Friday, June 20, 2008

Second Round Preview

One gripe, on a long list of many, about the US Open Cup is that the second round was announced weeks ago, and the third round is already announced. Honestly, is US Soccer so busy with the MNT in Barbados (yeah, right), the USWNT in the Peace Cup (what?), and the WNT U-20's also in World Cup Qualifying (sheesh), that they couldn't stage a lottery or drawing immediately after last week's action?

Knowing one's opponents weeks in advance takes all the drama, allure, and mystery from Cup competitions. Would the FA Cup this past year have been less impressive if Barnsley knew they had to play Chelsea after Liverpool? Yes, because being paired with the Blues immediately after dispatching the Reds was a cruel fate. But the Tykes overcame it in historic fashion.

And what made their run even more special, and dramatic considering they lost, was that they were then paired with fellow CCC side Cardiff City in the semifinal. Yet the Third Round of this competition pits every Second Round victor against an MLS team, which isn't surprising because the MLS always needs to prove its superiority and relevancy. How boring and disheartening is it for a USL-2 side that knows an upset over a USL-1 team is only going to be followed with a trip to say, DC United? Or that we all know its going to be an all MLS Quarter-, Semi- and Final?

Nonetheless, here's how the second round pairings pan out:

Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Crystal Palace Baltimore
Skyline Sports Complex, Harrisburg, PA - 7:05 PM

Western Mass Pioneers vs. Richmond Kickers
Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow, MA - 7:30 PM

Charleston Battery vs. Charlotte Eagles
Blackbaud Stadium, Charleston, SC - 7:30 PM

Carolina RailHawks vs. Real Maryland Monarchs
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, NC - 7:30 PM

Rochester Rhinos vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
PAETEC Park, Rochester, NY - 7:30 PM

Miami FC vs. Atlanta Silverbacks
Tropical Park, Miami, FL - 8:00 PM

Minnesota Thunder vs. Cleveland City Stars
National Sports Center, Blaine, MN - 8:05 PM

Seattle Sounders vs. Hollywood United
Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, WA - 11:00 PM

Keep an eye out for the Seattle/Hollywood match, as a Seattle victory would add fuel to the (sadly) ending rivalry between Portland and Seattle. Also, five of the eight pairings are between USL-1 and USL-2 teams, so perhaps there will be some upsets this round. And I really want to complain that Crystal Palace USA isn't going to have a home game this entire Cup -- looks like I may have to go to Harrisburg to cover them. Yuck.