Two Major League Soccer sides are already out. Will more join them?
The third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup concludes on Wednesday as the seven remaining MLS sides get into the action against lower-division opponents. MLSsoccer.com will have full coverage of the matches, including a live chat with updates and reports from the matches. In the meantime, here's a roundup preview to get you prepared for another wild night of action.
Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) vs. Chicago Fire (MLS), 7 pm ET
The Fire finally have a forward who has scored more than two goals this season, and they may just use him against the Charlotte Eagles on Wednesday night. After Mike Magee arrived in Chicago this past weekend after the Fire acquired him for the MLS rights to Robbie Rogers, coach Frank Klopas may look throw his newest attacker right into the lineup against the USL side.
“I think the chances are pretty high,” the Chicago manager admitted.
The Men in Red will look to remove the awful taste left by last year's 3-2 loss to the Michigan Bucks in their USOC opener, and, fortunately for them, the Eagles are not in a great run of form. Sitting in the middle of the USL PRO pack, Charlotte are 4-0-2 at home this season. – Anthony Zilis
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) vs. LA Galaxy (MLS), 7:15 pm ET
The Galaxy get another trip to Cary, N.C., to face the RailHawks, who scored late to pull out last year's third-round meeting, and Bruce Arena has already railed against how “ridiculous” it is that his team his traveling cross-country in successive years. In fact, Arena has stayed behind and left the coaching duties in this one to reserve-team coach Curt Onalfo.
Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez are off with their national teams, Todd Dunivant is dealing with a flare-up of his leg strain, and pretty much every other first-line player will remain back in SoCal and meet the team later this week for Sunday's MLS game against New England.
Who will travel, and almost certainly play, is Robbie Rogers, who signed Friday with LA and in Sunday's rout of Seattle became the first openly gay player to feature in a North American men's major-league team sport. He needs minutes – he thinks his ceiling is “maybe 30, 40 minutes” – and Arena says he'll be “involved as much as he can in games” and that Wednesday's Open Cup clash is one “that he can be involved in.” – Scott French »
New York Red Bulls (MLS) vs. Reading United AC (PDL), 7:30 pm ET
The Red Bulls have been on a roll in MLS play in recent weeks, going unbeaten in their last seven games, and now they will look to carry that momentum over into the US Open Cup.
First-year head coach Mike Petke has said he plans on taking the tournament seriously, but it is still doubtful that players like Thierry Henry and Jámison Olave play in the club’s tournament opener against Reading United given their history with injuries (Tim Cahill and Roy Miller are away on international duty).
Speaking of injuries, Ryan Meara’s potential return from the hip surgeries that ended his promising 2012 campaign could be the biggest talking point in this match. Petke has said he wants Meara to make his long-awaited comeback in this Open Cup game and it is likely that the youngster does so after being on the sidelines for almost a full year. – Franco Panizo
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) vs. Seattle Sounders (MLS), 7:30 pm ET
If the last four years have told us anything about the Seattle Sounders, it’s that they take the US Open Cup as seriously as any MLS team ever has. Four straight finals appearances – and three titles – are proof. This year should be no different, as head coach Sigi Schmid has promised to use a mixture of starters and reserves, while suggesting this would not be used as an opportunity to get previously unused players minutes.
They’ll start by facing the Rowdies, the defending NASL champions and currently in a three-way tie for second-place in their league. This will mark just the second time that the Sounders have ever had to travel to the East Coast for an Open Cup game and its the first time since winning the championship game at D.C. United in 2009. – Jeremiah Oshan
Columbus Crew (MLS) vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO), 7:30 pm ET
The Crew look to avenge last year's 2-0 loss to Dayton on Wednesday at Crew Stadium in a third-round match of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Despite Columbus coach Robert Warzycha's desire to field many of his regulars, that may not be possible because of numerous injuries, including a thigh contusion suffered Sunday by leading scorer Dominic Oduro during a 2-2 draw at New York.
"You will see some of the same guys," Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com.
Maybe. Joked goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum: "We may have to put the Crew Juniors out there." – Craig Merz
Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. FC Tucson (PDL), 8:30 pm ET
Tyler Deric had a promising run in CONCACAF Champions League play in 2012 and the 24-year-old goalkeeper is set to continue his maturation as he’ll man the pipes as the Dynamo host FC Tucson in the third round of the US Open Cup.
As he looks to continue his strong tournament play, he’ll have help in front of him with center back Bobby Boswell likely to get the start. The field general is a likely candidate to start in a reserve heavy game as he serves a two-game suspension as the club looks to advance for the first time in USOC play since 2010. – Darrell Lovell
Portland Timbers (MLS) vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (USL PRO), 10:30 pm ET
On Wednesday, the Timbers return to the spot of what is arguably the lowest moment in the club’s history: the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Last year, Portland lost their opening USOC game against amateur club Cal FC in an embarrassing 1-0 overtime decision.
Wilmington sit in 11th place in the USL PRO with six points from nine games (2-7-0). Should Portland, riding an 11-game unbeaten streak in MLS, field a lineup made up mostly of reserves, a player to watch could be Colombian forward José Valencia. He scored the equalizer off the bench in the Timbers’ 2-2 draw May 18 at Vancouver. – Dan Itel