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U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals: A Look Ahead



By Tuesday night's end, the U.S. Open Cup field will be down to four teams.

A three-time defending champion, four other MLS sides and three upstart USL Pro clubs remain in what has been a riveting tournament so far under the new format. 

The two big questions looming Tuesday are: Will the Sounders' Open Cup reign finally come to an end against an in-form San Jose side? In a tournament full of Cinderella stories, will any USL Pro clubs make it to the semifinals? 

Here is a closer look at the night's four matches along with the pairings for the semifinal round:



It's essentially Big Brother vs. Little Brother, as the Union take on their affiliate club for the second time in two weeks after dropping a 3-2 friendly result to the City Islanders on June 12.

The Union are playing a much more inspired, confident attacking game under interim coach John Hackworth and are coming off a 4-0 thrashing of Sporting Kansas City Saturday to build some momentum heading into Tuesday night's match.

The City Islanders have been an MLS killing machine this tournament, taking down the New England Revolution in penalty kicks after one of the wildest periods of extra time ever and the New York Red Bulls in the following round in extra time to reach the quarterfinals. Both of those matches were at home, however, where the City Islanders are unbeaten against MLS competition. Venturing into PPL Park against a motivated Union side will be another challenge altogether.


It's hard to know what to make of the Dutch Lions, who are the Toronto FC of this tournament field in that they just won their first league game (1-7-5 in USL Pro) while finding success in non-league competitions. Their most pronounced victory came over the Columbus Crew in the third round, and they topped Cinderella PDL side Michigan Bucks to keep their run alive.

They'll meet a Sporting Kansas City side that has had its high ups be met with some recent low downs, most notably the weekend loss in Philadephia. With SKC returning to Livestrong Sporting Park for this match, it would seem like the ideal way to turn things around ahead of Friday night's nationally televised league match against the Chicago Fire.


Chivas have quietly marched on in this tournament, taking care of the Ventura County Fusion and Carolina RailHawks in professional, yet unspectacular fashion, leaving them as a potential dark horse MLS side and one with a golden path to the semifinals.

In their way stand the Eagles. With another win, Charlotte would have one more Open Cup win than it does in USL Pro play this season. The club deserves credit for getting by FC Dallas and the San Antonio Scorpions, but heading cross country to Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif., is no easy proposition.

"It is kind of strange that we can't win in the league, but we're going through the Open Cup," Charlotte coach Mark Steffens told U.S. Soccer's official website. "This is a hardworking group. We have veterans who have been around for a while and we’ve got some talented young kids. We’ve got a good mixture and a great dynamic. There is a unity on this squad and the guys genuinely like each other. I think that goes a long way."


The Sounders, winless in seven MLS games, enter the match just having played an intense rivalry match in Portland on Sunday, meaning that Sigi Schmid will likely have to get creative when putting together his lineup.

San Jose, meanwhile, enters with loads of confidence. Coming off a Rocky Mountain road sweep of the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake, the Earthquakes sit atop the Western Conference standings. Frank Yallop will have to be mindful of his lineup selection as well, with a massive rivalry game against the Los Angeles Galaxy looming on Saturday night, but the Earthquakes have proven to be one of the deeper teams in all of MLS.

The odds would appear to be against the Sounders in this tournament for the first time in about three years. Considering the current forms of both teams, the fact that this match will be hosted by San Jose and compound that with the little rest the Sounders will have had, Tuesday night could very well mark the end of a tremendous Open Cup reign. The tournament means plenty to Seattle though, and it would be unwise to count out the champions before the final whistle is blown at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

"This is probably our most difficult challenge, having to come back and play on just one day’s rest against a team that has two days of rest," Schmid told "It is what it is. It’s a challenge we have to accept, and we have to rise up to it."

U.S. OPEN CUP SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS (games either July 10 or 11)

Sporting Kansas City/Dayton Dutch Lions at Philadelphia Union


Harrisburg City Islanders at Sporting Kansas City


Dayton Dutch Lions at Harrisburg City Islanders 


Chivas USA/Charlotte Eagles at Seattle Sounders or San Jose Earthquakes


Which teams do you think will win tonight's matches? Is this the night that Seattle's Open Cup run comes to an end? Do you see any of the USL Pro teams continuing on to the semifinals?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Joosetiger,
    I can’t make it tonight. Looking forward to my SF brothers making some noise and supporting *our* team. Let’s see SF represent!

  2. No predictions, but expect a loud crowd for that Chivas USA – Charlotte match.

    We are fielding a very solid line up.

    C’mon you Goats!

  3. I feel ya: Ya gotta get some breaks with both of my predictions. More so with the Charlotte-Chivas USA match.

    I can envision Harrisburg beating the Union 2-0.

    One thing is pretty clear. If Philly drops this match, things will have gone from “bad” to “worse” riverside…

  4. Dave,

    Believe it or not, there are a lot of Quakes fans here in SF. Just be thankful that the front office made the mistake years ago by not pursuing a permanent home in San Francisco, which would have made a little more sense, in my biased and surely slanted opinion. In other words, throw us a bone, we like to have some live soccer matches here too. Plenty of soccer fans in this city, now just need to make them MLS fans. This is a step in the right direction. Kezar would be the PERFECT MLS venue, all can agree!

  5. I’d love for Charlotte to upset Chivas. But I was able to see the Chivas-Carolina Railhawks match, and Chivas was impressive. Took the match seriously (unlike the LA Galaxy, who clearly seemed to think that they could waltz into NC and come away with an easy win). Charlotte will need some big breaks to beat them at home.

  6. I’m throwing it out there: Harrisburg and Charlotte.

    I really like Harrisburg’s chances to take down their “big brother”. The two clubs have a working relationship, they know each other well. Harrisburg is very organized and has guys on their roster who know what it’s like to take down an MLS clun in USOC play.

    I also like Charlotte’s chances. Keep an eye on Maurcio Salles. He’s been knocking on the door. He has moments of brilliance and it seems like he is about due for one. This is going to be his best chance to get the look from MLS that has eluded him.

    Don’t bet your mortgage on those two but if you got a little disposable income to wager (where legal, of course), you might be able to get some extra funds to put towards your outrageous cable bill now that the sign up special has expried (come on yall–I know I’m can’t be the only one)…

  7. “…the fact that this match will be hosted by San Jose…”

    Every time the San Jose front office hosts these matches outside San Jose, I feel like the atmosphere is neutral and gives away our advantage. Whether it was those *awful* games in Oakland (1 hour away) or now in San Francisco (1 hour away), I wish we’d stop giving away (what little) home field advantage we have at Buck Shaw. The only decent away site in my opinion was Stanford, Palo Alto (30 minutes away) where we play LA on Sat. 2 “home” games in a row away from home – thanks, front office! It’s like telling New York fans that they have a home game in Stamford, CT or telling DC fans to go to Baltimore for their home game.
    Yes, Buck Shaw is small and not ideal and being replaced. But it’s home – we should play there!

  8. I don’t know which team I loath more, Seattle or San Jose. Doesn’t matter, really. SKC will be accepting their second USOC trophy this year.

  9. Quakes have finally admitted that this tournament matters, since it always has to the fans. I expect a whole new MF with baca, Moreno, Cronin, and salinas starting. That is some impressive depth. Will be interesting to see if Gordon starts, since he sure as hell deserves it, but he’s the Galaxy killer and needed on Saturday.

  10. Se4ttle Sounders !

    They are 1 game away from their 6th straight time in the semi-finals.

    Go ahead and give me your ” no one else cares”, I don’t believe it….

    6 straight semis would be very impressive.

  11. A Union/SKC rematch could be interesting to see and is a likely matchup. Chivas should win as well. SJ/Seattle is a tough one to call though I am pulling for the Quakes simply because Seattle has already had a hell of a run at the USOC and it is time for another club to win it. Ideally I would like to see the two USL teams besides HCI advance but I doubt that will happen.


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