2018 US Open Cup Round 5 preview: Three USL teams, potential record-breaking crowd highlight tonight’s action

Posted by | June 20, 2018

2018 US Open Cup bracket - Round 5The Round of 16 for the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is scheduled to wrap up tonight as four games will take place in Boyds, Md., Louisville, Ky., Atlanta, Ga., and Los Angeles, Calif.

D.C. United and Orlando City will square off to see who will take on the Philadelphia Union in the Quarterfinals. We may see a record-breaking crowd when Atlanta United hosts the Chicago Fire. The winner of that game will host either Louisville City FC or Nashville SC, which guarantees a lower division team in the Quarterfinals for the third year in a row and the 11th time in the last 12 years. Out west, the round will wrap up with first-year team Los Angeles FC hosting the USL’s Sacramento Republic FC.

Check out a preview of each Wednesday game below, including links to tonight’s live video feed.

#USOC2018 coverage:
2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup schedule, results
2018 US Open Cup statistical leaders
2018 US Open Cup Player of the Round winners
2018 US Open Cup qualifying Round 1 review
2018 US Open Cup qualifying Round 2 review
2018 US Open Cup qualifying Round 3 review
2018 US Open Cup qualifying Round 4 review

MORE: How amateurs Dallas Roma FC beat World Cup champs, an MLS team and it cost $75,000

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DC United vs. Orlando City SC - 2018 US Open CupOrlando City SC (MLS) at D.C. United (MLS)
LIVE VIDEO (Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET)

It is an island of misfit toys melee on Wednesday as the team without a stadium (D.C. United) takes on the team without a coach (Orlando City SC) in the Round of 16. The winner of this game will play at the Philadelphia Union in the Quarterfinals on July 18.HOW THEY GOT HERE / RECENT FORMThese are interesting times for the two Major League Soccer sides. D.C. United (2-6-4, 10 points) are still three weeks away from the opening of their brand new stadium, Audi Field, and will thus be hosting Wednesday’s encounter at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. The venue has served them just fine so far in this tournament as they defeated North Carolina FC 4-3 on penalties in the previous round.

In league play, D.C. are coming off of a wild 4-4 draw with Toronto FC. Although they sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings their form has improved, and they’ve gotten points in three of their last five matches (1-2-2, 5 points).

As for Orlando City SC it has been an interesting week. On Friday, while most of the soccer-watching world was paying attention to Spain and Portugal or having a pint with friends at Providence Park or Children’s Mercy Park, Orlando City SC were firing their manager. The club announced that they would be letting go of Jason Kreis after the club lost their sixth consecutive match a few days ago. Although they did defeat NPSL side Miami United in the previous round of the Open Cup the club has struggled to find any real measure of consistency this season.

There have been some rumblings that the recently-retired former World Player of the Year Kaka (ESPN reports he is not being considered) and Brazilian coaching legend Carlos Alberto Perreira taking over, but odds are none of this will happen before Wednesday night. In the meantime, assistant coach Bobby Murphy will be taking over in the meantime. He already has some experience in this type of a situation, having served as the interim manager after Adrian Heath was fired in 2016.

PAST MEETING

On the pitch the two sides should be very well acquainted with one another having already drawn 1-1 in the first game of the year for both squads. United’s goal came from Yamil Asad in the 32nd minute and despite Orlando receiving a first half red card, Stefano Pinho would score a stoppage time equalizer in his Orlando City debut after emerging as one of the breakout stars from the 2017 US Open Cup (with the NASL’s Miami FC).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Asad is United’s second-leading scorer with five goals behind Jamaican international Darren Mattocks (7), who joined the team in the offseason from the Portland Timbers. Mattocks’ seven goals ranks fifth in Major League Soccer.

For Orlando City, Pinho made a name for himself last year as a member of Miami FC. He tied for the US Open Cup lead with four goals as he helped Miami reach the Quarterfinals. The club’s leading scorer is veteran Dom Dwyer with seven goals with nine league games. Unfortunately for the Lions, Dwyer is recovering from an injury and has missed the last few games. It’s unclear if he will pay against United. One player who will definitely not play for Orlando is playmaker Yoshimar Yotun who leads the team in assists with five. Yotun is representing Peru at the FIFA World Cup.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

D.C. United (MLS)
20th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 32-13-6 (3-3 PK)
Home: 23-5-3 (1-2 PK)
vs. MLS: 10-9-2 (0-2 PK)
Best finish: 1996, 2008, 2013 champions

Orlando City SC (MLS)
10th US Open Cup appearance (4th as MLS team)
Overall: 15-9-1 (1-0 PK) | As MLS: 3-3-1 (1-0 PK)
Away: 5-6-1 (1-0) | As MLS: 2-1-1 (1-0)
vs. MLS: 3-7-0 | As MLS: 1-1-0
Best finish: Quarterfinals (2013, 2015)

D.C. United has won three US Open Cup titles (1996, 2008, 2013) and come into tonight’s match riding a five-game home unbeaten streak. The club has played all of its Open Cup home games at the Soccerplex since hosting a Semifinal match in 2010 at RFK Stadium. It is no surprise that with three Open Cup titles in their trophy case, United is one of the winningest teams in the tournament. D.C.’s 32 wins are the fifth-most in the Modern Era (1995-present).

Orlando’s Open Cup history dates back to 2009 when the club began as the Austin Aztex in the United Soccer League. The Lions have reached the Quarterfinals twice (once in 2013 when they were a USL Pro club and in 2015 in their first season in MLS), and they are one win away from reaching the round of eight for the third time.

The club’s best tournament run was in 2013 when, as a USL Pro team, they upset a pair of MLS teams, headlined by a 1-0 road win over the defending champion Sporting Kansas City. The win was made even more special because Orlando was the USL affiliate of Sporting. What’s more, four of the Lions’ key players (including Dom Dwyer) were on loan from Kansas City which forbid them as the parent club from playing against them in the tournament. Even without those players, Orlando pulled off the upset.

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Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 9.26.49 AMNashville SC (USL) at Louisville City FC (USL)
LIVE VIDEO (Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET)

The only all-USL matchup of the Round of 16 means that there will be a lower division team in the Quarterfinals regardless of who wins the game. It will be a tough task for whoever advances as the winner will play on the road against the winner of the Atlanta United-Chicago Fire game on July 18.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

In their inaugural trip to the US Open Cup, Nashville SC finds themselves one win away from the round of eight after three straight home wins. They began their Cup run in Round 2 where they defeated Inter Nashville FC (NPSL) 2-0, followed by a 3-1 win over the PDL’s Mississippi Brilla, 3-1. After back-to-back wins over amateur sides, they met the Colorado Rapids of MLS in the Fourth Round and had no trouble advancing. Nashville not only kept Colorado off the scoresheet, but they held them to just two shots. Neither shot forced a save from veteran goalkeeper Matt Pickens.

Just like Nashville, Louisville City reached the Round of 16 by winning three games in front of their home fans. They began with a 5-0 win over the PDL’s Long Island Rough Riders, followed by a 1-0 win over fellow USL club Saint Louis FC. In the Fourth Round, they picked up a dramatic 3-2 win over the New England Revolution thanks to a stunning goal from Brian Ownby. The former University of Virginia star also assisted on another goal and his overall performance earned him TheCup.us Player of the Round honors.

PAST MEETINGS

This will be the third meeting of the season between the two clubs with the first two league games being won by the home team. Louisville won the season opener 2-0 back on March 17 and Nashville won the game in the Music City on May 13 by the same scoreline.

RECENT FORM / PLAYERS TO WATCH

Nashville’s first-year success in the USL is due, in large part, to their defense. They have only allowed eight goals in their first 13 games, with Matt Pickens leading the way in goal with a league-leading seven clean sheets. Only one team in the league has fewer goals allowed than Nashville (Pittsburgh Riverhounds with seven) Nashville is 6-2-5 in league play and is currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, however, don’t let that seven-point gap between them and first-place FC Cincinnati fool you. Nashville has played two fewer games than Cincinnati. Nashville is riding an eight-game unbeaten streak (4-0-4) in USL play. They haven’t lost a game in any competition since April 14.

Defending USL champion Louisville City FC’s title defense is off to a positive start with a 7-2-3 record in league play. They are currently tied for second place in the Eastern Conference, six points behind first-place FC Cincinnati. Just like Nashville, though, they also have played fewer games than FC Cincy. Three fewer games, in fact. They have yet to lose a home game in all competitions with an 8-0-1 record. Cameron Lancaster has been a big part of the team’s success, scoring six goals in nine matches so far this season. Lancaster also has two goals in Open Cup play, including a game-tying goal against the New England Revolution.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Louisville City FC (USL)
5th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 6-3-1 (1-0 PK)
Home: 3-0-1 (1-0 PK)
vs. Div. 2: 2-2-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2015)

Nashville SC (USL)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 3-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Div. 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: First appearance

Nashville, in its inaugural season in the USL, is trying to make Tennessee soccer history. Only one Tennessee-based club in the last 105 years has reached the Quarterfinals. Back in 1998, the Nashville Metros of the USL’s A-League (Div. 2 pro) upset the Kansas City Wizards (Sporting KC) 3-1 at the Colombia Soccer Stadium Complex in Nashville to become the first Tennessee team to reach the round of eight.

Louisville City is making the club’s fifth appearance in the tournament and could also make some state history with a win over Nashville. A Kentucky team has never reached the Quarterfinals and Louisville City would be the first. History is on their side as they are undefeated at home in tournament play with a 3-0-1 (1-0 PK) record.

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Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 9.26.43 AMChicago Fire (MLS) at Atlanta United FC (MLS)
LIVE VIDEO (Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET)

Atlanta United will look to do what it could not do in 2017: advance to the round of 8 in the U.S. Open Cup. They can do that with a win against fellow MLS side Chicago Fire at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night. The winner will host a USL team — either Nashville SC or Louisville City FC — in the Quarterfinals on July 18. A record-breaking crowd is expected in Atlanta that will not only shatter the Fifth Round / Round of 16 attendance record but may challenge the tournament’s all-time attendance record of 35,615 set at CenturyLink Field when the Seattle Sounders hosted the Chicago Fire in the 2011 US Open Cup Final.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Chicago drew the Columbus Crew 2-2 in the clubs’ Fourth Round match on June 6 at MAPFRE Stadium, advancing to the Round of 16 with a 10-9 win in a penalty shootout. With things knotted at nine a piece, both goalkeepers took their turn in the eleventh round shootout. Fire keeper Richard Sanchez scored the eventual winner before stopping Columbus’s Logan Ketterer to see his team through to the next round.

Atlanta had a simpler time with the USL’s Charleston Battery in Kennesaw, Ga., opening its tournament run with a 3-0 victory. Andrew Carleton’s booming strike in the 14th minute started the scoring, while Ezequiel Barco (47th min.) and Romario Williams (65th min.) provided insurance for the home side.

PAST MEETINGS

The two teams have already grown familiar with each other this year. They met in MLS play on May 5 in Bridgeview, Ill., a 2-1 win for Atlanta. That gave Atlanta a 2-1-0 edge in the series. Last year, Atlanta beat Chicago 4-0 at Bobby Dodd Stadium on March 18, 2017 – the club’s third game in its brief history – before being shut out in Bridgeview 2-0 less than three months later.

RECENT FORM / TEAM LEADERS

Atlanta are led by Josef Martinez, whose 14 goals lead MLS. Miguel Almiron’s seven assists are best on the team and tied for third in the league. Their play has helped Atlanta to the top of both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield tables with 33 points.

Meanwhile, Chicago are tied with Orlando City SC with 19 points, but are seventh in the conference standings by virtue of five wins to Orlando’s six. Nemanja Nikolic leads the team with eight goals across all competitions.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Chicago Fire (MLS)
21st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 40-14-6 (4-2 PK)
Away: 14-13-3 (2-1 PK)
vs. MLS: 21-9-2 (2-0 PK)
Best finish: 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006 champions

Atlanta United FC (MLS)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 2-1-0
Home: 2-0-0
vs. MLS: 0-0-0
Best finish: Fifth Round (2017)

The Chicago Fire are the most successful MLS team in US Open Cup history. They are one of eight clubs in the history of the 105-year history of the US Open Cup to win four tournament championships (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006), but they have not lifted the trophy since 2006. No team in the history of the tournament has more Semifinals appearances (12) than the Fire, and only two teams (Kutis SC, FC Dallas) have more Quarterfinal appearances than Chicago’s 13. They are also the only club in the history of the tournament to reach four consecutive Semifinals twice (2003-06, 2013-16).

Atlanta is only in the club’s second year and has eliminated the Charleston Battery (USL) in their opening round match in each year. Last year, they fell 3-2 on the road against Miami FC (NASL). The state of Georgia hasn’t had a lot of success in the US Open Cup over the last century. The inaugural US Open Cup launched in 1913 and no Georgia-based club has ever won the tournament or even reached the championship game. In fact, only two Georgia clubs have ever reached the Semifinals: The 1980 Atlanta Wolves and the 1981 Atlanta Datagraphics. The only Georgia-based club to make a deep run in the Modern Era (1995-present) was the 2014 Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) team that reached the Quarterfinals led by their head coach Eric Wynalda. In fact, only four Georgia teams have reached the Quarterfinals in tournament history. Atlanta United are one win away from joining that select group.

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Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 9.26.17 AMSacramento Republic FC (USL) at Los Angeles FC (MLS)
LIVE VIDEO (Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET)

The match between Sacramento Republic and LAFC is the lone Round 5 matchup that pits a USL side against a MLS side. Both teams are seeking their first trip to the Quarterfinals with the winner heading on the road to take on the Houston Dynamo on July 18.

HOW THEY GOT HERE / HISTORY

Sacramento reached the Fifth Round of the US Open Cup by taking down the four-time champion Seattle Sounders in the Fourth Round with a 2-1 extra time win at home. This win sent the Republic to the Fifth Round for a second straight season. This is the club’s fifth trip to the US Open Cup and of those five appearances, they have won multiple games in four of those years, but have never advanced beyond the Round of 16. The Fourth Round’s upset of the Sounders marked the second year in a row (and second time overall) that the Republic have upset a MLS side, having eliminated Real Salt Lake in 2017 by the score of 4-1.

Before beating the Sounders, the Republic had to get by the PDL’s San Francisco City in the Second Round. They then traveled away from home to beat USL rivals Reno 1868 1-0 in the Third Round. To this point, Sacramento has been led by Kevin Aleman who has two goals in the tournament, including the game-winner in the Reno game and Villyan Bijev, who had a man of the match performance to lead the Republic to a win over the Sounders.

The expansion MLS side LAFC is coming off their first ever Open Cup match in Round 4 where they beat Fresno FC 2-0 through goals from Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing. While LAFC, as a club, don’t have any Open Cup experience, they are led by a head coach in Bob Bradley who won the US Open Cup in 1998 and 2000 with the Chicago Fire. In 1998, the Fire were an expansion team in MLS so Bradley certainly has experience with putting together a winning team in Year One.

Los Angeles FC (MLS)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-0-0
Home: 1-0-0
vs. Div. 2: 1-0-0
Best finish: First appearance

Sacramento Republic FC (USL)
5th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 11-3-1 (0-1 PK)
Away: 1-2-1 (0-1 PK)
vs. MLS: 2-2-1 (0-1 PK)
Best finish: Fifth Round (2017)

RECENT FORM / TEAM LEADERS

The Republic currently sit in third place in the USL Western Conference and are coming off a tough 1-0 loss at the weekend to San Antonio. They are led by Cameron Iwasa who has scored a team-best five goals, and also had one of the two goals in Sacramento’s win over Seattle in the Open Cup.

LAFC will be without a few players who are away for the World Cup, notably Omar Gaber (Egypt), Laurent Ciman (Belgium), Marco Urena (Costa Rica), and Carlos Vela (Mexico). They still have the talent to get the result, with new signing Adama Diomande scoring at will in MLS since joining LAFC from Hull City in England. LAFC currently sit in third place in the MLS Western Conference and are coming off a thrilling 4-3 comeback win against San Jose Earthquakes before having a week off for the World Cup. Their leading scorer is the absent Carlos Vela with seven goals and five assists, but Diego Rossi is not far behind with five goals and six assists.

Sean Maslin, Sydney Hunte and Thomas Hodul contributed to this report

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