MLS Teams contest US Open Cup Semi Finals
As expected it is the MLS sides that dominate the final stages of the US Open Cup . The Semi Final lineup is DC United @ Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers @ Real Salt Lake. The ties take place on August 7 and the winner of the Portland vs Real Salt Lake match-up will host the Final.
If Portland wins it will be played on September 24 at JELD-WEN Field. If Real Salt Lake are successful the championship will be played on October 1 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Neither team have ever advanced to an Open Cup Final so this years event will be contested at a brand new venue.
The MLS teams join the competition in the last 32. DC United were drawn away to Richmond Kickers (USL PRO) and had to survive a scare as they were taken all the way to penalties before winning the lottery 4-2. Chicago Fire were also on the road as they met the Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) but had little trouble disposing of them 2-0. Portland had a home tie against Wilmington Hammerheads (USL PRO) which proved no problem at all as they advanced with a 5-1 success. Real Salt Lake were also given home advantage against Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) but were pushed all the way before prevailing 3-2 after extra time.
Twelve of the last sixteen teams were from MLS and DC United and Chicago Fire both drew league opponents. The one positive the two had though was at least they had home advantage. DC were paired with the Philadelphia Union and won 3-1, whilst the Fire faced the Columbus Crew, who had won the competition in 2002 and being runners-up in 1998 and 2010. In a tight contest the hosts advanced with a 2-1 victory.
The draw was also kind to the Timbers and RSL as well. Both received home ties with two of the non MLS representatives still in the cup. Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) traveled to Portland and give a good account of themselves as they lost only 2-0. Charleston Battery (USL PRO) where the visitors to RSL and proved more than a match as they took the home side to extra time before bowing out 5-2.
Just two non MLS teams made it through to the Quarter Finals and they were both drawn away. Orlando City SC (USL PRO) who were on a high after defeating the defending champions Sporting Kansas City 1-0 in the round earlier made the trip to Chicago. The Fire were defiantly in no mood to have a upset caused against them as they cruised to a 5-1 win.
The other team who plied their trade outside of MLS was the Carolina RailHawks (NASL), who visited Real Salt Lake. They could not however repeat their giant killing act of the previous round when they had eliminated Chivas USA 3-1 after extra time and they excited the competition after a 3-0 reversal.
So that now leaves just four teams to battle it out to be this years champion. If DC wins it will be their third title after success in 1996 and 2008, coincidentally they have gone on to be the runners-up the year after both times as well. Chicago are the most successful MLS team in the Open Cup lifting it on four occasions 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006. They have also being losing finalist in 2004 and 2011.