July 1, 2009

U.S. Open Cup tonight in Portland

I am currently on my way down to Portland, Oregon for the U.S. Open Cup third round game between the Seattle Sounders F.C. and the Portland Timbers. The winner will advance to meet the winner of the MLS Kansas City Wizards and the USL-1 Minnesota Thunder. View the full bracket here. But first, what is the U.S. Open Cup?

In a nutshell, the U.S. Open Cup is very similar to domestic cup competitions popular throughout Europe, South America and the rest of the world. Cup competitions, which usually run concurrent
with a country's league season, are open in the early stages to any club that can qualify, giving local amateru teams a chance to compete against the best teams a country has to offer.

View more about the cup history here.

And thanks to USOpenCup.com, here is a preview of tonights match-up. SCARVES UP!!!

Sounders F.C. (MLS) at Portland Timbers (USL-1)
PGE Park
- Portland, OR | 7 p.m. PST

In 1987, Seattle’s Mitre Eagles were involved in one of the three U.S. Open Cup Finals to end in a scoreless draw, a game they lost on penalty kicks to Club Espana of Washington D.C.. Baltimore S.C. and Chicago’s Sparta played to a scoreless draw in the first leg of the 1940 Final, and eventually shared the title after a 2-2 draw in the second leg (no PK tiebreakers back then). The other was in 1997 when the Dallas Burn used PKs to topple D.C. United for their only Open Cup title.

While the MLS Sounders are a different animal than the team that was featured as the Timbers main rival in the USL First Division, this quite possibly is the most anticipated meeting between the two cities on the soccer pitch. Portland has faced the USL-1 Sounders twice in Open Cup play. In 2005, Portland came out on top 2-0, and Seattle returned the favor in 2007 with a 2-1 win.

Sebastien Le Toux (M) – Le Toux is the link to the Open Cup success enjoyed by the USL-1 version of the Sounders. The French native played for two seasons with the USL-1 Sounders, and was the first player signed by the MLS Sounders. He ranks third in the Professional Era (1995-2009) in Open Cup goals scored with 10, and was involved in all four of the Sounders goals (2 goals, 2 assists) in their 4-1 MLS play-in win over Real Salt Lake on April 28
Fredy Montero (F) – On loan from Colombian club Depotivo Cali, Montero has become the center of the Sounders attack, scoring eight goals and assisting on six others after only 14 games.
Steve Zakuani (M) – The rookie has made an immediate impact for the Sounders, recording two goals and three assists so far. Was a runner-up for the Hermann Trophy in his sophomore year at the University of Akron.

Brian Farber (M) – After spending time with in the MLS reserve league with Houston and San Jose, Farber played with the Minnesota Thunder in 2007, appearing in all 28 games with 7 goals and 3 assists. He spent 2008 with the Stockton Cougars of the Professional Arena Soccer League.
Cameron Knowles (D) – Knowles has spent the last three seasons with Portland, after spending 2005 & 2006 with Real Salt Lake. In his debut season with Portland, he was named one of the three finalists for the USL-1 Defender of the Year award (won by David Hayes of Atlanta)
Keita Mandjou (F) – The native of Guinea began his career in 2004 with Perak FA of the Malaysian league, and won the league scoring title in 2006. In 2008 he moved to Brunei DPMM F.C. of Singapore’s S-League, and was also the captain of the Guinea Under-23 squad.

Overall: 5-5-0, 16 GF 14 GA
vs. MLS: 0-2-0 0 GF 5 GA
Portland has struggled in Open Cup play, winning only three times in eight Open Cup matches prior to 2009, as well as becoming the second USL-1 side to lose to a USASA club (Hollywood United in 2008)

Overall: 0-0-0 0 GF 0 GA
vs. USL-1: 0-0-0 0 GF 0 GA
The USL-1 version of the Sounders made a name for themselves by knocking off MLS clubs in recent Open Cup tournaments. In 2006 & 2007, the Sounders were 4-1 against MLS teams. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the MLS Sounders will try to avoid a repeat of 1995, 1997 and 2006, the only years the USL-1 Sounders fell to lower division opponents in cup play.

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