US Soccer conducted the fourth round draw for the 2015 US Open Cup, revealing that D.C. United will play the winner of May 27th's game between the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL and the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies. Regardless of which team wins in Pittsburgh next Wednesday, United will be on the road. The 4th round will take place over two days - June 16th and 17th - with United playing on the 17th.
The Riverhounds are currently sitting in 7th place in the USL's Eastern Conference with a 2W-3D-3L record. They're currently tied for 3rd in goals scored on the 3rd level of the American soccer pyramid. The problem? Only four teams have given up more goals. Their roster includes ex-MLS players like wide man Danny Earls (formerly with Colorado) and center back Anthony Arena (who spent 2 seasons with the Houston Dynamo). They also feature two-time United trialist Seth C'deBaca, a Georgetown product, as well as former Maryland Terrapin Jereme Raley. Should Pittsburgh advance, United will get their first glimpse of scenic Highmark Stadium.
A step up the pyramid, the Rowdies are doing well. They're in 2nd place in the NASL, with a 3W-3D-1L record at the moment. They've gotten it done with defense: Their 8 goals scored puts them right in the middle of the league, but they're tied for the 2nd best defensive record thanks to having conceded just 6 goals in 7 games. United fans will see a familiar face on the sidelines, as Tampa Bay's head coach Thomas Rongen won the 1999 MLS Cup and Supporters Shield double in the first of his three seasons coaching United. Rongen also won the Shield in 1996 with the Tampa Bay Mutiny.
Newer fans who don't necessarily recognize Rongen will still see some Brazilians they know well. Maicon Santos is Tampa's leading scorer (2 goals in 4 appearances), while defensive midfielder Marcelo Saragosa is 4th on the team in minutes played. Like most NASL teams, they have quite a few ex-MLS players in their ranks as well. Ben Sweat (Columbus), Corey Hertzog (NYRB), Matt Pickens (Colorado/New England), Rich Balchan (Columbus/RSL), Zak Boggs (New England), and Gale Agbossoumonde (TFC/Colorado) are all on their 2015 roster. In terms of local connections, former Maryland and UMBC defender/midfielder Marquez Fernandez is suiting up for the Rowdies as well.
Should the Rowdies win in Pennsylvania next week, United will face a trip down to Al Lang Stadium, a converted baseball venue. There are positives to the long trip, however: The field is grass (unlike Highmark Stadium's turf), and United is already headed to the Sunshine State earlier that week to face Orlando City SC. It seems reasonable to expect Ben Olsen to field a stronger-than-usual Cup team in that scenario. If Pittsburgh wins, it would be a surprise if United fielded anything other than a pure B team given the extra travel involved.
Elsewhere in the USOC draw, the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers will face each other in the 3rd and 4th rounds. The archrivals will see their respective USL offshoots play at Starfire Sports Complex next week (with the winner advancing to play RSL), while the senior teams will face off at the same venue on June 16th. If they can upset the odds once more, the two remaining amateur teams - PSA Elite and Chula Vista FC, both of California - won't have to travel far for their David vs. Goliath games against MLS clubs. PSA Elite would earn a trip to StubHub Center to face the Galaxy, while Chula Vista would earn themselves a trip to San Jose to face the Earthquakes.
The Richmond Kickers, United's USL affiliate, will host the Columbus Crew if they can defeat Jacksonville Armada FC, a newcomer in the NASL.
The full draw can be found on USSoccer.com.