Photo by ISIphotos.com
By Wednesday night, the U.S. Open Cup field will be narrowed down to four teams.
Only one of the eight remaining teams is a non-MLS competitor, as the Richmond Kickers is the last representative of U.S. Soccer's the lower tiers. They'll have the task of doing something no MLS team has been able to do yet — beat Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. The other MLS teams remaining are Chicago, New York, FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles and Seattle.
With the winner of the tournament guaranteed entry into the 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League, there's much on the line when the teams take to the field Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here's a closer look at the four quarterfinal matchups:
CHICAGO FIRE vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS
When: Tuesday, 6 p.m. (NOTE: First kick got moved ahead by two hours from its originally scheduled time)
Where: Toyota Park
How to watch: Live stream at Chicago-Fire.com
What to watch for: The Red Bulls are bringing a reserve-laden side to the match despite the club's trophy case being rather barren. The Fire, meanwhile, are going full throttle, knowing very well that this may be the club's best opportunity for silverware and a CCL spot this season. Chicago has won the Open Cup four times and would tie the record for most titles if it can turn its 2011 run into a championship.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. RICHMOND KICKERS
When: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Livestrong Sporting Park
How to watch: Live stream at SportingKC.com
What to watch for: The Kickers are the lone non-MLS team left in the competition, and they run into a Sporting KC side that's been unbeatable since Livestrong Sporting Park opened. SKC has also managed to beat its last two Open Cup opponents by a combined score of 8-0. Richmond, meanwhile, is no stranger to this stage, reaching the quarterfinals for the fifth time. The Kickers topped the Columbus Crew, 2-1, in the Round of 16 on the strength of an 85th-minute goal from Matthew Delicate.
FC DALLAS vs. REAL SALT LAKE
When: Tuesday, 9 p.m.
Where: Pizza Hut Park
How to watch: Live stream at FCDallas.com
What to watch for: The two Western Conference powers clashed just three days ago, with RSL coming out on top, 2-0. Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio won't be available for RSL, which could tilt the scales a bit in FCD's favor. Both clubs have aspirations of reaching the CCL, and winning the Open Cup would pave the easy route to doing so.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY
When: Wednesday, 10 p.m.
Where: Starfire Sports Complex
How to watch: Live stream on SoundersFC.com
What to watch for: The two-time defending champion Sounders will look to put away its MLS nemesis while maintaining its hope for a three peat. While Los Angeles got the better of Seattle in the MLS postseason last season, Seattle topped the Galaxy in the quarterfinal round of the Open Cup last year.
Who do you see winning the quarterfinal matchups?
Share your thoughts below.