U.S. Soccer has announced the format of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup and the MLS teams based in the United States will be joining play in the Cup's fourth round between June 10th and 18th. The date range contains only one game for the Portland Timbers, the team's second match against FC Dallas, although it also falls during the group stage of the 2014 World Cup.
Like last year, the Open Cup will consist of eight rounds of play, culminating in the final which will be played on either September 30th or October 1st. This year, thanks to the MLS break for the World Cup, the fourth and fifth round matches of the Open Cup will have the possibility of being played on weekends, rather than the mid-week berths that Open Cup games usually occupy.
The Portland Timbers U-23's, who qualified for the competition for the second year in a row, will enter in the second round. The U-23's have already had the date for their first match set and will host Arizona United SC at Providence Park on Tuesday, May 13th. United are the current home of Timbers defender and midfielder Bryan Gallego, who was loaned to them earlier this week, and former Timber Charles Renken.
Last season saw the Timbers make a deep run into the Open Cup, beating the Wilmington Hammerheads, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and FC Dallas before eventually falling to (who else) Real Salt Lake in the semi-final. Real Salt Lake lost at home in the final to the team that posted the worst ever record in MLS last season, DC United.
In the Timbers' first season in MLS, the team failed to qualify for the Open Cup after beating Chivas USA but losing to the San Jose Earthquakes in a series of play-in games. 2012 was even more disastrous as the Timbers lost to 1-0 to amateur side Cal FC in a first-round game that essentially sealed the fate of John Spencer as the team's manager.
The full Open Cup schedule for the first and second rounds can be found here. Who do you want to see the Timbers draw?