The business end of the U.S. Open Cup is underway as the round of 16 begins this week. Only two USL Championship sides remain with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Birmingham Legion. Both are playing MLS sides at home which will give them a chance at advancing to the final eight. The New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire will also take part in the round of 16 without making permanent head coaching hires but the headline match will be El Trafico taking place for the second time this season as Los Angeles FC will host the LA Galaxy at BMO Stadium.
Four of the matches for this round will air live on CBS Sports Golazo Network with 14 of the 16 remaining sides being Major League Soccer clubs.
Matches are now broken down into a bracket format as the winner of the Central region will play the winner of the West region for a spot in the final while the same will go for the Northeast and Southeast.
Open Cup bracket and schedule
All times Eastern
Austin FC vs. Chicago Fire FC, Wednesday at 9 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United FC, Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
New York Red Bulls vs. FC Cincinnati, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Columbus Crew, Wednesday at 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Golazo Network)
Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake, Wednesday at 10 p.m. (CBS Sports Golazo Network)
Los Angeles Football Club vs. LA Galaxy, Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Golazo Network)
Birmingham Legion FC vs. Charlotte FC, Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Inter Miami CF vs. Nashville SC, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Golazo Network)
El Trafico takes center stage
The Galaxy are finding new ways to struggle but rivalry matches sees form go out the window. The last time these two met it featured five goals with LAFC eventually winning and there’s no reason not to expect similar fireworks this time around. At opposite ends of the Western Conference, these squads couldn’t be headed in more opposite directions but the Galaxy are also too talented to be as bad as they are. Chicharito Hernandez and Carlos Vela will likely feature along with the top attacker in MLS right now, Denis Bouanga. The LAFC forward has 10 goals so far this season to go along with one assist.
Can the Riverhounds keep their run going?
Undefeated in their last five matches, the Riverhounds will have a chance to roll into the final eight. Head coach Bob Lilley is one of the best coaches in USL and will have his team well-prepared to face the Crew. Wilfried Nancy’s squad has been performing well this season which will present a challenge especially if top players like Lucas Zelarayan are risked in the match.
What about the teams without coaches?
After parting ways with Ezra Hendrickson, the Fire have instilled Frank Klopas as the interim head coach. They shown fight under him but a victory over Austin FC could certainly boost his candidacy for the long-term gig. The Fire need stability more than anything so that they can grow and continue to build up talented youth prospects. A club in a similar boat are the New York Red Bulls although they’re built to win now. The Red Bulls have a longer-term vision with Troy Lesesne taking charge until the end of the season but faltering in Open Cup play while the team struggles to score goals could lead to a scenario where things change quicker as they are currently below the playoff line.