The draw for round 4 of the US Open Cup took place on May 18th after completion of round 2 matches on May 17th. The match-ups were officially set once round 3 matches finished on May 31st. The 19 MLS clubs joined the 13 survivors from the first 3 rounds of games.
Here are the round 4 match-ups that I find most intriguing. These matches will be played on June 13th and 14th.
DC United vs. Christos FC
The top story in the 2017 Cup is Maryland-based amateur side, Christos FC. Christos is the only amateur side to reach the 4th round of the Cup. Even better than that, they came through local qualifying to even get to round 1, something that many other NPSL and PDL amateur sides don’t have to do. It wasn’t long ago that Christos was looking for $1,000, just to be able to play in the Maryland Major Soccer League. They received that money from a local liquor store, Christos Discount Liquors, and also took on the store’s name. The rest is history as they say.
Now after years of dominating the top amateur league in Maryland, and all of the amateur cups in the State, they find themselves with a trip to the local MLS side, DC United. Christos has already upset their local USL side when they beat the Richmond Kickers in round 2. Their success derives from the wealth of experience of former USL pro players on the team, including Pete Caringi, Levi Houapeu, and Mamadou Kansaye. These three are all from the Maryland area, or played college soccer in the area.
Their opponent, DC United, is one of the most experienced MLS sides when it comes to the US Open Cup. They have won the Cup on 3 separate occasions, including in their inaugural season back in 1996 when they topped the Rochester Rhinos 3-0 in the final. That night they got goals from two of the Club’s biggest legends, Eddie Pope and Jaime Moreno. The Club also won the Cup in 2008 and 2013. They fell victim to the upset in the past, but were always upset by lower level pro sides and were never upset by an amateur side. A win in the tournament this year for United would put them level with the Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire for most Cup titles by a MLS team. It would also place them one title behind historic Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles, who share the record for the most all time titles with five each.
FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC
My second pick for most intriguing match is the Ohio Derby. Since joining USL last season, FC Cincinnati has been one of the most exciting clubs to follow. They lead all of lower league soccer in attendance with an average home crowd of nearly 20,000 in 2016. With the way things are going in Cincinnati this year, this could also be the first look at a future MLS Derby, as FC Cincinnati has become one of the leading candidates to acquire MLS expansion rights.
The best part about this match-up is that it will take place at Nippert Stadium as Cincinnati gets to play host. This is the Club’s 1st official meeting with an MLS side. They were knocked out of the Cup last season in round 3 by former NASL side, Tampa Bay Rowdies. This will be their 2nd Ohio Derby of the 2017 Cup, as they have already knocked out the defending NPSL champs from Cleveland.
FC Cincinnati will face Columbus Crew SC, one of the original MLS sides, having been founded in 1996. The Columbus Crew is the most successful team in Ohio. They have won both the MLS Cup in 2008 and the US Open Cup in 2002. The Crew won the 2002 Open Cup by topping the LA Galaxy at home in Crew Stadium by a score of 1-0. The hero for the Crew on that night was Guatemalan international, Freddy Garcia, who scored the lone goal that night in the 30th minute.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. San Francisco Deltas
My final pick is a Bay Area Derby between the two biggest cities in the region. San Jose and San Francisco are the 10th and the 13th largest cities, respectively, in the US. While they make up the same metro region, they could easily each be considered their own metro area. This will be the first official meeting between the two clubs. They met in the preseason this year with the Deltas winning that match by a score of 1-0.
The San Jose Earthquakes are former MLS Cup winners in 2001 and 2003, but they have not been nearly as successful in the US Open Cup. They reached the semifinals only once in their history, which dates back to 1996. The Quakes will play host to the new NASL expansion side to their north when they welcome the San Francisco Deltas to their magnificent home field, Avaya Stadium.
The 2017 NASL expansion side, the San Francisco Deltas, enter this match undefeated in the Club’s US Open Cup history as they are currently 2-0. They knocked off local PDL power and Earthquake’s affiliate, the Burlingame Dragons, in round 2 by a score of 2-1. They then traveled to Phoenix in round 3, where they knocked off the USL side 2-1. Tommy Heinemann scored the winner in the 95th minute in round 3, and also scored the winner for the club in round 2. This match will definitely be one for the record books as both clubs come from a historically rich region in regard to the US Open Cup.
Other Notable Match-ups:
Orlando City SC vs. Miami FC
The NASL league leaders and arguably the best Division 2 side from either league will travel to MLS Florida Derby Rivals, Orlando City.
Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers
The best rivalry in all of North American Soccer will play out in round 4 of the Cup. This match would be top if it weren’t already played so often in the league.