The Philadelphia Union's first ever U.S. Open Cup home game will feature the only team outside of Major League Soccer that has won the tournament since MLS began in 1996.
Philadelphia will host the Rochester Rhinos, who lifted the cup in in 1999, in a third-round matchup. The game will take place at PPL Park on Tuesday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m.
The Rhinos beat the Brooklyn Italians, 3-0, in the second round of the toruament at Sahlen Stadium in Rochester.
(You may recall that Sahlen Stadium is where the Independence lost last year's Women's Professional Soccer championship game to the Western New York Flash.)
Elsewhere in Tuesday's second-round Cup action, the Harrisburg City Islanders beat the Long Island Rough Riders, 2-0, and Reading United gave up a 1-0 lead in a 2-1 loss at the Charleston Battery.
Here are summaries for all three games involving or relating to the local teams. Listed in parentheses after each team name is the league in which they play.
at Charleston Battery (USL PRO) 2, Reading United (PDL) 1
64' 1-0 Reading: Olutolani Ibikunle goal (Wynnewood, Pa./Wake Forest/St. Joe's Prep), Steve Neumann assist (New Hope, Pa./Georgetown/Council Rock North)
69' 1-1 Charleston: Dane Kelly goal, Navion Boyd assist
79' 2-1 Charleston: Nicki Patterson free kick, unassisted.
Former Union reserve Ryan Richter started for Charleston. Nicki Patterson, scorer of the winning goal, has 17 caps for Jamaica's national team.
Charleston's roster also includes former Temple University standout and Glenside, Pa., native Tony Donatelli, but he did not play.
The Battery will host the New York Red Bulls in the third round.
at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) 2, Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) 0
47' 1-0 Harrisburg: Yann Ekra goal, Morgan Langley assist
76' 2-0 Harrisburg: Brian Ombiji goal, Andrew Welker assist (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Seton Hall/Cumberland Valley H.S.)
Yes, that Morgan Langley is the same player who was on the Union's roster last year.
There are video highlights of the game at the bottom of this post. There's also a clip of some antics from the City Islanders' suitably-named (and suitably loud, if small) supporters club, the Sons of the Susquehanna.
(Just a thought, though: since they're a minor-league affiliaie of the Union, couldn't someone get them some better goal celebration music?)
Harrisburg will host the New England Revolution (MLS) on Tuesday, May 29 at the Skyline Sports Complex.
at Rochester Rhinos 3, Brooklyn Italians 0
25' 1-0 Rochester: Thomas McManus goal, Troy Roberts assist
43' 2-0 Rochester: Connor Chinn goal, Troy Roberts assist
76' 3-0 Rochester: J.C. Banks goal, Graciano Brito and Masaki Hemmi assists.
A complete list of second round results and third round matchups can be found at TheCup.us. The draw for the fourth round is expected to take place Wednesday.
There are a few items from Tuesday night's action I'd like to highlight.
First, there were three upsets by division of the hierarchy.
The upset closest to us geographically took place in Bridgeville, Pa., outside Pittsburgh The USL PRO's Pittsburgh Riverhounds were upset at home, 1-0, by the PDL's Michigan Bucks thanks to a 90th-minute penalty kick.
The biggest upset happened in Wilmington, N.C. Cal FC - a fifth-tier, U.S. Adult Soccer Association team based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. - traveled all the way across the country and blew out the USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads, 4-0. Adding to the intrigue, Cal FC is coached by former U.S. national team star and current Fox Soccer Channel analyst Eric Wynalda.
Finally, out in Fullerton, Calif., the PDL's Ventura County Fusion took down the USL PRO's Los Angeles Blues, 3-1 in extra time.
Now for the other big news item. Two MLS clubs bought hosting rights to third round games from second-division NASL clubs who were originally scheduled to host. The Seattle Sounders will now host the Atlanta Silverbacks, and Real Salt Lake will now host the Minnesota Stars.
When this year's draw and bid hosting rules were originally unveiled, the idea was to stop MLS teams from buying out lower-division teams' home games. This was meant to make the tournament more fair, and capture some of the emotions that cup soccer generates by making big teams play on the road.
In both of these cases, there are mitigating circumstances. Atlanta has a league game in Edmonton four days after the Cup game in Seattle, so they can make one big road trip. Real Salt Lake's director of media relations has repeatedly tweeted about the high cost of round-trip travel from Salt Lake City to Minneapolis on short notice.
Most importantly, the bidding rules do allow teams to reach their own agreements about hosting games after the draw is conducted.
I hope that at some point the rules will be tightened up. It would also help teams reduce travel costs if rounds of the tournament were spaced two weeks apart instead of one.
On the whole, though, the idealist in me would like to see MLS teams honor the principle of a fairly-contested cup competition.