Union to visit New York twice in four days

It took a while to get the fixture scheduled, but the Union finally announced today that their U.S. Open Cup match at the New York Red Bulls will be played Tuesday, April 27 at 8 p.m.

That's just three days after the Union's regular-season game at the Red Bulls (Saturday, April 24). Both games will be played at the fantastic new Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. I'll be at the first game, but work obligations will keep me in Philadelphia during the second.

New York won the right to host the match via a coin flip. It's probably a good thing, because you wonder where the Union would have hosted the fixture. Penn's Rhodes Field comes to mind because it has natural grass, but its capacity is tiny. Villanova Stadium is probably the right size and Franklin Field would e a lot of fun, but both have artificial surfaces.

The winner of the match will host the New England Revolution on Wednesday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. The Union's press release said the site is to be determined, and you can see why above.

If you haven't heard of the U.S. Open Cup before, here's a quick primer: it's the American equivalent of England's FA Cup. Every team in the country that's affiliated with the U.S. Soccer Federation, from amateur clubs to MLS teams, is eligible to participate. This year's tournament is the 97th edition.

Philadelphia teams have won the Cup five times in its history:

1936: Philadelphia German Americans FC 5, Shamrocks SC (St. Louis) 2 on aggregate (2-2, 3-0)
1960: Ukrainian Nationals 5, Los Angeles Kickers 3 (a.e.t.)
1961: Ukrainian Nationals 7, United Scots (Los Angeles) 4 on aggregate (2-2, 5-2)
1963: Ukrainian Nationals 1, 0 Armenian SC (Los Angeles) 0 (aet)
1966: Ukrainian Nationals 4, Orange County (Los Angeles 0  on aggregate (1-0, 3-0)

You can learn much more about the competition at TheCup.us, an unofficial website run by a longtime friend of mine (and Temple alum), Josh Hakala.

While you're here, I'd like your help in a project I'm working on. As you know, my alter ego writes Philly.com's college sports blog, Soft Pretzel Logic. One of the regular features on there is the Schuylkill 16 poll, in which readers rank 16 of the Philadelphia region's college basketball teams on a weekly basis.

I'd like to bring that spirit over by having a reader-based player rating poll after each Union game. If you're interested in participating, email me. I'd like to get it going after Saturday's game against D.C. United.