The United States Soccer Federation announced the pairing and hosting scenarios for the Third Round of the 2011 edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Tuesday afternoon, unveiling the opponents for the eight Major League Soccer clubs that enter the tournament June 28 and 29. Seven of the eight MLS clubs are guaranteed to host their opening match of the tournament with the Chicago Fire the lone exception as they would travel to play the Rochester Rhinos.
The Rhinos have faced the Chicago Fire twice before in the US Open Cup, both at home in 1999 and 2005. The Rhinos won the first, 1-0, en route to becoming the only tournament champions from a lower division since the launch of MLS in 1996. In 2005, the Fire prevailed 5-4 in penalties after a 1-1 draw. Chicago’s other potential opponent is the Harrisburg City Islanders, whom they have never met in the tournament.
The defending two-time champion Seattle Sounders as well as the New York Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City and Los Angeles Galaxy all drew pairings with two potential opponents that are in their tournament debut or have never played an MLS club before in the Open Cup. Among them are the Chicago Fire Premier, who in their fourth tournament appearance, may advance to play at Kansas City’s newly unveiled LiveStrong Sporting Park.
The Sounders match will be the lone contest not on Tuesday, June 28. Seattle will play either the Real Colorado Foxes or local side Kitsap Pumas the following night at the StarFire Sports Stadium, one of two alternate venues being utilized in the Third Round. The Galaxy will not host their match versus one of the two local sides vying for the match – Los Angeles Blues and Ventura County Fusion – at the Home Depot Center, but at Titan Stadium.
The Columbus Crew were paired with the winner of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Richmond Kickers second round contest. The Crew have never faced Pittsburgh in the tournament, but defeated the visiting Kickers 3-0 in 2002.
FC Dallas drew either the tournament debutant Orlando City or perennial giant-killer Charleston Battery, who they have a lengthy tournament history against. The Battery were eliminated by Dallas twice in Charleston at Blackbaud Stadium, but will be traveling to Pizza Hut Park, where they were finally victorious in 2008 in a stunning 3-1 result. In 2006 the Battery were felled via penalties, 5-3, after playing to a thrilling 3-3 draw. A year later, Dallas returned to South Carolina and needed overtime to advance 2-1.
The New York Red Bulls, who play in New Jersey, will square off against one of the two teams who do play in the greater New York City metropolis, either the three-time US Open Cup champion New York Pancyprian Freedoms or expansion side FC New York.
Real Salt Lake will play host to a club that will be making the largest trek in the nation, coming in from North Carolina will be either the Charlotte Eagles or Wilmington Hammerheads.
If the Rochester Rhinos win, it would be the club’s 22nd meeting with an MLS opponent in 16 previous appearances in the tournament, 14 of which have seen the club play against an MLS team at least once. It would be the 19th such match for the Charleston Battery, who have played a club from the top flight in 10 of its 11 previous appearances. The Richmond Kickers also have a lengthy history versus MLS clubs in the tournament having played them in nine of their dozen previous trips to the Open Cup, a total of 11 contests.
Harrisburg and Wilmington are next on the list, among the second round field, with six previous MLS matches in tournament history, and Pittsburgh is sixth with three MLS meetings. Charlotte has played an MLS team in the event only once before, and although Orlando City is in its first season, coach Adrian Heath and many of the players played against an MLS opponent the past two years as members of the Austin Aztex franchise that relocated during the offseason.
2011 US Open Cup Third Round Pairing Scenarios
FC New York / NY Pancyprian Freedoms at New York Red Bulls
8 p.m. ET Red Bull Arena; Harrison, N.J.
Chicago Fire at Rochester Rhinos
7:35 p.m. ET Sahlen’s Stadium; Rochester, N.Y.
Harrisburg City Islanders at Chicago Fire
7:30 p.m. CT Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds / Richmond Kickers at Columbus Crew
7:30 p.m. ET Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
Charlotte Eagles / Wilmington Hammerheads at Real Salt Lake
7 p.m. MT Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
Orlando City SC / Charleston Battery at FC Dallas
8 p.m. CT Pizza Hut Park; Frisco, Texas
Chicago Fire Premier / Madison 56ers at Sporting Kansas City
7:30 p.m. CT LIVESTRONG Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.
Los Angeles Blues / Ventura County Fusion at Los Angeles Galaxy
7:30 p.m. PT Titan Stadium (CSUF); Fullerton, Calif.
Real Colorado Foxes / Kitsap Pumas at Seattle Sounders
7 p.m. PT Starfire Sports Stadium; Tukwila, Wash.