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Pulse of Pittsburgh Soccer: As Magic of the US Open Cup rages on, Riverhounds will find out Round of 32 opponent this week

Photo courtesy Ed Thompson

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC are focused right now on getting their first win of the season, and their next opponent definitely won’t be an easy one — as they travel to the Southwest for the second time this season to take on defending USL Championship Cup winners, Phoenix Rising FC.

We’ll have more on that match-up to come later this week.

In addition, before I roll up my sleeves and go full throttle into some US Open Cup sicko content — be on the look out for an analysis column to come on the Hounds lack of scoring (one goal in five matches!! ???)  and also a new edition of the Sounding Off on Soccer podcast will drop either on Thursday or Friday, with some special guests!

Also, be sure to check out the Pittsburgh Soccer Schedule for the coming weeks below, as a few men’s college programs in the area are wrapping up their spring schedules on Saturday, including another ‘cross-tahn’ match-up between Robert Morris and Point Park.  Not sure the last time Point Park and RMU played each other — but way back in the day when I was Head Coach at Point Park, we did face Bill Denniston’s RMU side in a spring match in the Spring of 1998 (I believe!!).  Fair to say, while we kept it competitive, but that’s a final score that evades my memory.  We did scrimmage Duquesne at newly christened Rooney Field in Fall of 1998, and gave them a pretty good run for their money, losing a 1-0 decision without some of our key starters from that season.

Here’s a look at that 1998 Point Park men’s soccer team…

In the meantime, lets take a deep dive into the Open Cup possibilities for a second here…

the Hounds will also find out their opponent for the U.S. Open Cup later this week (likely Friday though no announcement has come yet), after the Nation’s longest running knockout soccer competition’s Third Round is completed, and the draw will take place on Friday to decide the 4th Round (Round of 32) match-ups.

The remaining eight USL Championship teams and eight MLS teams will enter in the Round of 32, along with the winners from the Third Round. The eight USL Championship teams include the Hounds, 2023 league champion Phoenix Rising FC and the next six best teams from 2023 standings enter Round of 32.

On Tuesday, as the Third Round began, USL Championship (US Second Division) clubs entered the tournament, with four of the five second division clubs advancing (only Rhode Island FC were defeated, in a penalty kick shootout against USL League One’s Charlotte Independence).

For the latest on the Open Cup — you can always check out the great work that our friends over at TheCup.US are doing, including previews for all of the Third Round matches that are still coming up on Wednesday and Thursday.

Last year’s successful Open Cup run provided the Hounds with a huge boost and momentum for the rest of the season, as Head Coach Bob Lilley was able to give some players who didn’t play as much early in the season, some extremely valuable playing opportunities, while contributing to victories while also giving the coaching staff loads of confidence to be able to turn much deeper into the depth chart when needed throughout the rest of the season.

The struggling Hounds this season have only started 14 different field players through five matches this season.  So, that will be something to keep an eye on — as the Hounds’ Round of 32 match will also help serve as an opportunity to give some more players a chance to step up when given opportunity to start.

We’ll continue to monitor the tournament over the next few days, but potential opponents for the Hounds are anyone’s guess right now.  The tournament does its best to keep things regional in the early rounds, so the most likely four-team pods they could be drawn into will come from either Northeast, Mid-Atlantic or Midwest groups.  It’s likely they’ll end up in a four team grouping. Most of the USL Championship teams that enter the Round of 32 are in the West, with the exception of Charleston Battery and Tampa Bay Rowdies, who will be very unlikely clubs that will enter the same draw as the Hounds.   You could say the same thing for the eight MLS teams that enter the fray in the Round of 32, as Atlanta is the only club that would qualify that comes from the Eastern time zone.   In order to even things out, it’s very hard to predict where the Hounds will end up.

My best best would still have the Hounds enter against some four team grouping that includes winners of Loudoun United FC-Richmond Kickers, NYCFC-Hartford and some random MLS team that has almost no geographical connection (Atlanta United FC, Sporting KC, Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas are all in play).

Currently, teams that have advanced include:

  • Detroit City FC (USLC)
  • New Mexico United (USLC)
  • Louisville (USLC)
  • Oakland Roots (USLC)
  • Charlotte Independence (USLL1)

Here’s the remaining match-ups of teams that could be drawn into Hounds’ draw:

  • NYCFC II (MLSNP) vs Hartford (USLC)
  • Carolina Core FC (MLSNP) vs North Carolina FC (USLC)
  • Indy Eleven (USLC) vs Chicago Fire II (MSLNP)
  • Loudoun United FC (USLC) vs Richmond Kickers (USLL1)

Here are the other seven USL teams that will enter in the Round of 32:

  • Phoenix Rising SC
  • Charleston Battery
  • Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
  • Orange County SC
  • Sacramento Republic FC
  • San Antonio FC
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies

Here are the MLS teams set to enter in the Round of 32:

  • Atlanta United FC
  • FC Dallas
  • Houston Dynamo FC
  • Los Angeles FC
  • Real Salt Lake
  • San Jose Earthquakes
  • Seattle Sounders FC
  • Sporting Kansas City

Remaining US Open Cup Schedule

Round of 32         Tuesday, May 7 – Wednesday, May 8
Round of 16         Tuesday, May 21 – Wednesday, May 22
Quarterfinal        Tuesday, July 9 – Wednesday, July 10
Semifinal              Tuesday, Aug. 27 – Wednesday, Aug. 28
Final                      Wednesday, Sept. 25

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Pittsburgh Soccer Schedule (4/17/2024 – 5/8/2024)

Thursday-Friday, April 18-19     US Open Cup Draw for Round of 32

Saturday, April 20                         (Men’s College) — Duquesne vs Tiffin   1 p.m.     Rooney Field

(Men’s College) — Robert Morris at Point Park    TBA     Highmark Stadium

Riverhounds at Phoenix Rising FC        10:3o p.m.   Phoenix, AZ

Saturday, April 27                          Detroit City FC vs  Riverhounds             7 p.m.     Highmark Stadium

Saturday, May 4                             Miami FC vs Riverhounds        7 p.m.      Highmark Stadium

 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Glory on the Grass

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Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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