Update: The game is confirmed via press release for May 25th at 7:30 PM CT.
In news that will surprise no one, Sporting Kansas City were drawn to face an MLS opponent in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. SKC will face the Houston Dynamo... again. It is the 16th time in the last 18 USOC games that Sporting have played an MLS side. There was a possibility that they could have drawn USL League One (third division) side Union Omaha. Instead, Minnesota United are hosting Omaha. Sure, make the lower division team travel.
My colleague Mike Kuhn has some stats worth noting. That’s two-thirds of all the games against Houston, FC Dallas or Minnesota. Add in Real Salt Lake and that climbs to 78 percent and 89 percent of the games are against MLS opponents.
These are #SportingKC's last 18 USOC games.— Mike (@downthebyline) May 13, 2022
Half vs DAL/HOU
2/3rds vs DAL/HOU/MN (1 vs NASL MN)
78% vs DAL/HOU/MN/RSL
89% against MLS competition
I went 1 game further back than my previous tweet to have the full 2015 run, which adds a game against St. Louis. pic.twitter.com/lebDF0EW6u
There is the possibility of a lower division opponent still if Union Omaha can go on the road and upset Minnesota. Other than that, only two other non-MLS teams remain. Louisville City are on the complete other side of the bracket and can only meet Sporting if both teams were to make the finals. And the Sacramento Republic could meet SKC if they made it to the semi-finals. It won’t happen, but how fun would it be to see them face all three?!
A couple positives in an otherwise negative draw can be found. First, Sporting KC get another home game, so it’s another chance to get out to Children’s Mercy Park and support the boys. And the second is that they are quite good at home in the Open Cup. Since 2015, they haven’t lost in the USOC at home.
Despite that, I’d love to see the format of the Open Cup changed. Starting regional makes sense to cut down on travel costs for smaller teams. But once the MLS teams join, make them go on the road if they are drawn against a lower division side. It’s extra revenue for the lower division teams bringing in a bigger club. And if the games were somewhat regional, first team fans would probably make the trip. If Omaha had hosted KC, I’d sure hop in a car and go for a trip. But after drawing the regional-ish opponents for the lower division teams, just let anyone play anyone. That said, the region Sporting are in does seem to be easier, which I suppose is an easier path to a fifth US Open Cup trophy.