All but one FA Cup fifth round spot has been earned, and the soon-to-be filled vacancy provides an interesting debate topic.
Rochdale is a League One entity, and has yet to rise any higher than England’s third tier. “The Dale,” as they are known, sit in the relegation zone and will be sent down without a rich vein of league form (or at least wins in a few of their several matches-in-hand).
But Rochdale upset Football League Championship side Millwall on Tuesday and will move onto the fifth round. Their opponent is the only unknown berth left in the tournament, and the winner of Wednesday’s playoff tie could hardly vary more.
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The Dale could draw Newport County, a League Two side it’s played twice in history when both shared that division in 2013-14. It’s a very winnable contest, and could send Rochdale into the quarterfinals where it could face a giant of the English game. And keep in mind, the could still well lose the match.
Or the Dale could just do that now, and guaranteed at home. Tottenham Hotspur is a heavy favorite to win its replay at Wembley Stadium, and would pack Spotland Stadium for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime match-up on Feb. 17. The rub here is that a loss to Spurs would then ease the schedule burden for the relegation fight.
Again, Spurs are probably going to hammer Newport County on Wednesday, the visitors having earned enough respect by forcing the replay (Newport is 25:1 underdogs to win).
But assume it’s open-ended: Who would you prefer? We choose Spurs, but only by a bit. Given the American equivalent of our fourth-tier club meeting either a fellow NPSL/PDL side or New York City FC, well, we’ll rent a nice chair for Mr. Vieira.