Last night, in the hours before D.C. United fell to the Portland Timbers, there was a full slate of US Open Cup games going on. The third round was played in its entirety, and when the dust settled United learned that the road to a fourth USOC trophy will start in Pittsburgh against the Riverhounds of the USL. The fourth round match will take place June 17th at 7pm at Pittsburgh's Highmark Stadium, a two-year old facility located right next to the Monongahela River.
The Riverhounds earned their place in the fourth round by knocking off the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-0 after Rob Vincent scored the game's only goal in stoppage time. Before that, Pittsburgh had defeated the West Virginia Chaos of the PDL 3-0 after entering the Open Cup in the second round. United's visit will be their third straight home match in the competition. The clubs have met once before, with United winning 2-1 at the Maryland Soccerplex in the 2003 Open Cup. Fans from that era may remember Dema Kovalenko celebrating a goal that night by running into the crowd to hug some children behind the goal.
The USL Riverhounds beating the NASL Rowdies was an indicator of what was to come on the night. USL clubs faced NASL clubs in seven third round pairings, and in all seven the USL club - supposedly US Soccer's third division - advanced. Saint Louis FC - with former United player Brandon Barklage converting his shootout attempt - knocked out Minnesota United (the future MLS expansion candidates) on penalties. Louisville City FC went to Indianapolis and defeated Indy Eleven 2-0, with both goals coming late in extra time. The Charleston Battery came from 2-1 down to knock the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers out in South Carolina. The Charlotte Independence scored late to eliminate the Carolina Railhawks. The Richmond Kickers, as you hopefully read by now, crushed the Jacksonville Armada, while the Austin Aztex were 2-0 winners on the road against the San Antonio Scorpions (who saw ex-United defenders Julius James and Stephen deRoux both given red cards after the final whistle).
In the end 12 USL clubs joined 17 from MLS in the fourth round, along with 2 from the NASL and amateur side PSA Elite, who as the last remaining amateur club received a $15,000 prize. Full results from the third round can be found here. The fifth round pairings have yet to be confirmed, but once US Soccer conducts the draw we will bring you the results.