Well, it's that time of year again. The days are starting to get longer and hotter, summer is speeding towards us, and US Open Cup play is upon us once more. Granted, it's not the most illustrious trophy the Houston Dynamo will have a chance to play for this season, but it still counts as silverware.
It's a piece of silverware that, to speak frankly, the Dynamo have never come close to winning. While the competition is open to 68 sides from varying levels of American soccer, since the inception of MLS in 1996, only one side outside of the league has managed to claim the Cup - in 1999 the Rochester Raging Rhinos, at the time a second tier side, managed to knock off four MLS sides en route to a cup victory.
Despite the league's dominance in the tournament, it's often said that many MLS sides don't really bother trying, as a mid-season tournament often takes focus away from the pursuit of the Supporters Shield and/or the MLS Cup. While this may or may not be a fair point, the Dynamo's 5-6-1 record (largely inflated by semifinal runs made in 2006 and 2009) shows that whether or not the Dynamo take it seriously, they haven't always gotten then best possible results. Last season was a classic example, as they played a single match in the tournament - losing 1-0 to the San Antonio Scorpions of the North American Soccer League (2nd tier) in San Antonio.
On paper, this should be an easy match. The Dynamo will host PDL side (4th tier) FC Tuscon Wednesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo played a few matches in the preseason Desert Friendlies that FC Tuscon held, though the two sides didn't meet at the time. That being said, this match may still pose a challenge to the Dynamo - if they decide that the Open Cup is something they'd like to pursue.
Like the group states of the CCL, the Dynamo normally use mostly reserve players in the Open Cup, so as not to overtax their starters. But with several starters reporting for international duty (Brad Davis, Jermaine Taylor and Oscar Boniek Garcia) and others injured (Corey Ashe), some of the reserves may find themselves doing double duty this week - especially if coach Dom Kinnear wants to utilize players who have been here before.
As you all know by now, I generally don't do predictions of scores or lineups - and I really won't attempt to do so for this match, where every player on the roster could find himself in the XI come Wednesday. While no official word has come down yet, there's a good chance that this match will be streamed live in some form or another, so keep checking back. At this point, all that remains is to wish the Dynamo the best of luck.