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Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 Previews – Tuesday, May 21

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/20/24, 3:50PM EDT


USL Championship hopefuls take aim at place in Quarterfinals at home, on the road

Sacramento Republic FC's Rodrigo Lopez and Conor Donovan are among seven players who were in the starting lineup when the club last faced the San Jose Earthquakes in the Round of 16 in the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republi

The Round of 16 in the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicks off on Tuesday night with five games, all featuring USL Championship sides as they endeavor to continue their runs in the historic tournament against opposition from Major League Soccer and MLS NEXT Pro.

Here’s a look ahead at the action.

Charleston Battery vs. Atlanta United FC

Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery will try to continue their undefeated start to the 2024 campaign across all competitions as they host 2019 Open Cup title winner Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer.

The Battery are coming off a 1-0 victory on the road against Birmingham Legion FC last Wednesday night that extended the club’s lead at the top of the Eastern Conference while earning its eighth win in the last nine league outings. Emilio Ycaza scored the only goal for the Battery at Protective Stadium while goalkeeper Adam Grinwis recorded five saves in Charleston’s third consecutive league shutout.

Charleston has been led this season by forward Nick Markanich with 12 goals and four assists across all competitions and MD Myers, who notched a hat trick inn the Battery’s 3-2 victory against South Georgia Tormenta FC in the Round of 32. The side also features midfielder Aaron Molloy and Graham Smith, who started a season ago for the Memphis 901 FC side that knocked Atlanta out of the Open Cup in the Fourth Round.

Atlanta heads to Charleston off a 1-1 draw against Nashville SC that saw Bartosz Slisz score a second-half equalizer at Geodis Park. United took a 3-0 victory against the Charlotte Independence in the Round of 32 as Nicolas Firmino scored twice and Daniel Rios once at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, but the side is winless in its last eight games in MLS (0-4-4) and currently sits in 12th place in MLS’s Eastern Conference. The visitors are set to be without its two leading goalscorers this season, too, with Argentine international Thiago Almada and forward Giorgos Giakoumakis both listed as out in the pregame injury report.

Spotlight Players
Charleston Battery – Aaron Molloy:
The Irish midfielder has made a major impact since his arrival from Memphis this offseason and will need to put in a strong two-way shift again to help the hosts reach the Quarterfinals for the first time since the 2010 tournament.

Atlanta United FC – Daniel Rios: The former North Carolina FC forward was a standout in his two seasons in the Championship, bagging consecutive 20-goal campaigns for NCFC (2018) and Nashville SC (2019) before competing in both Major League Soccer and LigaMX over the past four years.

New York City FC II vs. New Mexico United

Venue: Belson Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

The Lowdown: New Mexico United will try to advance to the Quarterfinals of the Open Cup for the second time in club history as it heads east to take on New York City FC II of MLS NEXT Pro.

New Mexico is coming off a bye in the Championship having taken a 2-1 victory against Oakland Roots SC in its most recent league outing on May 11. Greg Hurst and Mukwelle Akale scored in either half for New Mexico at Isotopes Park to earn the side its third consecutive victory in all competitions as the side solidified its position in second place in the Western Conference.

United advanced to the Round of 16 with a 4-2 victory against current MLS Western Conference leader Real Salt Lake at Isotopes Park as Zico Bailey scored a pair of goals before Nicky Hernandez and Jacobo Reyes added goals. New Mexico had previously taken a 3-1 victory against amateur side Lubbock Matadors, a result that was part of a run of seven wins in the last eight games overall for Head Coach Eric Quill’s side.

New York City FC II arrives in the Round of 16 as MLS NEXT Pro’s last representative in the tournament, but having earned its spot with victories against a pair of USL Championship opponents in the past two rounds. NYCFCII defeated Hartford Athletic 3-2 after extra time on April 17 in the Third Round before eliminating Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1-0 earlier this month behind an early goal from Jonathan Jimenez. The hosts are coming off a 4-2 victory on May 13 against Chicago Fire FC II that saw Jimenez among four different scorers.

Spotlight Players
New York City FC II – Máximo Carrizo:
The 16-year-old NYCFC Homegrown player scored the game-winner in extra time against Hartford Athletic and has two goals and two assists in eight appearances in MLS NEXT Pro this season.

New Mexico United – Greg Hurst: The Scottish forward has recorded four goals in nine appearances this season and has put 11 shots on target out of 18 shots overall to deliver a consistent attacking threat for United this season.

Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Tulsa

Venue: Children’s Mercy Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

The Lowdown: FC Tulsa will try to continue its deepest run in the Open Cup in club history as it heads to face Sporting Kansas City with both sides coming off defeats in the past weekend’s action.

FC Tulsa’s four-game undefeated streak across all competitions ended on Saturday night with a 5-0 defeat against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium as the visitors struggled to get on track while conceding four times in the first half. The side had scored in each of its past four outings, however, with Phillip Goodrum scoring a late winner against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the Round of 32 to carry Tulsa forward.

Sporting KC suffered a 3-2 defeat to Austin FC on Saturday night, meanwhile, continuing its recent downturn in league form that has placed the side in 13th place in MLS’s Western Conference. SKC is winless in it last seven league contests (0-5-2) and has lost four in a row around a 2-1 victory against USL League One side Union Omaha that came on a goal in the final minute of extra time by Mexican international Alan Pulido in the last round. Sporting has a proud tradition in the Open Cup, however, having won the tournament on four occasions and will be looking for a good performance on home turf.

Spotlight Players
Sporting Kansas City – Willy Agada:
The Nigerian forward has recorded three goals and two assists in 12 appearances in Major League Soccer this season and started the side’s last outing in the Open Cup against Omaha.

FC Tulsa – Phillip Goodrum: The versatile forward has recorded two goals and one assist in the league this season as well as the side’s winner in the Open Cup in the last round, and helped Memphis 901 FC to a road upset of Atlanta United FC a season ago.

Sacramento Republic FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Venue: Heart Health Park
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will welcome fellow NorCal club the San Jose Earthquakes back to Heart Health Park for the second meeting between the clubs in the Open Cup in the past three tournaments as Republic FC looks to continue its undefeated start to the current campaign.

Sacramento grabbed a late 2-2 draw in its most recent outing on May 11 against Rhode Island FC to remain undefeated at the top of the Western Conference standings with five wins and five draws so far this season. The side is coming off a bye in USL Championship play, allowing it to prepare to face a San Jose side it took a 2-0 victory against at this stage during Sacramento’s run to the Open Cup Final in 2022.

Both of the goalscorers from that night remain with the Republic FC squad in Luis Felipe Fernandes and Rodrigo Lopez, as do five other players that were in the starting lineup. The changes have predominantly come in attack, with Russell Cicerone having led the side in goals a season ago and offseason signing Trevor Amann sitting on six goals and one assist in 10 appearances after claiming the USL League One Golden Boot last year.

San Jose is coming off a 1-0 defeat to Orlando City SC this past Saturday, the club’s second consecutive defeat in league play. The Quakes had earned three consecutive victories prior to their recent dip in form, however, including a 3-1 win against Los Angeles FC and a 1-0 win against Oakland Roots SC to advance in the Open Cup Round of 32. With new signing Hernan Lopez already making an impact with two goals in four appearances, the visitors will likely be out for revenge in what looks on paper to be a hard-fought clash.

Spotlight Players
Sacramento Republic FC – Rodrigo Lopez:
The veteran midfielder has been among Sacramento’s most influential players again this season with two goals, one assist and 12 chances created in nine appearances.

San Jose Earthquakes – Cristian Espinoza: The Argentine playmaker has already recorded two goals and seven assists in Major League Soccer this season and will be a player Sacramento must account for if he sees the field.

Los Angeles FC vs. Loudoun United FC

Venue: BMO Stadium
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET

The Lowdown: Loudoun United FC will try to pull off a second consecutive victory in California in the Open Cup as it visits Los Angeles FC with both teams coming off victories in their most recent outings over the past weekend.

Loudoun got back on a winning track in the USL Championship with a 3-0 win against Monterey Bay F.C. at Segra Field on Saturday night that saw New Zealand U-23 international Riley Bidois score his first goal for the club before Kalil ElMedkhar found the net as a second-half substitute. United advanced to the Round of 16 with a 2-1 victory against fellow Championship club Orange County SC in the last round that saw Wesley Leggett score twice and goalkeeper Dane Jacomen record a key penalty save at Championship Soccer Stadium.

LAFC earned a 2-0 victory against St. Louis CITY SC on Saturday night as Denis Bouanga scored both goals to move to eight tallies and five assists in 13 league contests this season. Los Angeles currently sits in fifth place in MLS’s Western Conference after consecutive league wins in the past two weeks, with Cristian Oliveira backing up his two-goal performance against Las Vegas Lights FC in the Round of 32 in the Open Cup with a brace in a 3-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on May 11.

Spotlight Players
Los Angeles FC – Timothy Tillman:
The United States international has recorded four goals and two assists in MLS this season and notched an assist after being included in the starting lineup in LAFC’s victory against Las Vegas in the Round of 32.

Loudoun United FC – Florian Valot: The French veteran has been among Loudoun’s most influential players this season with one goal, two assists and 14 chances created and his top-flight experience will be important for the visitors to spring an upset.

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