Peter Vermes and Ike Opara - 2016 - Sporting Kansas City
USA Today Images

Opara faces SKC, #PlayYourKids and more: Wednesday US Open Cup primer

MLS clubs made a memorable entrance into the U.S. Open Cup last night. 

There was an instant classic, as the New England Revolution came from behind to beat the New York Red Bulls 3-2 in extra time. There was an upset, as Saint Louis FC beat the Chicago Fire 2-1. And there was LAFC dominance as has been usual for 2019, as Carlos Vela led his side to a 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake.

What does tonight have in store? Here are some storylines to watch:

Chances for Keaton Parks, Juan Pablo Torres

NYCFC vs. North Carolina FC | 7 pm ET | ESPN+

The moment Keaton Parks and Juan Pablo Torres have been waiting for since arriving at NYCFC is here: Head coach Dome Torrent confirmed the pair will get their first starts in sky blue since joining this summer. 

The US youth internationals have had to patiently wait for their chances in a deep and talented midfield. As for the opposition, former USMNT interim boss Dave Sarachan is the head coach of North Carolina. 

More #PlayYourKids in Dallas

FC Dallas vs. OKC Energy | 8 pm ET | ESPN+

It's Ricardo Pepi time. 

The FC Dallas academy product and North Texas SC star will get his debut with FCD, after the 16-year-old scored seven goals and an assist in six matches in USL League One. Fellow Homegrown Bryan Reynolds, 17, will also get the start; the forward has appeared in four MLS matches off the bench. 

Ike Opara against SKC for first time since trade

Minnesota United vs. Sporting Kansas City | 8 pm ET | ESPN+

In January, Ike Opara was traded from Sporting Kansas City to Minnesota United in a blockbuster deal. The former MLS Defender of the Year enjoyed a highly successful run with SKC, and now he's preparing to face his former club for the first time. 

He isn't sure how difficult it'll be tomorrow in a cup game in Minnesota, but he knows at some point the memories will kick in.

"It will be somewhat emotional at some point," Opara told Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press in a wonderful, wide-ranging interview in which he also discussed his relationship with Peter Vermes (which is still good, he says). 

Cascadian Open Cup clash

Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers | 10:30 pm ET | ESPN+

It's another Cascadian clash in the Open Cup; it's always can't-miss soccer when this rivalry reignites. What will happen in this iteration of Sounders vs. Timbers?

In the Open Cup, this matchup has become synonymous with Clint Dempsey's infamous ripping up a referee's notebook in Seattle's wild 3-1 extra time loss to the Timbers in 2015 Open Cup play. Never forget. 

Elsewhere...

  • In an MLS vs. MLS match-up, D.C. United host the Philadelphia Union (7 pm ET | ESPN+) as two of the league's top Eastern Conference sides meet in the fourth round of the Open Cup.
  • Last year it was a top-of-the-table USL fixture. Now FC Cincinnati and Louisville City meet in the Open Cup (7:30 pm ET | ESPN+). 
  • Orlando City SC enjoyed their deepest Open Cup run in 2018 and will look to build on that this year, starting with a road match against Memphis 901 (8:30 pm ET | ESPN+).
  • Suddenly, the Colorado Rapids are surging in MLS play and are out of last place in the Western Conference. Can they keep the good times rolling against New Mexico United (9 pm ET | ESPN+)?
  • The lone remaining amateur side in the competition, Orange County FC, face the LA Galaxy (10:30 pm ET | ESPN+) as they look to continue their Cinderella run.

LIVE YOUR COLORS: Download the free MLS app - The official MLS app gets a major update for 2019, making it easier than ever to keep up with your favorite club, check standings, watch videos and much more.