As always, Josh has the previews here.
You're not excited? These are the matchups:
New England v. Harrisburg
DC United v. Ocean City Barons (Josh will be broadcasting this game, too - 7:30 ET, 4:30 my time, USLLive.com)
Wilmington Hammerheads v. Chicago
Charleston v. Chivas USA
Rochester v. Columbus
Minnesota v. Kansas City
Austin v. Houston
and, last but not least,
Portland v. Seattle.
STILL not interested?
Any of these can end up in upsets, especially considering the vagaries of MLS motivational fortitude in this round. Six out of the eight USL teams in this round have had a great deal of success in the Cup over the years - and the other two are facing their neighbors.
The Thunder over KC would be your longest shot, because our beloved Minnesota Thunder have been freaking godawful this year. Home field advantage might help Cloud City, but then again, it hasn't helped them so far in league play, has it?
I'm not seeing Chivas USA getting the upset over Charleston, either. Don't give me that look. CUSA, as usual, is racked with injuries, they're on the road, I'm pretty sure Bornstein and Kljestan aren't going to play, the C-Bats are exactly the team you didn't want to draw in this round, and CUSA have only won in this tournament once, ever. With the lineup I'm expecting Preki to start tonight, a Chivas USA win would be a notable victory.
This also looks like it might be a bear trap for the Fire, who are usually above such things as Open Cup upsets. But their MLS form has been lousy, and they've had to waste time screwing around in the Superliga to boot. On the road, out of form, gassed...but while Wilmington isn't terrible, not exactly, they're still a couple of divisions down. This looks like an ugly Fire aet win to me - maybe even after PKs.
I got no feel whatsover for the New England-Harrisburg game. But I got no feel for the Revs this year, really. They're a pretty schizophrenic .500 in MLS this year, and when they lose, it's ugly. And Harrisburg is leading their league - USL2, but hey, it's a league. If this were in Pennsylvania, I'd probably pick the Islanders. I'll be all safe and boring and predict New England, but my heart's not in it. Another ugly, close MLS win.
I'm as romantic as the next guy, but DC is going to handle Ocean City. Yeah, DC just got finished looking bad in Colorado. They always look bad in Colorado. And yeah, DC makes a few appearances on your annual list of US Open Cup embarrassments, but not this year. (Now watch DC make me look very stupid.)
Ten years ago this tournament, the Rochester Rhinos (Ragin', at the time), hornswaggled the Crew out of what was going to be a coronation US Open Cup final in then-brand new Columbus Crew Stadium. Columbus didn't really recover until last year. They owe Rochester a punch in the mouth. A month ago the Crew were playing badly enough to make this interesting, but I don't think the Rhinos right now are an insurable risk.
Those games are tonight - the rivalry games are tomorrow.
Even knowing the bugglefuggery Houston can get up to in the Open Cup, I would have thought them more than capable of handling the shiny new Aztex. Then I saw the Dynamo play the Galaxy over the weekend. Holy crap! What the hell was that? They might take out their frustrations on Austin...or, they might have revealed to the world they're about 1/8 as good as we all thought. The Dynamo have to win this one, right?
...and then there's the PNW Pillow Fight. For those of us MLS fans on Olympus, gorged on nectar and ambrosia, we may occasionally confuse USL rivalries with the struggles of red ants versus black. Consider tomorrow night a chance to become enlightened. There's some serious-ass hatred between these teams, and we'll get a little taste of what we're in for in 2011 when the Tims join MLS. I think both teams would trade losing all their remaining games for a chance to get over on the Enemy tomorrow night. Maybe Freddie Ljungberg and Kasey Keller THINK they know intensity, but...okay, they probably do. It'll still be awesome. I ain't picking no winner here, are you crazy? I'm just going to enjoy the show.