Tuesday’s game will be the 8th US Open Cup game ever played indoors. Seven of them have been held here, at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich.
Though they were the home team, the Michigan Bucks were forced to face a hostile crowd as Detroit City and their faithful caravaned 30 minutes north to the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich. Despite the noise, the Bucks still easily dispatched many Open Cup watchers’ sentimental favorite with a 3-0 victory. Now in Round 2, one of the Open Cup’s most successful amateur sides faces its first professional club of the year as the USL’s Portland Timbers 2 travel to Michigan Tuesday evening. The match will be the eighth US Open Cup game ever played indoors, with seven of them hosted by the Bucks at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
There is online video available for the game and fans can follow the action with the hashtag #USOC2015.
Portland Timbers 2 (USL) at Michigan Bucks (PDL)
Ultimate Soccer Arenas; Pontiac, MI – 7:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ONLINE VIDEO
Winner will play winner of Seattle Sounders 2 / Kitsap Pumas
(If Kitsap wins, Michigan/Portland will host, If Seattle wins, the Sounders host)
Portland Timbers 2 Open Cup records First US Open Cup game
Michigan Bucks Open Cup records
Overall: 13-10-1 (0-1 PKs) | Home: 9-7-1 (0-1 PKs) | vs. Div. 3: 7-4-0
Last entry: 2014 (Lost 1-0 in OT vs. RWB Adria of USASA in Round 2
Best finish: 2012 Fourth Round (Lost 2-1 in OT vs. Dayton Dutch Lions)
The Bucks have a long history in the USOC and tonight will mark the club’s 25th match in the tournament. No stranger to having faced professional teams, the Bucks have posted a respectable 9-8-1 record against pro clubs, including a 7-4 record against teams at the USL level (Division 3).
After finishing off DCFC in the First Round play last Wednesday, the Bucks opened their PDL season with a strong 2-0 victory over TFC Academy with goals from their captain Tom Owens and forward David Goldsmith (who also scored against DCFC). The team employed the same high-tempo, attacking style that shut Detroit down.
Timbers 2 enters the tournament with current USL record of 3-3-2, sitting at 7th in Western Conference. Though this is the first test in the USOC for the reserve side, the club features several players who were part of the Timbers U23 club that nearly upset the USL’s Arizona United in last year’s Second Round. The team has also featured a number of players this season who have spent time with the MLS side in recent years including GK Daniel Withrow (a former Bucks player) and Will Johnson, a MLS star who is working his way back from injury, though it’s doubtful Portland will allow these guys to be cup-tied to the USL side.
The last time the Bucks hosted a pro team at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas, they upset Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire back in 2012.
Two names the Bucks will need to contain, however, are the duo of Rundell Winchester and Kharlton Belmar.
Winchester, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, played both semi-pro and professionally in Trinidad and has made a number of appearances for the T&T National Team. He’s built on his burgeoning pro career in his first season stateside with two goals for Timbers 2, including a late equalizer this past Saturday against Real Monarchs.
Belmar, the VCU product and Timbers U23 alumnus is lighting up the USL in his first year of professional play with five goals in eight games, good for 3rd in the USL scoring race. This video features a two-goal performance from the young forward early in the USL season. He’ll be sure to cause problems for the Bucks backline.
Fitness might be a concern for Portland, though. As the USL schedule divides teams between Eastern and Western Conferences, this match will be Portland’s longest roadtrip of the season, and it comes after the club already had to travel to play at altitude Saturday evening in Utah(a 1-1 draw vs Real Monarchs).
These are two young attacking teams. If the Bucks can get an early score and PDX’s fitness proves to be a problem, we may be in line for an upset.
The Timbers senior team has an unfortunate record in Open Cup play, with two upset losses to USASA clubs (one as a USL-1 side, and the other as a MLS team). The Timbers will aim to change that reputation and avoid adding to the Bucks’ Modern Era record for pro team upsets.
The winner of this match will go on to face the winner of tomorrow’s match between Seattle Sounders 2 (USL) and Kitsap Pumas (PDL).