US Open Cup: Three all-MLS clashes highlight start of fifth-round action | Matchday Preview
The 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup moves into its fifth round this week, and for the first time in the competition, fans will get to see some tasty all-MLS clashes. Sporting KC will host the Portland Timbers in a matchup of two of 2013's best teams, while the Texas Derby between Houston and FC Dallas, and a West Coast clash between the Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes. Elsewhere on Tuesday, three MLS teams will attempt to hold off challenges from NASL opposition.
Be sure to check back on MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday night for live updates, a MatchCenter experience and links to streams for all the games. Click here for more Open Cup headlines, and check out this article if you're looking for a lowdown on what the competition's all about.
Philadelphia Union vs. New York Cosmos
Tuesday, June 24, 7 pm ET
PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
Watch Online - PhiladelphiaUnion.com
CHESTER, Pa. – After picking up a 3-1 extra-time win over the Harrisburg City Islanders in their first US Open Cup game last week, the Philadelphia Union felt more relieved than anything else.
Now, heading into their fifth-round matchup against the New York Cosmos on Tuesday at PPL Park, they know they need to play a lot better to advance once again.
“New York will be a completely different team,” Union defender Sheanon Williams said. “They have some good players – some ex-MLS players. So we definitely have to step up our level and not rely on late goals again.”
- Get the latest Union headlines at PhiladelphiaUnion.com
The Union know a little bit what to expect from the Cosmos, who they played in a closed-door scrimmage earlier in the season. They also were paying close attention when the NASL side stormed past the New York Red Bulls, 3-0, to advance to Tuesday’s tilt at PPL.
“They obviously gave Red Bull a good [butt] whooping,” Williams said. “So we definitely have to be ready.”
Carolina RailHawks vs. LA Galaxy
Tuesday, June 24, 7 pm ET
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, N.C.
TV: TWC Deportes (in Los Angeles) | Watch FREE online
The LA Galaxy have been eliminated from the US Open Cup the past two years by the Carolina RailHawks, but they're taking a stronger team to Cary for this year's showdown.
The Galaxy could have something close to their first-choice lineup for Tuesday night's fifth-round meeting with the NASL club, which will be played on WakeMed Soccer Park's top training fields – with temporary bleachers boosting capacity to about 3,000 – while the main stadium's field is resodded.
"We're all expecting to play in this game," said Landon Donovan, who did not travel for LA's 2-1 fourth-round win last week at Arizona United. "I think we're sick of losing to Carolina, we're sick of going out of the Open Cup early, and we don't have any MLS games during this [World Cup] break, so we need it for fitness."
- Get the latest Galaxy headlines from LAGalaxy.com
Robbie Keane could make his Open Cup debut after returning from a short trip home to Ireland following Irish national team friendlies on the East Coast.
Carolina rallied for a 2-1 third-round victory two years ago, then beat LA, 2-0, last year. The RailHawks have only three players on their roster (midfielder Kupono Low and forwards Zack Schilawski and Ty Shipalane) who featured in both matches and just five (with goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald and midfielder Nick Millington) who played last year.
"I really haven't taken any time to think about [what Carolina have]," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "Our objective is to go there and play well. We've got to worry about ourselves. If we play well, we'll be positioned to win the game."
Sporting KC vs. Portland Timbers
Tuesday, June 24, 8:30 pm ET
Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.
Watch FREE on Timbers.com
Sporting KC Outlook:
Sporting Kansas City's depleted roster could get some help in time for Tuesday's fifth-round matchup at home against Portland – the first of two meetings in four days with the Timbers, ahead of Friday's away match in the return to league action.
Midfielder Benny Feilhaber (sprained shoulder) expects to sit this one out, but manager Peter Vermes said Monday that center back Aurelien Collin (hamstring), midfielder Paulo Nagamura (concussion) and right back Igor Julião (quad) will be match-day decisions.
“We're still working through it,” Vermes told reporters. “It might be difficult, because you have two games and it's a quick turnaround. We've got to be really careful still, with some guys. They're still coming back from injury, and we've spent this time now trying to get them better.
"I don't want to rush everyone – or anyone. So we'll make a determination on some of those guys tomorrow, based on what today looks like and how they're feeling, how confident they are.”
Portland Timbers Outlook:
Portland's unique luck of the draw in facing Sporting twice in four days, first in Kansas City, then in Portland, has head coach Caleb Porter talking about the difficulties of an “extremely difficult” turnaround.
“We want to obviously win both games,” Porter told reporters at the team training facility last week. “To do that with a tight window … we feel to give ourselves the best chance we have to do some rotation with the squad.”
To the Timbers, who have touted their depth all season, it’s part and parcel with how they’ve dealt with tight windows already this season. In their fourth-round USOC victory over the Orlando City U-23s last Tuesday, Porter was able to use a mixture of first-choice and part-time starters while bringing in three rookies in the second half of a 3-0 win.
With the return of winger Rodney Wallace, who had offseason knee surgery, the Timbers now have 22 players on their roster who have started games this season.
“It gives us a lot of confidence knowing we have a deep team and knowing that we’ve gone to different guys and they’ve got the job done,” Porter said. “So that helps.”
– DAN ITEL
Colorado Rapids vs. Atlanta Silverbacks
Tuesday, June 24, 9 pm ET
Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.
Watch FREE on AtlantaSilverbacksFC.com
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – All the Colorado Rapids want to do on Tuesday night is to repeat their offensive success from last Tuesday’s 5-2 drubbing of Orlando City.
The Rapids were firing on all cylinders in last Tuesday’s home blowout, and they’re looking to do the same against the Atlanta Silverbacks on Tuesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
- Get the latest Rapids headlines from ColoradoRapids.com
“I think it was all about the mindset,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said of the Rapids’ blowout win last week, spearheaded by a Deshorn Brown hat trick. “The mentality was impressive to me.”
Striker Gabriel Torres netted in a reserves match on Friday night, perhaps giving the Panamanian a chance to earn minutes in Tuesday’s match. But with the offense clicking, it will tough as Mastroeni hopes to keep his team in high gear.
Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas
Tuesday, June 24, 9 pm ET
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
Watch FREE on HoustonDynamo.com
Houston Dynamo Outlook:
HOUSTON – As the Texas Derby shifts to US Open Cup play, the Houston Dynamo are trying to gain their footing as they battle their current four-game losing streak against MLS teams in league play. With FC Dallas coming to town, it's a game that will not lack for intensity.
“I think those early years really made it something good,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said of the rivalry. “Even though the realignment of the conferences has taken away from it, I think there’s still a little animosity when we play against each other.”
Kinnear could face a difficult situation in goal with only Tally Hall available in the net as Tyler Deric will serve a red card suspension and rookie Michael Lisch is cup-tied to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
“We talked about it this morning and hopefully it doesn’t come to that,” Kinnear said when asked about a plan for if Hall cannot play the full 90 minutes. “Tally’s under instructions to play the entire game.”
FC Dallas Outlook:
FRISCO, Texas – After dispatching the San Antonio Scorpions in a 2-0 victory last week, FC Dallas head south to face their rivals the Houston Dynamo for a place in the US Open Cup quarterfinals.
Both because it is their only major trophy in team history, and because said trophy also bears the name of the owner’s family and team's founder, FCD have traditionally taken this tournament seriously.
“It’s extremely important to us,” said veteran defender Stephen Keel said of the competition. “The coaches have stressed that, the owners have stressed that.”
- Get more Dallas headlines at FCDallas.com
Dallas started most of their available starters in dispatching the Scorpions and are expected to do the same on Tuesday. Houston will be missing a number of players, including US international Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia of Honduras, both at the World Cup.
“Our approach is no different than against San Antiono,” Keel said. “Obviously it is a little more with the rivalry which is always going to be tough. I don’t think they like us much very much and I don’t think we like them very much either, so the feeling is mutual.”
The teams have already played once, in Houston on April 5, and it was a 4-1 victory for Dallas, broken open by an injury to Davis and red card to Dynamo defender David Horst. The two teams also met in the fourth round of the 2013 Open Cup, with Dallas running out 3-0 winners.
– KEVIN LINDSTROM
Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Tuesday, June 24, 10:30 pm ET
Starfire Soccer Stadium, Tukwila, Wash.
Watch FREE on SoundersFC.com
Seattle Sounders Outlook:
TUKWILA, Wash. – There might not be a more impressive home-field advantage in North American soccer than the one the Seattle Sounders have at Starfire Soccer Stadium.
The Sounders have never lost a US Open Cup match at the 3,800-seat facility, dating all the way back to 2005 when they were still in the USL. Since 2009, the Sounders are 13-0-0, a record that includes nine wins over MLS opponents. In their last four games at Starfire, the Sounders have outscored their opponents 19-2.
That the Sounders play so well at the cramped confines is no mere coincidence.
"I think that's completely valid,” said Sounders defender Zach Scott, a veteran of the games at Starfire. “It is a tough place to play for opponents. We love playing here. A reserve game is one thing, but it is completely different atmosphere. We love playing in a packed CenturyLink Field, but this is just as fun."
The winning streak will get one of its toughest tests on Tuesday, when the San Jose Earthquakes are expected to bring a close approximation a first-choice side. The Sounders, meanwhile, may actually choose to rest a couple of their veterans as the Starfire turf is in particularly bad shape.
“There might be still a couple of guys that we’re going to hold off that field just because we don’t want things to happen, or it’s really hard on your body,” Schmid told reporters on Sunday.
San Jose Earthquakes Outlook:
The San Jose Earthquakes felt like they deserved something more from their earlier trip to Seattle this season, when only Obafemi Martins’ virtuoso chip over Jon Busch cost the Quakes a road point on May 17. This will be their chance to avenge not only that defeat, but also the Sounders’ contentious win against San Jose in the USOC quarterfinals two years ago.
- Get the latest Earthquakes headlines on SJEarthquakes.com
Watson fielded a predominantly first-team lineup in beating USL PRO affiliate Sacramento Republic FC 2-1 on June 11 in the fourth round. The Quakes took several days off following that win, helping to heal up a bruised squad. The biggest injury question mark remains quicksilver attacker Yannick Djalo, who has not appeared since May 31 due to the latest in a series of muscle problems.
“The difficult thing to do is just getting the balance right [in terms of] what team you put on the field,” Watson said. “The fact that we’ve had some time off, we can look to play a really competitive team, respective of injuries. Once you get to the phase where you’re playing MLS teams, you feel like you’re a little closer to making a good run in the tournament.”