and San Antonio have now had a strong franchise for many years and the steady attendance figures suggest so, but Cincinnati is blowing all of their expansion competitors out of the water with the scenes witnessed at Nippert time and time again over the past 12 months.

Adding Cincy to MLS makes sense geographically too, as it will help link up Columbus Crew, Sporting KC and Chicago Fire in a mid-west square. Everything about having FC Cincinnati in MLS adds up.

However, the new stadium deal is a must and FC Cincinnati released those plans for a soccer-specific venue earlier this month. However, just like we’ve seen in Atlanta and in Seattle in the past, having an MLS team based at a larger stadium sometimes works. Why couldn’t FC Cincinnati stay at Nippert if they’re packing it out?

All of that remains to be seen but what we do know is that Cincinnati is backing soccer and FCC in a big way. With NASL and USL expanding, lower-league soccer in the U.S. has never been stronger than it is right now.