The 3rd round Cup draw took place after the 1st round matches on May 10th. Then a coin flip on Friday May 12th decided which potential winners would host. With no new teams entering the tournament in the 3rd round, the draw only pitted potential round 2 winners against each other. The winners of all 13 3rd round match ups will be guaranteed an MLS side in the 4th round.
Here are my most intriguing round 3 match ups after the completion of Round 2 on Wednesday, May 17th.
Reading United vs. Harrisburg City Islanders
The top match up in the 3rd round is a match of 2 clubs that are no stranger to each other. This Pennsylvania Derby between Reading United and Harrisburg City Islanders has become a biannual meeting between the 2 clubs. They have met each other in every odd year going back to 2009. This will be their 5th official meeting in the Open Cup with the pro side, Harrisburg, holding the 3-1 series lead. Reading pulled the upset in 2013, beating the Islanders 1-0 at home.
Reading United was able to reach the 3rd round of the Cup by knocking off the defending NASL Champions, the historic New York Cosmos, in what was one of the Club’s biggest ever victories to date. This is Reading’s 11th appearance in the Open Cup, and their very impressive 9th straight appearance. They have reached the 3rd round of the Cup on 2 previous occasions. A win against the Islanders would send them into the 4th round to face an MLS side for their first time in this competition.
The Harrisburg City Islanders are arguably one of the most successful non-MLS sides in the Open Cup over the past 10 years. They have reached the quarter finals an impressive four times in their history, doing so in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012. The Islanders are no strangers to the upset either. In each of those quarterfinal seasons, they upset an MLS side to get there, including taking down two MLS sides in 2012. They have defeated the New York Redbulls twice, the New England Revolution twice, and DC United. A win over Reading United would give them another opportunity to knock off an MLS club.
North Carolina FC vs. Charlotte Independence
My second pick is the USL vs. NASL North Carolina Derby. This is the 3rd straight year that the Charlotte Independence will face off against North Carolina FC, formerly the Carolina Railhawks. The pair has split the meeting thus far with each side winning one in the last two years in the Open Cup matches against each other. In 2015, the Independence took the inaugural meeting with a 1-0 road victory at WakeMed Soccer Park. North Carolina returned the favor in 2016. The match would go to extra time before the former Railhawks would put on a beating, scoring 5 goals in the extra 30 minutes to win it 5-0. If North Carolina advances, they are the team to keep an eye on as they reached the 2013 and 2014 US Open Cup quarterfinals by upsetting both the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA of the MLS in two consecutive years.
Chicago FC United vs. Christos FC
My 3rd and final pick is the only match up between two amateur sides in the 3rd round of the Cup. Both Chicago United and Christos FC pulled off upsets against USL sides in the 3rd round. Chicago United knocked off the Pittsburg Riverhounds 3-1, while Christos FC topped the Richmond Kickers 1-0. What makes this match all the more special is the winner gets the ticket to face an MLS side, and all of us underdog lovers get a guaranteed amateur club vs. MLS club in the 4th round. Christos FC is no stranger to Cup runs, just not US Open Cup runs. They have been a force in all of the Maryland State soccer cups having won the Maryland Open Amateur Cup and over 30 other cups in the same year on multiple occasions. They are 1 of 3 remaining local qualifiers as we head to round 3.
Other match ups of note:
Rochester vs. GPS Omens
The local qualifier, GPS Omens, get a trip to the only former Open Cup champions playing in round 3.
Miami FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
This Florida Derby match will be played once again in 2017, but in the Cup this time, after Tampa Bay switched leagues from the NASL to the USL.