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US Open Cup: Sizing Up the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Plotting the Next Path

Wednesday sees the Portland Timbers take on the Tampa Rowdies in the next stage of the US Open Cup.

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The Portland Timbers will continue their Open Cup run this week after defeating the Wilmington Hammerheads 5-1 a couple weeks ago. Like with the Hammerheads, this week the Timbers will be taking on an opponent from the lower divisions of the United States in the Tampa Bay Rowdies. But don't let the Rowdies league fool you, they managed to win 1-nil against the Seattle Sounders, a former US Open Cup standout.

A thoroughly mid table club at the moment in the NASL, the last time the Timbers and the Rowdies met in competition was back in the original NASL. However, as with the Timbers, the Rowdies of today are a completely different organization.

In league play the Rowdies are currently at 12 points for their Spring season. This places them in 4th for the 7 club league (I know it's not very much). They're led in the offense by forward Georgi Hristov who has scored 7 goals and earned 3 assists in league play so far this season. Mulholland is the current runner up with 4 goals to his name.

Looking to the back, however, is Diego Restrepo, their keeper. I don't know too much about him, but I wanted to single him out as he is primarily the reason why the Rowdies are still in the US Open Cup today, especially after he managed to save an all important penalty kick against the Sounders' Obafemi Martins. If the Timbers are expecting another multiple goal game this weekend, they're not going to be able to rely on keeper mistakes.

Looking beyond the Rowdies, should the Timbers make it that far, the road gets considerably more challenging. Depending on who wins, the Timbers will be facing either FC Dallas (the current league leaders) or the Houston Dynamo. No matter which one wins, however, the Timbers will have to travel to Texas to play. As we all know from seasons' past the Timbers are not a strong side in Texas.

That game will be played on June 26th at either 5:30 pm (Houston) or 6:00 pm (Dallas). That date comes four days after a regular season home game against the Colorado Rapids, but with a nice regular season break afterwards.

Obviously, it's still a long road for the Timbers in the US Open Cup and it certainly won't be easy, but nothing the Timbers have accomplished so far this season has been easy. As with any regular season match, all we can expect is that the Timbers will give it their full commitment, starting with the Rowdies this Wednesday.

What do you think about the Timbers next USOC game against the Rowdies? What about their potential opponent after that?