Open Cup Third Round Preview
Some tasty matchups this week
We already previewed the Legion’s game tonight against South Georgia Tormenta, but that is of course far from the only game going on over the next two days. In all there are 24 games in this round.
First off, note that the next round will have a total of 32 teams, not 24. There remain 8 MLS teams to enter the competition, those being Nashville SC, the New England Revolution, New York City FC, the Philadelphia Union, the Colorado Rapids, the Portland Timbers, the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City (the top 4 teams in 2021 in the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively). The 32 teams will be grouped into 8 regional groups for the draw. The remaining 16 teams will then be regrouped into 4 regional groups for the draws for the round of 16 and the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be determined based on geographical proximity.
Anyway, the third round draw presented us with some interesting matchups. The draw (if you watched it) frankly looked pretty suspect to me and more or less rigged to generate those outcomes. That was especially true of the Legion’s group (which consisted of just 4 teams) in which one team’s envelope was opened before it should have been.
That draw kept the Legion and Atlanta United apart, pitting both against lower division opposition (United face NISA’s Chattanooga FC tomorrow). That’s rather a pity from the Legion’s perspective, as this would be not only their first chance to face United in an official match, but the Georgians have a major injury crisis on their hands. Already down numerus players, they lost Josef Martinez for several weeks for additional repairs to his knee, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan just tore his Achilles this past weekend. The Legion’s own issues notwithstanding, this could have been a chance for glory. Instead we get the grudge match against Tormenta tonight (7:00pm) at Birmingham-Southern.
You can see the entire schedule of games here, but these are the games you may want to look out for:
Greenville Triumph v. Charlotte FC (Wed., 7:00pm): The Triumph have one of the stronger followings in USL League One, and Charlotte in their rookie season have had a shakyish start to their existence. Greenville haven’t been great either, but could well advance in this Carolina derby.
The Miami FC v. Inter Miami (Tues., 7:00pm): Another obviously unrigged pairing. What else needs be said?
Orlando City v. Tampa Bay Rowdies (Wed., 7:00pm): Orlando, long a joke in MLS, have gotten good the past couple of years. This one could be a really fun one to watch. Expect the Rowdies to be really up for it.
Forward Madison v. Minnesota United (Wed., 6:00pm): Cheese versus butter. The Dairy Derby. Flamingos versus Loons. The possibilities are endless.
Louisville City v. St. Louis City 2 (Wed., 7:30pm): There are only 2 MLS Next Pro teams in the US Open Cup: Rochester, the only independent club in the league and St. Louis, who only qualify in that their MLS parent technically doesn’t exist yet. They have won all 3 games they’ve played so far. This fleur-de-lis tie could be interesting.
Phoenix Rising v. New Mexico United (Wed., 8:30pm): The only all USL Championship match in the round and it should be a great one.
San Jose Earthquakes v. Bay Cities FC (Tues., 9:30pm): NISA rookies Bay Cities may have caught San Jose at the worst possible time. The Earthquakes are dead last in MLS, having earned just 3 points from 7 games, and fired their head coach Matias Almeyda yesterday. That being said, Bay Cities have just 2 points from 3 games themselves (they advanced by beating Monterey Bay).
LA Galaxy vs San Diego Loyal (Tues., 9:30pm): Landon Donovan returning to his old club may not be the best game of the round, but it’s definitely the best headline and probably the object of all the rigged drawings.
As previously, all games in the round are being streamed on ESPN+.