-Ed. Note: This is a guest post by Bart Keeler. Bart is a guest-writer, whose main SB Nation duties are podcast editor for the Smoking Musket.
The U.S. Open Cup has now entered the mindset of most American soccer fans, as all 19 U.S.-based MLS teams have entered the competition. Although the first three rounds offer a chance for smaller clubs to have some fun, the big boys are here to play.
Despite most MLS sides playing a regional second-tier foe, we do have three all-MLS pairings, which will make for some fun. There are also a couple of teams representing expansion hopefuls who could make a statement this week.
Here’s my list:
A Cascadia Derby in the old Sounders home? Fun times for all! Surprisingly, Portland has never won the Open Cup, whereas Seattle has won it four times since joining MLS.
Another rivalry match in the Open Cup! Kind of a shame these two clubs were paired together in the first MLS round, as both could have made decent runs.
3. FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus (June 14, 7:30 p.m., Nippert Stadium)
This could be very interesting. Cincy has become a soccer hotbed, averaging 19,415 in attendance. The Crew are drawing 13,050. More Ohioans are watching FC Cincinnati in person than the Crew.
4. D.C. United vs. Christos FC (June 13, 7:30 p.m., Maryland SoccerPlex)
The best story of the 2017 Cup is Christos FC. They’re an amateur team who practices drinking more than soccer (we can all relate, right) and are about to face their “hometown” team.
This is the third all-MLS match. I find it hard to be excited for it, but it deserves to be up this high because it’ll at least have two MLS teams.
6. Orlando City vs. Miami FC (June 14, 7:30 p.m., Orlando City Stadium)
Another in-state matchup, but with less on the line. However, Miami is the top team in NASL and averages 1.5 goals a match. Also, maybe Kaka vs. Andres Iniesta?
7. San Jose Earthquakes vs. San Francisco Deltas (June 14, 10:30 p.m., Avaya Stadium)
A “battle of the Bay,” if you will. Both teams struggle to score goals, but San Jose has been better at giving them up in MLS play.
8. North Carolina FC vs. Houston Dynamo (June 14, 7:30 p.m., Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park)
NCFC is vying for a spot in MLS. This long-standing club will have its work cut out with Erick Torres, but they will be at home, which is an advantage.
9. Sacramento Republic vs. Real Salt Lake (June 14, 10:30 p.m., Papa Murphy’s Park)
Sacramento has been drawing large crowds for a few years and are another potential MLS market. Real Salt Lake are still bad. I smell an upset.
10. Saint Louis FC vs. Chicago Fire (June 14, 8 p.m., Toyota Stadium)
When top-tier clubs go on the road in domestic cups, anything can happen. How will Chicago look without Schweinsteiger?
11. New England Revolution vs. Rochester Rhinos (June 14, 7:30 p.m., Anderson Stadium at Providence College)
They’re playing this game in Rhode Island, which is not in Massachusetts. Rochester is the only lower-tier club to win the Cup since MLS began.
12. LA Galaxy vs. Orange County SC (June 14, 10:30 p.m., StubHub Center Track Stadium)
The Galaxy aren’t even letting their neighbors into their home, just keeping them on the front porch. How rude.
13. Philadelphia Union vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (June 14, 7:30 p.m., Talen Energy Stadium)
Harrisburg had a soccer club long before Philadelphia. They used to be affiliated, but now the Union field their own USL Pro team. Revenge for the Islanders?
14. Atlanta United vs. Charleston Battery (June 14, 7:30 p.m., Fifth Third Bank Stadium)
I’m not sure how competitive this will be, as United will field bench players and Charleston is the USL affiliate. It will be a fun exercise for the new club.
15. FC Dallas vs. Tulsa Roughnecks (June 14, 8 p.m., Westcott Field at SMU)
Dallas needs to find some rhythm if they want to seriously contend in the West this year, so maybe finding some confidence against a USL side will help?
16. Colorado Rapids vs. OKC Energy (June 14, 9 p.m., Dick’s Sporting Goods Park)
Colorado is the worst team in MLS, but they will play at home, so that will help. OKC isn’t that great, either.
Which matchup excites you the most?
You can watch the U.S. Open Cup fourth round matches online on the hosts’ websites. All times listed as Eastern.