Only one MLS club will be on the road in the first night of third round matches in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Here’s a look ahead to Tuesday night’s match-ups.
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-2) vs. New York Red Bulls (MLS)
7 p.m. ET – Skyline Sports Complex – Harrisburg, PA
To follow the match: www.redbullsreader.com (minute-by-minute)
Tonight will mark the first-ever meeting between the two sides. Hans Backe has fielded a young and explosive “Baby Bulls” side in Open Cup play-in matches this year, with the likes of Conor Chinn and Irving Garcia starring for NYRB. Jeremy Hall will start in central midfield while Brian Nielsen is also expected back and could start alongside Hall. New Zealand World Cup defender Andrew Boyens has returned from South Africa and will likely feature on the back line.
Harrisburg’s 25-year-old goalkeeper Danny Cepero led the Red Bulls to the 2008 MLS Cup final and became the first goalkeeper to score a goal in MLS in his magical stretch run that season.
About the Islanders: With one victory in 11 matches on the league season, Harrisburg find themselves in last place in the third-tier USL-2. Sheanon Williams is a highly regarded youth national team product who played in two youth World Cups. JT Noone spent the preseason with the Union.
Columbus Crew (MLS) vs. Rochester Rhinos (USSF D2)
7:30 p.m. ET – Columbus Crew Stadium – Columbus, OH
Follow the match: WROC-AM (950)
There is a rivalry brewing between the Crew and Rhinos. Tonight’s match will represent the fourth all-time meeting in the Open Cup. Rochester ousted the Crew on penalty kicks last year and also prevailed in the 1999 semifinals. The Crew advanced in overtime in a 1998 second-round tie.
Although back-up goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum is expected to be in the nets, Crew manager Robert Warzycha says he will field more regulars in the match compared with the eight reserves he started in last year’s meeting. Defenders Frankie Hejduk, Danny O’Rourke, Gino Padula and Chad Marshall will likely all be unavailable for the Eastern Conference leaders. Frenchman Leandre Griffit could make his debut, while rookie Dilly Duka could see action after going public about his lack of playing time last week.
About the Rhinos: The Rhinos will make their return to the stadium where they captured the 1999 US Open Cup title against the Colorado Rapids. Rochester are unbeaten in their last seven matches and hold the second-best record in the USSF Second Division. Crew assistant Ricardo Iribarren scouted the Rhinos in their last league match. The club features several players who were drafted but not signed by MLS clubs and two players who enjoyed long stints in MLS: Troy Roberts (ex-Los Angeles) and Aaron Pitchkolan (ex-FC Dallas and San Jose Earthquakes).
Chicago Fire (MLS) vs. Charleston Battery (USL-2)
8:30 p.m. ET – Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL
Follow the match: www.charlestonbattery.com (audio)
A few reserves are likely to see action for Chicago, especially with the absences of Justin Mapp (quad), Baggio Husidic (ankle) and Collins John (illness). It could prove an opportunity for highly touted rookie midfielder Corben Bone, rookie defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe and goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
The Fire have history on their side, going a perfect 15-0-0 in U.S. Open Cup matches played in Illinois. USL-2 side Charleston Battery, who were a USOC finalist in 2008, were Chicago’s opponent in the USOC semis in 2004 with the Fire advancing on a single goal in extra time.
About the Battery: Stephen Armstrong had a five-year MLS career with KC and DC. Kevin Jackson was drafted by Chicago way back in the 2000 SuperDraft. Lamar Neagle is the Battery’s top scorer and was formerly with the Seattle Sounders in 2009.
Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS) vs. AC St. Louis (USSF D2)
10:30 p.m. ET – The Home Depot Center – Carson, CA
Follow the match: www.lagalaxy.com (match commentary)
It’s a match-up of the best in MLS against the worst of the USSF D2 as the Galaxy host AC St. Louis at The Home Depot Center. Galaxy manager Bruce Arena, whose club last won the competition in 2005, has said he will use the match to try a new formation and to get the team used to playing three matches a week. The Galaxy are involved in the CONCACAF Champions League, which will result in a congested fixture schedule over the coming months.
About AC St. Louis: It’s been a tumultuous first year for AC St. Louis, who started with high aspirations but are barely surviving due to financial difficulties. They released MLS iron man Steve Ralston, who since made his return to the Revs. Despite their last place position, St. Louis are undefeated in their last four games, posting four-straight shutouts.
AC St. Louis coach Dale Schilly debuted at the helm of the team over the weekend as he replaced Claude Anelka, brother of controversial French forward Nicolas Anelka. The club’s most recognizable former MLS player is Luke Kreamalmeyer, who was drafted by Real Salt Lake in the team’s expansion season.
Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. Miami FC (USSF D2)
8:30 p.m. ET – Robertson Stadium – Houston, TX
The Dynamo, 2009 USOC semifinalists, played a league match on Saturday and are back in MLS action against Toronto FC on Thursday. Tonight’s US Open Cup match will be the first ever meeting against Miami FC and will prove another opportunity for the reserve players on the team, including teenager Francisco Navas Cobos, Ghanaian Sammy Appiah and goalkeeper Tally Hall.
About Miami FC: The team features several former MLS players, including former MLS MVP Christian Gomez, 2002 MLS No. 1 SuperDraft selection Chris Gbandi and former Dynamo and FC Dallas forward Abe Thompson.
Chivas USA (MLS) vs. Austin Aztex (USSF D2)
10:30 p.m. ET – Titan Stadium at California State-Fullerton – Fullerton, CA
A match-up between the last-place team in MLS against the first-place team in the USSF D2. Chivas USA have lost six straight but will be bolstered by the return of Paolo Nagamura and Jonathan Bornstein. Salvadoran Osael Romero hit the back of the net over the weekend against FC Dallas, which may prove promising for the Goats.
About the Aztex: Former Manchester United player Eddie Johnson is Austin’s top scorer with eight goals this season. The Aztex sit atop the USSF D2 with 30 points and have lost just one of their last 13 matches. Familiar names for MLS fans are on-loan forward Peri Marosevic (FC Dallas), Lance Watson (ex-Kansas City Wizards) and Leonard Griffin (ex-Chicago and Los Angeles Galaxy).