Well it is about time for the action to kick off for the third round of the US Open Cup and with all the MLS teams being a part of the tournament this year, as well as the NASL teams (they weren't involved last year). It should make for an interesting round as the 16 Major League Soccer teams join the tournament and are matched up against teams from the lower divisions. The NASL (considered the 2nd division in the US) has 6 teams in the 3rd round, USL Pro (considered the 3rd division) has 7 teams that have made their way to the 3rd round, the PDL offers up two teams and the USASA (United States Adult Soccer Association) which offers up Cal FC which is managed by Eric Wynalda and Nick Webster.
While their has been a bit of controversy about some lower division clubs selling their hosting rights to MLS sides, the reality is that the rules allow for such changes and in some cases it can provide a real boost in finances for clubs that often average around 1,000 fans. The action is always fun in these matches as players get to match themselves up against players from the top tier of soccer in the United States and for many of the players on lower division teams it is a chance to showcase their skills. Often lower division sides have several players who have either been drafted, been on trial or played with MLS sides, in fact in the 2nd round of the US Open Cup, 6 players with ties to Real Salt Lake found the back of the net in their respective matches:
- Pablo Campos
- Conor Chinn
- Raphael Cox
- Jamie Watson
- Artur Aghasyan
- Chris Agorsor
Minnesota Stars FC (NASL) at Real Salt Lake (MLS)
Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah; 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: RealSaltLake.com (Video)
Round 4 scenarios (June 5):
If Minnesota wins ... at San Jose Earthquakes OR home vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
If Real Salt Lake wins ... at San Jose Earthquakes OR home vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Minnesota Stars' 2012 US Open Cup results (home team on right):
Rd 2: Minnesota Stars FC (NASL) 2:0 Des Moines Menace (PDL) [+] Recap
Real Salt Lake's 2012 US Open Cup results (home team on right):
First game of 2012 tournament
While the Minnesota Stars is a different franchise, when most Open Cup fans think of Minnesota and Real Salt Lake, they think back to the wild barnburner of a match between the Minnesota Thunder the RSL in the Third Round of 2005. (Note: It happened on the same night as the Charlotte Eagles/Chivas USA match we referenced above). Jason Kreis scored a hat trick but Minnesota, led by Melvin Tarley, Johnny Menyongar and Aaron Paye matched the RSL side blow-by-blow, including an 89th minute equalizer by Paye to send the match into extra time tied. With the scoreboard locked at 4-4, the Thunder scored two more in extra time to win it 6-4.
Will we see fireworks like that on Tuesday night? Real Salt Lake is certainly capable, as they currently hold the league's best record at 9-3-2 and are on a six-game unbeaten streak. The Stars are in second place in the NASL with a 4-0-4 record, but the question is do they have enough to hang with the best team in MLS on the road?
One thing the two teams do have in common is the fact that neither has history on their side. This is just the second tournament for Minnesota since the team started in 2010, but for all the success that RSL has had in league play and the CONCACAF Champions League, the Open Cup has not been their competition. They are only 2-3-0 all-time in the Open Cup, but the reason why a team which began play in 2005 has only five games under its belt is because they failed to qualify for the tournament four years in a row from 2007-2010. Both teams will be anxious to start a new chapter in the team's history.
Modern Pro Era Open Cup Records:
Minnesota Stars FC
OVERALL: 2-1-0, 1-0-0 away, 0-0-0 vs. MLS clubs
BEST FINISH: Round 2 (2010, lost 1-0 vs. AC St. Louis)
LAST ENTRY: 2010 (Round 2, lost 1-0 vs. AC St. Louis)
Real Salt Lake
OVERALL: 2-3-0, 2-1-0 at home, 1-1-0 vs. Division 2 clubs
BEST FINISH: Quarterfinals (2011, lost 2-0 at FC Dallas)
LAST ENTRY: 2011 (Quarterfinals, lost 2-0 at FC Dallas)
So now you are ready for some US Open Cup action. See you at Rio Tinto Stadium
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