2008 US Open Cup - The best night in US club soccer is here
These first round matches are always fun to watch as they are usually full of surprise winners, especially if the higher division team is the visitor. If you live near any of these games, they are well worth going to see.
Here is a rundown of tonight's games (updated scores):
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-2) vs. Yakima Reds (USL-PDL)
Skyline Sports Complex, Harrisburg, Pa. - 7pm ET
With the Reds traveling to Pennsylvania from Washington state, this one will probably go to the Islanders.
Charlotte Eagles (USL-2) vs. Clearwater Galactics (USASA)
Charlotte Chrisitian School, Charlotte, N.C. - 7pm ET
Much like the Reds, a long trip from Florida will probably hurt the Galactics chances, however this has a slight smell of upset on it.
Minnesota Thunder (USL-1) vs. St. Louis Lions (USL-PDL)
National Sports Center, Blaine, Minn. - 7pm ET
St. Louis's hopes hinge on Tommy Heinemann and Jarius Holmes. If these two can link up early, the Thunder might not rumble.
Western Mass Pioneers (USL-2) vs. Boston Olympiakos (USASA)
Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow, Mass. - 7:30p ET
This should be one of the better matches of the night. Boston Olympiakos is a very solid amateur club playing against in-state Western Mass. The Pioneers have been good in league play and will turn to Neil Krause to get them past Olympiakos, but the amateurs are going to bring a lot.
Michigan Bucks (USL-PDL) vs. Cleveland City Stars (USL-2)
Ultimate Soccer Arena, Pontiac, Mich. - 7:30p ET
Both these teams are playing some of the best soccer in their respective leagues. The Stars made it into the second round last year, but the Bucks have a long history in the cup. Since the Stars are on the road, the Bucks have the upper hand.
Rochester Rhinos (USL-1) vs. RWB Adria (USASA)
PAETEC Park, Rochester, NY - 7:30p ET (free video)
As odd as it sounds, this might just be the make or break game to the Rhinos season as they are off to a horrible start in league play. If Adria can exploit their nerves, they might sneak out with a victory.
Charleston Battery (USL-1) vs. ASC New Stars (USASA)
Blackbaud Stadium, Charleston, SC - 7:30p ET (free video)
The New Stars will travel from Houston for this one and they will have their hands full. The Battery have a good season going and love to play in the Open Cup.
Carolina Railhawks (USL-1) vs. Brooklyn Knights (USL-PDL)
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, N.C. - 7:30p ET
The Railhawks have some weakness and since you never count out an amateur team from New York, there could be something here. The Knights don't get tons of goals, but they also don't give up many.
Real Maryland Monarchs (USL-2) vs. NY Pancyprian Freedoms (USASA)
Maryland SoccerPlex, Germantown, Md. - 8p ET
The Monarchs have not been making it happen in league play and, as noted above, you don't ever count out amateur teams from New York, this could be close.
Miami FC Blues (USL-1) vs. Bradenton Academics (USL-PDL)
Tropical Park Stadium, Miami, Fla. - 8p ET
The Blues have never really jelled. If the Academics can shutdown Alex Afonso, they have a shot.
Richmond Kickers (USL-2) vs. Fredericksburg Gunners (USL-PDL)
SportsBackers Stadium, Richmond, Va. - 8p ET
The Kickers will need to find the net to win this one and they have not proven so great at doing so.
Austin Aztex (USL-PDL) vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (USL-1)
Dragon Stadium, Round Rock, Texas - 8:30p ET
This will probably be the best game of the night as the soon to be USL-1 Austin Aztex see if they can expand their winning ways against the 'no so great on the road' Silverbacks.
AAC Eagles (USASA) vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL-2)
Redmond Park, Bensenville, Ill. - 9p ET
Both of these sides normally lose their opening USOC match, so it is good to know one will advance. With the Riverhounds playing for poor, look for an Eagles victory.
Portland Timbers (USL-1) vs. Hollywood United (USASA)
PGE Park, Portland, Ore. - 10p ET (free video)
Finally a west coast game. Will Alexi Lalas and Allan Hopkins take the pitch for United? If so, they have a chance. If not, the Timbers will probably see them out.
LA Legends (USL-PDL) vs. Crystal Palace Baltimore (USL-2)
Cougar Athletic Stadium, Glendora, Cal. - 10:30p ET
There is not much in terms of offense going for LA, but they have some solid keepers and with Baltimore making the long trip, the Legends have the upper hand.
Arizona Sahuaros (USASA) vs. Seattle Sounders (USL-1)
Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, Ariz. - 10:30p ET
The Sounders will be looking for a repeat of last year when they topped USASA side Banat Arsenal to start their fantastic run to the semifinals. The Sahuaros are a great example of what lowest level clubs can become, but they will need to play well above their level to take this one.
Chicago Fire (MLS) vs. Columbus Crew (MLS)
Shea Stadium, Peoria, Ill. - 8p ET
This is a MLS play in match. My guess is the Crew will take it a little more serious then the Fire. With Columbus thrashing in MLS play, they need something to restart the team and a victory against Chicago could do it. That said, the Fire are one of the best USOC teams ever, so even if they play second string, they are the favorites.