2018 US Open Cup: USSF announces Fourth Round draw as MLS joins the tournament

Posted by | May 24, 2018
San Antonio FC players celebrate with their fans after defeating the Colorado Springs Switchbacks in a penalty kick shootout in the Third Round of the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Darren Abate | USL

San Antonio FC players celebrate with their fans after defeating the Colorado Springs Switchbacks in a penalty kick shootout in the Third Round of the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Darren Abate | USL

The day after the Third Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup wrapped up, the United States Soccer Federation announced the draw for the Fourth Round.

Twenty U.S.-based Major League Soccer teams will enter the competition to play against the 12 Third Round winners the week of June 5-6. The dates, times and venues of the matchups will be announced later today.

As we wait for the details, here is a brief look at the matchups for Round 4:

UPDATED SCHEDULE HERE

New York City FC (MLS) at New York Red Bulls (MLS)
These two rivals met for the first time in 2017 with the Red Bulls edging NYCFC, 1-0 at Red Bull Arena. We will have a rematch as the Red Bulls will host. While the tournament has not been kind to the Red Bulls over the years, outside of finishing runner-up in 2000, the club has seen a resurgence in the last few years under head coach Jesse Marsch. Last year, they won four games en route to the US Open Cup Final where they lost to Sporting Kansas City, 2-1.

New York City FC has played in three US Open Cup games in their previous three seasons, and each year they have been one-and-done. They were eliminated by the New York Cosmos (NASL) in 2015 and 2016 before last year’s loss to the Red Bulls.

New England Revolution (MLS) at Louisville City FC (USL)
The New England Revolution will be playing a tournament game outside of New England for the first time since they lost the 2016 US Open Cup Final to FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas. This will be the first meeting between the Revs and Louisville City FC, the defending USL champions. The Revs are 6-1-2 (1-1 PKs) against Division 2 pro teams in club history, while Louisville lost their only meeting with a MLS team back in 2015 when they lost a 1-0 road game to the Chicago Fire in the Fourth Round. City are trying to advance beyond the Fourth Round for the first time in club history.

North Carolina FC (USL) at D.C. United (MLS)
This will be the first-ever meeting between North Carolina FC and D.C. United in tournament play. United, a three-time champion (1996, 2008, 2013), will host NCFC at the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown, Md., a place they have enjoyed quite a bit of success over the years. DCU has one of the best home records of any team in American soccer. They are 23-5-2 (0-2 PKs) in front of their home fans since they made their debut in 1996. They also have a sparkling record against Div. 2 pro teams (11-2-2, 1-1 PKs). NCFC won’t be intimidated because they have upset quite a few MLS teams since making their debut in 2007. Their six MLS upsets rank third among all lower division teams in the Modern Era.

Richmond Kickers (USL) at Philadelphia Union (MLS)
It’s another first-time matchup between a pair of East Coast teams as the Philadelphia Union will host the Richmond Kickers. The Union have come so close in recent years to lifting the trophy after hosting back-to-back US Open Cup Finals in 2014 and 2015 (falling short against the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City, respectively). The Union have been taken to penalty kicks six times over the last four years, which, because matches that go to penalty kicks are officially considered a draw, the Union are actually sporting a 10-game unbeaten streak, the second-longest streak of the Modern Era. The Kickers, who won the tournament as an amateur team back in 1995, have had their fair share of success in recent years highlighted by a run to the Semifinals in 2011. They are no stranger to playing MLS teams. The Kickers have played 18 games against MLS opposition, and they advanced five times.

Orlando City SC (MLS) at Miami United FC (NPSL)
Miami United FC, a pro team based in the NPSL, are making history as the first team from that league to reach the Fourth Round. They will host Orlando City SC, a club that is still seeking a signature Open Cup run. The Lions reached the Quarterfinals in 2013 as a USL Pro team, and again as a MLS team in 2015, both times losing road games to the Chicago Fire (MLS). In the history of the club that dates back to 2009 in the USL, Orlando City has never lost to an open division team (8-0-0).

Charleston Battery (USL) at Atlanta United (MLS)
Atlanta United made a splash in their inaugural season in MLS, but their debut in the US Open Cup was short-lived. This game will be a rematch of Atlanta’s first-ever Open Cup game when they defeated the Charleston Battery 3-2 at home. Their run would end in the next round when they lost to the NASL’s Miami FC. The Battery are one of the most historic active teams in American soccer as they were founded back in 1993. They have been a powerhouse in the United Soccer League for more than 20 years, and they have flexed their muscles in the Open Cup as well. They have faced 23 MLS teams in Open Cup play and have advanced nine times, the second-most MLS upsets of any lower division team.

Minnesota United FC (MLS) at FC Cincinnati (USL)
FC Cincinnati, a team that set the American soccer world on fire with their run to the US Open Cup Semifinals last year, will travel to Minnesota to take on a team that is still searching for a signature Cup run. Dating back to their NASL days, Minnesota United has never advanced beyond the Fourth Round of the competition. They made the move to Major League Soccer last year and were knocked off by the eventual champions, Sporting Kansas City in the opening game.

Chicago Fire (MLS) at Columbus Crew (MLS)
Long-time rivals Chicago Fire and the Columbus Crew will square off for the sixth time in US Open Cup play. Their rivalry was born in the 1998 US Open Cup Final when the expansion Fire beat the Crew at Soldier Field, 2-1 in extra time. This is one of the most common matchups in the Modern Era with only the Sounders and the Timbers and the New England Revolution and the Rochester Rhinos having more (7 each).

Colorado Rapids (MLS) at Nashville SC (USL)
When it comes to Open Cup resumes, if Nashville SC is going to play their first game against a MLS team, hosting the Colorado Rapids is a pretty good plan. The Rapids have struggled in the tournament since finishing as the runner-up to the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1999. Since that year, they have failed to advance in multiple games in a single tournament. That’s 14 straight years of failing to win multiple games. Nashville, a USL team that are set to join MLS in 2020, are making their first US Open Cup run this year.

Sporting Kansas City (MLS) at Real Salt Lake (MLS)
Sporting Kansas City, the defending US Open Cup champions will travel to Real Salt Lake to kick off their title defense. These two teams met in the 2015 Semifinals with Sporting advancing to the title game where they lifted the Cup. Real Salt Lake were the runner-up when they lost in the 2013 Final at home against D.C. United in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Sporting Kansas City knows all about good crowds at US Open Cup games with the highest average attendance of any home venue in the Modern Era. However, Real Salt Lake are no slouches either. They rank second behind Sporting in average attendance (minimum of 10 games) with 12,468 per game.

NTX Rayados (USASA) at Houston Dynamo (MLS)
One of this year’s Cinderella stories, NTX Rayados, a Dallas-based club that barely practices, will travel down to Houston to take on the Dynamo. The Dynamo have reached the Semifinals twice (2006, 2009), but haven’t advanced beyond the Quarterfinals since 2009. Rayados will attempt to become the first amateur team to advance beyond the Fourth Round in the Modern Era.

FC Dallas (MLS) at San Antonio FC (USL)
FC Dallas, who are one of the most consistent Open Cup performers of the Modern Era, will travel south to take on San Antonio FC. Only one club in the history of the US Open Cup (Kutis SC) have more Quarterfinal appearances than FC Dallas and the 2016 US Open Cup champions will take on a Division 2 pro team. Dallas has played against 20 Division 2 professional teams and have only been eliminated once.

FC Golden State Force (PDL) AT LA Galaxy (MLS)
FC Golden State, the last remaining PDL team, will take on the Los Angeles Galaxy. FC Golden State are trying to become the first amateur team to advance beyond the Fourth Round, but they will have to upset one of the giants of Major League Soccer to do it. The Galaxy, who aren’t as strong as they have been in recent years, got a scare the last time they played against an amateur team at home. UPSL club La Maquina FC took the Galaxy to extra time before the two-time US Open Cup champions pulled away in the second extra time period.

Fresno FC (USL) at Los Angeles FC (MLS)
A pair of first-year teams will square off with Fresno FC taking on Los Angeles FC. Fresno enter this weekend middle of the table in the USL standings while LAFC have enjoyed a nice start to their inaugural season in MLS under the leadership of two-time Open Cup champion Bob Bradley. They are currently ranked second in the MLS Western Conference.

San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) at Portland Timbers FC (MLS)
The Earthquakes will head north to take on the Timbers in one of the all-MLS matchups. This is the fourth time the two clubs have met dating back to the Timbers’ inaugural US Open Cup run in 2004 when they were a member of the A-League (Div. 2 pro). This will be the eighth US Open Cup game in a row where the Timbers will play a team from Major League Soccer.

The Quakes are coming off their best Open Cup run in club history last year, where they reached the Semifinals. They fell one penalty kick shootout shy of reaching their first championship game, falling to eventual champion Sporting Kansas City on the road, 5-4 (after a 1-1 draw).

Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) at Sacramento Republic (USL)
The four-time US Open Cup champions will travel south to Sacramento to take on Republic FC. The Republic are no strangers to playing MLS teams in their relatively brief history. They have played four MLS teams in their first four tournament appearances, headlined by a 4-1 home win over Real Salt Lake last year in the Fourth Round. Seattle has been one of the most dominant teams of the Modern Era winning four titles and winning 36 games, which ranks third in the Modern Era.