Match Preview: Open Cup Play-In
CARSON, Calif. (March 29, 2011) - Chivas USA is looking to get their first win of the season Tuesday night- though it won’t be in an MLS contest. The Red-and-White face off against the Portland Timbers in a US Open Cup qualifier. The game kicks off in Portland at 7 p.m. PT and will be streaming live on cdchivasusa.com.
Now in it’s 98th year, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest American club soccer competition. The Cup has recently been dominated by MLS clubs, with a team from the nation’s top division winning each of the last eleven years.
What makes the Cup so special though is that it’s open to any USSF recognized team in the country- professional and amateur alike. Later rounds often feature exciting match-ups and the occasional big upset. Besides a place in American soccer history, the winner of the U.S. Open Cup gets a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Neither Chivas USA nor Portland are actually in the US Open Cup quite yet. This is just a “qualifying” match. Six teams from MLS automatically qualified for the Cup based on their record last season, but the other nine, including Chivas and Portland, have to compete just to get in.
The Red-and-White will need to win three qualifying matches to get into the US Open Cup proper, which begins in May.
Tuesday’s match will also be a homecoming for Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce. The Timbers won a coin-toss to get home field advantage, but because Jeld-Wen Field is still under renovation, the match is being held at The University of Portland’s Merlo Field.
Pearce, who spent his college career playing for the University of Portland, was visibly excited when he learned where the match was being played.
“That’s exciting, that will be a really cool thing,” said Pearce. “I actually haven’t been up there since I left. Usually when we have time off I’m with the National Team, and I haven’t had a chance to get up there. So it’ll be a good opportunity and an exciting experience.”