The 2012 U.S. Open Cup draw was conducted yesterday (Monday) and today the match-ups for Round One were released today. In addition, Round Two was mapped out with each USL-Pro and NASL team now knowing the two amateur teams vying for a chance to face them. This means that the Rhinos now know they will host either the Brooklyn Italians or GPS Portland Phoenix.
Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)
GPS Portland Phoenix (PDL)
Deering High School;
Tuesday May 15, 8:00 p.m. ET
The Rhinos also found out that they will host whichever team wins the game on the 15th. May 22 at 7:35 PM, Rochester’s Rhinos will begin their cup run against either the Brooklyn Italians or GPS Portland Phoenix at Sahlen’s Stadium.
Here is a brief run down of each of the two clubs the Rhinos could face.
GPS Portland Phoenix is a USL Premier Development League team founded in 2009. In 2010 the team finished second in the Northeast Division, bested by their first place showing in 2011. While the team has shown dominance in its league, they have failed to get past the first round of the PDL postseason in both of its campaigns. 2012 is the first cup appearance for Portland Phoenix and they may very well be the first team from Maine to ever participate in the U.S. Open Cup.
Their opponents, Brooklyn Italians are long-time cup veterans. The New York City-based team now playing in the National Premier Soccer League, have lifted the trophy twice in 1979 and 1991. The team, founded in 1949, have also appeared in two other cup finals in 1981 and 1990. All of their cup success has occurred in the amateur era, before the creation of MLS, however. In the first round last year, Brooklyn Italians were eliminated by another New York City amateur team and in 2010 they were defeated by the Harrisburg City Islanders.
The early rounds of the cup are set up to pair geographic close teams against each other to reduce travel costs. Even so, Portland Phoenix faces an 8 to 9 hour drive while the Brooklyn Italians are looking at a six and half hour drive up to Rochester. Neither of these teams should be taken lightly as last year’s opponents Phoenix SC from Feasterville, Pennsylvania, showed they could keep the ball well and hang with the Rhinos for most of the game.
USL didn’t do their teams any favors with scheduling, even though they knew far ahead of time that every American-based team (all except Antigua) would have a cup match on May 22. The Rhinos host Dayton the Friday before (18) and go to Harrisburg the following Friday (25) and Dayton the next day (26). This creates a situation in which the Rhinos will play 4 games in 8 days, and if they win the cup match they will face their fifth game in 11 days on Tuesday May 29. It is not as though the U.S. Open Cup is a surprise to USL, but every year they fail to make room in their schedule for teams who are even remotely successful in their cup campaigns.