U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals Preview: All MLS Final Eight

IMAGE, USSOCCER.COM

by RYAN BRISTER
MLS Writer

Eight teams remain in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup, and for the first time in almost a decade, all of the quarterfinalists hail from Major League Soccer. Of the final eight, only three (Chicago, LA, and Kansas City) have won the tournament before. All four match-ups have already been played in the league this season. After a lengthy and controversial scheduling process, the sixth round is set to take place over the next nine days.

Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy, 10 p.m. on July 14

A week before all the other quarterfinals, RSL will host the Galaxy tonight. And it appears that Bruce Arena is all in on the Open Cup this year. Steven Gerrard has made the trip to Utah, and Arena has suggested that he might play. Gerrard played 45 minutes on Saturday night in a friendly against Club America.

Salt Lake has struggled in MLS this season, but they are taking this tournament seriously. RSL played a largely first-choice XI in beating Portland in the fifth round. In two games against LA this year, RSL hasn’t scored. They played to a scoreless draw at Rio Tinto in May, and the Galaxy won 1-0 later that month.

New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union, 4 p.m. on July 21

Yes, you read that right. The Red Bulls are hosting the Union at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, so as not to conflict with their Wednesday night friendly with Chelsea. Despite the farcical kick-off time, Jesse Marsch’s pledge to make the Open Cup a priority has been kept so far this year, so expect a solid XI from RBNY.

The Union needed a 10-man comeback against DC United to get this far. Eric Ayuk’s red card in that match means he won’t be eligible to play at Red Bull Arena. Philly has reasons to be confident: they won 3-0 over the weekend and 2-0 earlier this season at Red Bull Arena.

The winner of this match will host the winner of Chicago vs. Orlando.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo, 8:30 p.m. on July 21

SKC and the Dynamo built a rivalry dueling in the Eastern Conference, and it seems they intend to keep that going in the West. In April, they played a wild 4-4 draw down in Texas. The Dynamo have found their new surroundings difficult, but a strong Open Cup run could redeem Owen Coyle’s first season in charge.

Sporting Park had the loudest atmosphere of the last two rounds, and Kansas City would like it to be that way through to the semis. No team in MLS has more points per game at the moment than KC, and they shredded Dallas 6-2 in the fifth round.

The winner of this match will host the winner of Salt Lake vs. LA.

Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC, 8:30 p.m. on July 22nd

The quarterfinals wrap up with Orlando City traveling up north to Chicago for the second time this year. In June, the Lions came back late to grab a 3-2 win. Don’t be surprised if you see Kaka; he almost went the full 90 minutes when Orlando dispatched Columbus.

The Fire haven’t yet had to play MLS competition in the Open Cup. They beat Orlando’s USL affiliates from Louisville in extra time in the fourth round, and survived a scare from Charlotte in round five. No modern team has won the Open Cup more times than Chicago’s four, but it’s been nine years since they last lifted the trophy.

 

  • Eric B

    It was CJ Sapong that was red carded (about as farcical as the kickoff time), not Eric Ayuk.