The most storied competition in American soccer marches on with some regional midweek matchups set. Founded in 1914, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was canceled in the past two seasons due to COVID complications. Atlanta United are the reigning champions despite having won in 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can retain their title. But outside of watching Atlanta United, there are plenty of storylines to watch as some teams play their first-ever Open Cup games against MLS sides and regional rivalries take hold between the divisions. Seventeen MLS sides enter the cup in this round while the remainder will join in the round of 32.
The Battle for Miami
Miami FC will host Inter Miami at Riccardo Silva Stadium at FIU, featuring $10 dollar tickets and free parking to give Inter Miami a taste of what could have been had they built a stadium in the city in time for their expansion. It’ll be quite the atmosphere as the USL Championship side will want to do everything it can to topple the “bigger” Miami side. For Phil Neville’s side, Inter Miami have been rounding into form without Gonzalo Higuain. Once he returns to health, big decisions will need to be made for the continuity of the team. Miami FC coach Anthony Pulis will also have some familiarity with Neville being the son of Tony Pulis.
Donovan takes on Galaxy
Landon Donovan and the San Diego Loyal are in the midst of their debut campaign in the Open Cup and there are few things more poetic than a legendary player taking his USL side against his former team. Donovan has led San Diego to the top spot of the Western Conference although the Colorado Spring Switchbacks — who are level on points — have two games in hand. It should be an interesting clash as Donovan and Greg Vanney clash with a trip to the fourth round of the competition on the line.
Can Atlanta defend its crown?
With injuries to Josef Martinez, Ozzie Alonso and Brad Guzan, Atlanta’s depth is being seriously tested. The Open Cup is a good time to see which players are able to step up and possibly fill some of those holes during MLS play. But they can’t overlook Chatanooga FC who look to carry the banner of the new National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) as far into the cup as they can. Atlanta United want to win every competition that they’re in, but balancing rotation will be hard right now.
Everything’s bigger in Texas
Austin FC are flying high under Josh Wolff, occupying the second spot in the Western Conference, but San Antonio will want to rain on their parade hosting the MLS side. Austin will need to be aware of Elliot Collier, who leads the line for San Antonio and has three USL goals on the season. Austin atop the West and Houston occupying a playoff position is further proof that the state of Texas is inching closer back to soccer prominence. Last season, no MLS teams from the Longhorn State made the playoffs while Rio Grande Valley FC and San Antonio carried the banner for USL. All of the teams look to be improved this season which will make for heated Open Cup matchups.
All games are available to stream on ESPN+ and all times U.S./Eastern.
Tuesday, April 19
Flower City Union vs. D.C. United, 7 p.m.
Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 7 p.m.
Miami FC vs. Inter Miami, 7 p.m.
Detroit City vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Fire vs. Union Omaha, 8:00 p.m.
Birmingham Legion vs. Tormenta, 8:00 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Rio Grande Valley, 8:30 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. FC Tulsa, 8:30 p.m.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Bay Cities, 10:30 p.m.
Tuscon vs. California United Strikers, 10:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. San Diego Loyal, 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 20
Rochester New York vs. FC Motown, 6 p.m.
Richmond Kickers vs. North Carolina Fusion U23, 6:30 p.m.
Hartford Athletic vs. New York Red Bulls, 7 p.m.
Greenville Triumph vs. Charlotte FC, 7 p.m.
Orlando City SC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies, 7 p.m.
Louisville City vs. St. Louis 2, 7:30 p.m.
Atlanta United vs. Chattanooga, 7:30 p.m.
San Antonio vs. Austin FC, 8:30 p.m.
Real Salt Lake vs. Northern Colorado, 9:30 p.m.
Phoenix Rising vs. New Mexico United, 10:30 p.m.
Sacramento Republic vs. Central Valley Fuego, 10:30 p.m.
Los Angeles FC vs. Orange County SC, 10:30 p.m.