COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids will return to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time since 2019 as they take on Minnesota United FC in the Round of 32 at Allianz Field on Wednesday, May 11. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. MT and the match will be broadcast on ESPN+.
First held during the 1913-14 season, the U.S. Open Cup (USOC) is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States. The tournament features teams from across the American soccer pyramid, from the professional level—Major League Soccer (MLS), the United Soccer League (USL) and the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA)—down to the semi-pro and amateur ranks, providing unique David-versus-Goliath matchups not seen across any of the country’s other major professional sports.
In this year’s iteration of the USOC—the first since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic— not all MLS teams entered the competition in the Third Round as has been customary in recent years (lower division sides feature in the first two rounds). The eight highest-seeded teams from the 2021 MLS season, which include the Western Conference-topping Rapids, bypassed the Third Round and are entering the tournament this week in the Round of 32 (Fourth Round). Each round of the USOC is single elimination so the Rapids must win on Wednesday night in order to advance to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2017, which was also the last time Colorado faced an MLS opponent in the competition.
“My approach [to the U.S. Open Cup] is to treat it like it’s any other game in that we want to win,” said Rapids head coach Robin Fraser ahead of the match. “The thing about the Open Cup is if you win six games in a row, you’re in [Concacaf] Champions League. So for anyone who may not take it seriously, they’re looking at it slightly different than we are because for us, I think we try to win every game that we play and the mentality is that we want to win every competition we’re in, so the approach for this game is really about trying to win, period.”
Fraser’s side enter their midweek clash against the Loons looking to regain their form amidst a rash of player injuries, absences and roster changes. The Rapids have been without club captain Jack Price since he suffered a hamstring injury during the club’s home match against Charlotte FC on April 23, while defender Danny Wilson has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury of his own. Rapids forward Diego Rubio, who leads the team with five goals in the MLS regular season, is available again after missing the club’s 1-0 loss at San Jose on Saturday due to suspension. Conversely, Designated Player Gyasi Zardes, who is still settling in since joining the club on April 22, is unable to feature for the Rapids on Wednesday night to his previous participation in the tournament this year with Columbus Crew. The club also saw forward Andre Shinyashiki recently depart for Charlotte FC via trade on May 8.
Colorado will face a Minnesota side that has experienced recent success in the U.S. Open Cup, having reached the final of the competition in its last iteration (2019). The Loons, who are a familiar opponent for the Rapids this season following their league match just three weeks ago, are coming off a recent defeat of their own, a 1-0 stoppage-time loss at home to FC Cincinnati over the weekend.
The winner of Wednesday’s match, along with the other Round of 32 winners, will be pooled geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four. A random draw, to be held on Thursday, May 12, will determine the pairings within each group for the Round of 16.