It's not a typo in the title, but the Timbers are facing off against the Kitsap Pumas in the opening round of the U.S. Open Cup tonight in Bremerton, Washington. The Open Cup is a competition where teams from all levels of US soccer play in a single elimination tournament, and the winner gets to call themselves the best team in US soccer for the year. The MLS, the top level of US Soccer, has an impressive list of winners, but they don't always win.
http://billsportsmaps.com/?p=2581 - This link provides an opening round map of the US Open cup with logos, and some great information about the tournament in general.
http://www.usopencup.com/firstround/index_E.html - The other opening round matches and potential opponents list
The Timbers suffered a humiliating defeat in the Open Cup last year, losing to Hollywood United at home 3 to 2 back last June. The team didn't take the match seriously, and with Hollywood converting 2 penalty kicks and getting a late goal, they pulled off the big upset. I don't expect the Timbers to make the same mistake this year, with the potential prize being a match versus the team from up north on June 30th. The Timbers would need to win this match, then another match versus the winner of Orange County - Sonoma County, but it could happen.
The Timbers also have some scouting to fall back on, since their U-23 team played Kitsap on Saturday and lost 1 to nil in a closely contested match. A match report from the Kitsap Sun talks about the closely contested match, which saw a Timbers player sent off early, and the Pumas making the one goal stand up for the full 90. Kitsap also maintained their lead in the Northwest Division of the PDL with the win.
And at least in their game preview, the Pumas don't fear the Timbers one bit, but being in a lower level, they seriously have nothing to lose in the match. If they lose, it's expected, and if they win, it's an upset. It's really up to the higher division team to show up, and take the game seriously, which the Timbers didn't do last year but will this year. Mind you, the Timbers have two other league matches this week, as they travel to Carolina on Thursday and Charleston on Saturday, so the team has a built in excuse already to ignore this match. But if you think this year's team will do that, you'd be dead wrong. I'd expect Gavin to use his bench and try to spread minutes out to keep some guys fresh for the week, but there will be some starters playing tonight.
Updates are available in a few ways, since there is no TV or radio broadcasts. The Soccer City USA board will have some updates in the Game Day thread, as I imagine TA members will update as they hear things. 95.5 The Game will be doing its regular Talk Timbers show at 7 PM with John Strong, and while they won't have Gavin there, they will have updates, plus a talk with former Timber, current LA Galaxy forward and part time lumberjack Alan Gordon. The Timbers will also be providing updates on Twitter, through their account. If you tweet, here's how you can get results:
Live updates from tonight's open cup match will be available on-line through the Timbers' Twitter account - www.twitter.com/TimbersFC. A team rep will also call into tonight's Talk Timbers show on 95.5 The Game from 7-8 p.m. with updates.
Prediction: The Timbers don't mess around and get a goal early and then add another to hold off their PDL foes. They want this badly to get rid of last year's embarrassment.