The U.S. Open Cup will be down to its final two teams by night's end.
Four MLS teams have fought through the tournament's new format to persevere to the semifinals, with the Philadelphia Union, Sporting Kansas City, Seattle Sounders and Chivas USA emerging as the final teams standing after a wild tournament marked by upsets, Cinderella stories and late-game heroics.
In addition to advancing to the final, hosting rights are on the line for three of the four teams. If Sporting Kansas City defeats Philadelphia, then they will host the final no matter what happens in the other semifinal. If Philadelphia wins and Chivas USA wins, then the Union will host the final. If Philadelphia wins and Seattle wins, though, then the Sounders would host the chance to capture their fourth straight tournament title and a place in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League.
Here is a closer look at the semifinal matchups:
U.S. OPEN CUP SEMIFINALS
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY
TV: 7:30 p.m., PhiladelphiaUnion.com stream
IN MLS PLAY: Philadelphia defeated Sporting KC 4-0 on June 23.
ROAD TO THE SEMIS: Philadelphia defeated the Rochester Rhinos, D.C. United and Harrisburg City Islanders; Sporting KC defeated Orlando City SC, Colorado Rapids and Dayton Dutch Lions.
If this meeting were taking place just a few weeks ago, Sporting KC would be the odds-on favorite to walk all over the Union and coast to the final. Philadelphia has responded to the major shake-up on the sideline, though, with the club's young attacking pieces coming together under John Hackworth to win three of their last four games — including that romp over SKC that opened some eyes and was a real turning point. Jack McInerney, in particular, has come to life with his new-found playing time, and he torched SKC for two goals in that matchup.
After a 7-0-0 start in league play, SKC has fallen back to the pack, going 3-5-3 since. In order to maintain its quest to capture its first trophy since the 2004 U.S. Open Cup, the club needs recapture it's earlier form. That starts in the back, where the defense has been uncharacteristically shaky but began its comeback with a shutout of Houston in a scoreless draw this past weekend.
"Obviously they took it to us a couple weeks ago and we want that revenge," centerback Matt Besler told SportingKC.com. "We want to bring this club some silverware, and Wednesday is a great time to start."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. CHIVAS USA
TV: 10 p.m., SoundersFC.com stream
IN MLS PLAY: Tied 1-1 on May 26.
ROAD TO THE SEMIS: Chivas defeated Ventura County Fusion, Carolina RailHawks and Charlotte Eagles; Seattle defeated Atlanta Silverbacks, Cal FC and San Jose Earthquakes.
For Seattle, a win would put the club in position to capture an unprecedented fourth straight U.S. Open Cup title. That may have seemed like a stretch a couple of weeks ago before the club turned its luck around. Mired in a long winless stretch, Seattle dug deep in the quarterfinals to win on the road against an in-form San Jose side and turned that momentum into four points in league play — a draw against Real Salt Lake and a win over Colorado. Fredy Montero has been in the doghouse a bit, but with him rested after not featuring over the weekend, he should be primed to play a big part.
Chivas have yet to face an MLS team in this competition, with the rash of upsets in the third round making for an easier path to the semifinals. That's not to take away from what Chivas have accomplished, flying a bit under the radar to close in on getting their first chance to play for a trophy. Injuries have taken their toll on the Goats, though, with Juan Agudelo — who scored against Seattle in their regular season matchup — nursing a knee injury and Ante Jazic dealing with a groin strain. Jose Erick Correa stepped up with two goals in the quarterfinal win over Charlotte, and the young Colombian forward could be looked to again to provide another spark to help Chivas spring the upset.
How do you see tonight's games playing out? Which teams do you see advancing to the final? Which final matchup are you hoping for? Does Seattle's three-year run end tonight?
Share your thoughts below.