While many MLS NEXT Pro clubs enter a busy week of training, both Rochester New York FC and St Louis CITY2 head into U.S. Open Cup action with hopes of advancing to the fourth round of the historic tournament.
Both MLS NEXT Pro clubs will face off against USL opposition this week, with St Louis CITY2 coming off short rest following a 1-0 league victory over Sporting KC II on Saturday. John Hackworth will face off against his former club after spending four seasons as head coach of Louisville City and lifting the USL Cup in 2018.
CITY2 remains unbeaten through four official matches in all competitions. Still, it could have its toughest test yet against Louisville City FC at Lynn Family Stadium this Wednesday.
The other MLS NEXT Pro representative, RNY FC, will hope to advance in the U.S. Open Cup and help spark a better run of form in league play. Bruno Baltazar’s side has yet to taste victory in MLS NEXT Pro action through their opening three matches but advanced past Lansdowne Bhoys FC in the second round of Open Cup action.
USL League Two side FC Motown makes the trip to New York this week, aiming to hand Rochester New York FC its third defeat through five matches across all competitions. Michael Bello, Ryan Peterson, and Federico Oliviera headline the offensive weapons for FC Motown.
Here is a closer look at this week’s U.S. Open Cup action:
RNY FC vs. FC Motown - Wednesday, 6 p.m. ET
RNY FC seeks a second-consecutive victory in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday ahead of their inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season home-opener this Saturday versus in-state rivals NYCFC II.
Bruno Baltazar’s squad defeated Lansdowne Bhoys 1-0 in the second round back on April 7, using a first-half finish from Gibran Rayo to advance into this week’s fourth round. Rochester New York FC has been outscored 5-1 in league play through three matches but did register its first clean sheet in a 6-5 shootout victory over Chicago Fire FC II on April 10.
Four players have played every minute of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season so far, with Lamar Batista, Bubacar Diajo, and Milan Vanacker headlining the leaders of the group. Wilterlynd Inalien leads the team with five shots on goal, while Dante Briguda has scored the club’s only league goal of the season.
FC Motown has scored both of its U.S. Open Cup goals in the 90th minute or later, making it a tough side to break down through its opening two matches in the competition. Ryan Peterson and Federico de Oliviera have delivered goals for the USL League Two side. In contrast, FC Motown has yet to concede a goal in 210 minutes of action.
Louisville City FC vs. St. Louis CITY2 - Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
St Louis CITY2 has found early success this inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. They are riding a four-match unbeaten run across all competitions coming into Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup trip to Louisville City FC.
John Hackworth served as head coach of Louisville City FC from 2018 to 2021, leading the USL Championship side to a league title in his first season there. The former Philadelphia Union head coach and U.S. men’s national team assistant joined CITY2 earlier this year, taking on a new challenge in his career.
STL CITY2 has rolled to four victories under Hackworth so far, pitching three clean sheets and eliminating USL Championship club Indy Eleven by a 2-0 scoreline in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup back on April 5. Seven different players have scored goals this season, with Wan Kuzain and Akil Watts contributing two apiece.
19-year-old goalkeeper Eric Walker has only conceded three goals in MLS NEXT Pro action while posting one clean sheet and a 1.27 goals-against average.
Louisville City has yet to suffer defeat in the new USL season, riding an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Defensively, Danny Cruz’s side has only conceded four goals this season, with Wesley Charpie, Manny Perez, and Amadou Dia excelling in the backline.
Forwards Wilson Harris and Brian Ownby have combined for seven goals in league play and will be a formidable 1-2 duo for STL CITY2 to stop.