2011 Third Round MLS pairing scenarios announced; Rochester only lower division team to host

Posted by | June 15, 2011

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.


  • Reeves' Army says:

    City also played FC Dallas this preseason.

  • mtl says:

    absolute sh*t that 7 of 8 mls teams are hosting.

  • McBob says:

    Way to go guys, way to ruin my dream match up of Pumas vs Sounders in Kitsap.

  • Matt says:

    It really seems like the article ought to explain how the pairings and home teams are determined. I mean, that’s kind of the whole point of the article…

  • ERic says:

    Well, I guess since there’s a spot in the CCL at stake, MLS teams have decided to try a little harder to win this thing. The confusing and annoying thing is, it seems like whoever bids for the home games are, while the coaches, in some cases, see things differently.

  • Jenn says:

    I think was a terrible decision for MLS teams to host games in the third round. The lower teams are the ones who need the exposure and publicity. For example the sounders going to kitsap would be a huge deal in bremerton….this is a time where the little guy gets the short end of the stick 🙁 Bad Move!

  • Jonathan says:

    As this is a USSF tournament (and not MLS), if they follow previous years, all qualifying teams must send bids to the federation if they want to be a host team. Teams/facilities have to meet minimum requirements such as seating capacity (#?), lights, in the past all games must be plated on grass – and other such standards. Some clubs DON’T want to host while others maybe can’tcompete with other teams when faced with the USSF requirements. So fans of smaller/lower division clubs should first ask their club officials if they wanted to host, or even put in a bid?!

  • Mark F says:

    The Red Bulls play in New Jersey? Thanks for clearing that up.


  • chuck says:

    Can anyone verify Jonathan’s comment? I believe he is correct, at least that is how it has been in the past. And it aligns with USSF’s interests, which have a lot more to do with making $ than growing the sport in this country.

    • Josh Hakala says:

      Jonathan is correct, although I don’t believe there is a grass requirement (although I’m sure that factors into the pros column on the pro/con list). Basically they determine which team can put on the best event. Ticket sales, facility, quality of the field …and of course the amount of bid the team makes. We’re working on a story that explains the process … stay tuned.

  • Nick A says:

    A nice indicator of the willingness of MLS clubs to entertain the notion of hosting lower-division teams, and a reality shock on the unwillingness of USL clubs to host. Or maybe it’s just an indicator of USSF going with the big boys. To be fair, though, there aren’t a ton of teams outside the top two tiers that have control over their venue, and enough draw to make hosting appealing.

  • 9Nine9 says:

    MLS teams hosting 3rd rounds matches knock my US Open Cup woody right down to the ground!!!

  • PITdood says:

    I realize that funding is a major issue for American soccer, but I think giving the ‘little guys’ more of a chance to host would add to the appeal. I try to tell people in Pittsburgh about the tourney, and they say “yeah, that’s kinda cool”. Now if I could say, the Columbus Crew might come to town if the Riverhounds win, that would definitely pique interest.

  • chris says:

    For the 3rd round, all MLS teams should travel. For those teams making it to the 3rd round, bringing an MLS team to their home stadium/field/pitch would be a huge draw and in turn help out the lower team’s attendance and fan base in the future.
    This year, at least 1 PDL team will make it to the 3rd round – Real Colorado or Kitsap Pumas – as they face each other in round 2. So if Real wins – their “reward” is to travel back to Seattle. And for the Pumas and their fans – instead of hosting the 3rd round match against the Sounders like they would have last season – will have the “reward” of driving an hour and a half in rush hour traffic to watch their team.
    I really hope that all the MLS teams lose in the 3rd round.

    • Josh Hakala says:

      The way the system is now, the richer teams are able to avoid to buy their way out of traveling through the bidding process. Soccer fans who love the european game will appreciate the “survival of the richest” approach that the bidding brings to the open cup

  • Ken says:

    There is something unnerving about MLS teams hosting 7 of 8 round of 16 games. Either they should make it like the FA Cup will all MLS teams in a random round of 32/64 draw or better regional alignment so Chicago Fire Premier could be matched with Chicago Fire.

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