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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

U.S. Open Cup third round pairings announced; Carolina RailHawks could host LA Galaxy on May 29

Posted by Google on Wed, May 16, 2012 at 9:52 PM

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Today, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) announced prospective pairings for the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup, which takes place on Tuesday, May 29. Of special interest to Triangle sports fans is the news that should the Carolina RailHawks defeat PSA Elite, a fifth division side from Irvine, Calif., at WakeMed Soccer Park on May 22, the RailHawks will host the L.A. Galaxy of Major League Soccer the following Tuesday.

No victory should be taken for granted by the winless RailHawks, so a win over PSA Elite, or any team for that matter, is certainly not a foregone conclusion. Still, it’s hard to ignore the tantalizing prospect of hosting arguably the biggest soccer match in Carolina's history against the flagship franchise of MLS, which boasts such soccer superstars such as Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Keane.

That said, it is common for MLS clubs to rest many of their regular starters during the early rounds of the U.S. Open Cup. In the Galaxy’s case, they play a league match at Houston three days prior on May 26. Although the Galaxy don’t play another MLS match until June 17, the U.S. Men’s National Team faces Brazil in an international friendly on Wednesday, May 30, further diminishing the chances that Donovan and possibly Edson Buddle would appear in an Open Cup match the night before. Moreover, Keane is captain of the Republic of Ireland football team, which takes on Denmark in a friendly on May 28.

Still, professional athletes have long memories, and many of the Galaxy’s players and coaches undoubtedly recall being eliminated from the 2010 CONCACAF Champions League by the Puerto Rico Islanders, another second division club coached by Colin Clarke, who now manages the RailHawks.

Also of interest are the potential pairings involving other regional pro soccer clubs. Obviously, the ultimate matchups depend on the results of the May 22 second round games. However, it is possible that on a single night of U.S. Open Cup competition on May 29, the Galaxy would play the RailHawks in Cary, the Portland Timbers would face the Hammerheads in Wilmington, the New York Red Bulls would visit the Battery in Charleston, the Seattle Sounders would take on the Silverbacks in Atlanta and DC United would travel to Richmond to play the Kickers.

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Although advancing to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup shouldn't be taken for granted by the winless RailHawks, it's hard to ignore the tantalizing prospect of hosting the flagship franchise of MLS.

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