By TIM FONTENAULT
Eight NASL clubs join the hunt for the U.S. Open Cup as the third round continues Wednesday night.
The New York Cosmos, Carolina RailHawks, Atlanta Silverbacks, San Antonio Scorpions, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Indy Eleven and Minnesota United FC all enter in the third round, with fourth round matchups against MLS clubs on the line.
USL Pro side Rochester Rhinos began the round with a 2-1 victory over Reading United on Tuesday, advancing to face defending champion DC United, and 30 more teams will be vying for a spot in the fourth round on Wednesday.
Most of the matches feature teams that play in close proximity to each other, with the winner facing the local MLS club. None of the local matches provides more hope for a big-time fourth round fixture than the match between Brooklyn Italians SC and the Cosmos.
The Cosmos will square off with the fourth-tier side at Beslon Stadium, home of the St. John’s University soccer team, with a chance to play the New York Red Bulls in the fourth round. The Cosmos did not become New York’s second MLS club, but they have been an intriguing addition to the ranks of American soccer. A win over Brooklyn would set up a showdown at Hofstra on June 14.
Wednesday is a historic night for Indy Eleven, which will be playing its first ever U.S. Open Cup match. Their opponent, Dayton Dutch Lions, crashed out against the Columbus Crew at this point in the competition last year, though they will be hoping to replicate their 2012 run to the quarterfinals. The USL Pro season has been a struggle for Dayton, which sits 11th in the table with eight points in nine matches. The winner will face Columbus in the fourth round.
Like Indy Eleven, this is Sacramento Republic’s first Open Cup, and the USL Pro side will look to continue forward in the tournament after a second round win. Up next for Preki’s upstart club, which sits in third place in USL Pro in its first season, is Fresno Fuego of the fourth-tier USL Premier Development League. Fresno upset the Orlando County Blues in the second round, and another upset will earn them a date with San Jose Earthquakes in the fourth round.
Four matches will be streamed live online Wednesday night: Atlanta Silverbacks vs. Chattanooga FC; Orlando City U-23s vs. Charleston Battery; Dayton Dutch Lions vs. Indy Eleven; and Laredo Heat vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Here is a full list of Wednesday’s matches:
- Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at Baltimore Bohemians (PDL), 5:30 p.m. (Winner plays Philadelphia Union)
- NY Greek American Atlas (USASA) at Richmond Kickers (USL Pro), 7 p.m. (Winner plays New England Revolution)
- RWB Adria (USASA) at Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL Pro), 7 p.m. (Winner plays Chicago Fire)
- Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at Carolina RailHawks (NASL), 7:30 p.m. (Winner plays Chivas USA)
- Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) at Chattanooga FC (NPSL), 7:30 p.m. (Winner plays Real Salt Lake)
- Orlando City U23s (PDL) at Charleston Battery (USL Pro), 7:30 p.m. (Winner plays Portland Timbers)
- Brooklyn Italians SC (NPSL) at New York Cosmos (NASL), 7:30 p.m. (Winner plays New York Red Bulls)
- Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Indy Eleven (NASL), 7:45 p.m. (Winner plays Columbus Crew)
- Laredo Heat (PDL) at Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL), 7:45 p.m. (Winner plays Houston Dynamo)
- Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) at Orlando City (USL Pro), 8 p.m. (Winner plays Colorado Rapids)
- North Texas Rayados (USASA) at San Antonio Scorpions (NASL), 8:30 p.m. (Winner plays FC Dallas)
- Minnesota United FC (NASL) at Des Moines Menace (USASA), 8:30 p.m. (Winner plays Sporting Kansas City)
- Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL Pro) at Arizona United SC (USL Pro), 10:30 p.m. (Winner plays LA Galaxy)
- Fresno Fuego (PDL) at Sacramento Republic (USL Pro), 10:30 p.m. (Winner plays San Jose Earthquakes)
- PSA Elite (USASA) at LA Galaxy II (USL Pro), 10:30 p.m. (Winner plays Seattle Sounders)
What do you think of the third-round U.S. Open Cup matchups? Which games stand out to you?
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