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US Open Cup 2016 Fourth Round Preview: 12 MLS teams in action on Wednesday

The 2016 edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has reached the 4th Round, and that means MLS teams are now in the fray.

With four matches already in the bag from Tuesday, here are the remaining 12 taking place on Wednesday:

Wednesday Match Previews

Columbus Crew SC

Tampa Bay Rowdies

Wednesday, June 15 - 7 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

While some clubs have the luxury of resting starters and testing their depth in the U.S. Open Cup, Columbus Crew SC’s match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies will instead be a test of who they have available.

Columbus have been battling injuries to Tony Tchani and Tyson Wahl and will be without Gaston Sauro for months. Harrison Afful, Emil Larsen, Cedrick Mabwati, Cristian Martinez and Rodrigo Saravia will all be returning from recent international duty.

Crew SC will likely put together a starting lineup that combines regular starters with youth, hoping to avoid additional injury at all costs before they face 10 Eastern Conference opponents in their next 11 MLS matches.

ANDREW KING | More on columbuscrewsc.com

Jacksonville Armada SC

Orlando City FC

Wednesday, June 15 - 7 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

With their city rocked by tragedy, Orlando City will return to the field on Wednesday, when they travel north to take on NASL club Jacksonville Armada FC.

It’ll no doubt be an emotional occasion for the Lions, many of whom took to social media to express their feelings and support for the victims of the mass shooting – the worst ever on US soil – that claimed the lives of 49 people at a nightclub early on Sunday morning.

Of course, they’ll have to take care of business on the field, where they’ll face an Armada side that finished second-to-last with a 1-5-4 record in the recently-completed NASL Spring Season. While Jacksonville struggled in league play, they do have a win under their belt in the Open Cup, knocking off USL club Charleston Battery 2-1 in extra time in the third round.

SAM STEJSKAL | More on orlandocitysc.com 

Philadelphia Union

Harrisburg City Islanders

Wednesday, June 15 - 7 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has boasted about his team’s improved depth throughout the season while mostly sticking with the same group of regulars.

That could change when the Union host the Harrisburg City Islanders – their former USL affiliate – in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at Talen Energy Stadium (7 pm ET).

“Previously I would say we probably only went 11, maybe 12 guys before we had some concern,” Curtin told MLSsoccer.com. “With this group, when you look at the second team and write it up on paper, it’s really strong. So there will be some guys called upon to step up in Open Cup games and also in our MLS games because I believe in them.”

Of course, even if the Union do follow the trend of sprinkling a few backups into their lineup in the early Open Cup games, they will still take the competition seriously as they look to return to the final for the third straight year, and this time hoist the trophy after two painful title-game losses.

“Everyone is motivated to do something good,” said winger Sebastien Le Toux, the U.S. Open Cup’s all-time scoring leader in the modern era. “I hope we can have a great run again.”

DAVE ZEITLIN | More on philadelphiaunion.com

Rochester Rhinos

New York Red Bulls

Wednesday, June 15 - 7:05 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

With USL champion Rochester holding a 25-game home win streak, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said, in an interview posted to NewYorkRedBulls.com, "This won't be easy, but it will be good," as New York intends to field a strong team in what they expect will be a "total battle" on the pitch.

The Red Bulls enter on a roll, 5-1-1 in their last seven MLS games, climbing to second in the Eastern Conference. Rochester, tied for 6th in the USL's Eastern table, enters 1-2-2 in their last five.

Calling it the "worst draw we could've gotten," Marsch espoused respect for the Rhinos athleticism, defense and organization, saying RBNY will combine "a lot of our regulars" alongside a few younger players the organization believes are deserving. The Rhinos – the only non-MLS franchise to raise the Open Cup since MLS began play in 1996 – won the only previous matchup between the teams, a 3-1 victory in the 2005 U.S. Open Cup.

BEN COUCH | More on newyorkredbulls.com 

Carolina Railhawks FC

New England Revolution

Wednesday, June 15 - 7:30 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

After a North Carolina club sent them to an early exit from the 2015 U.S. Open Cup, the New England Revolution are surely hoping traveling to Cary for the fourth round concludes with a more favorable result. Head coach Jay Heaps isn't underestimating the Carolina Railhawks: "They've got players who've played in MLS, played well in MLS, and are playing well for Carolina."

With an MLS-high seven draws, the Revs have yet to get fully on track, though they've alternated wins and losses in their last four, and sit eighth in the Eastern Conference (16 points). Carolina ranks seventh in the NASL's Spring Season table (14 points), and opened the season with four wins before a 1-4-2 stretch entering Wednesday's match.

Revolution reserve 'keeper Brad Knighton – named to the NASL Best XI for Carolina in 2011 – is expected to start, per RevolutionSoccer.net Senior Staff Writer and Editor Jeff Lemieux.

BEN COUCH | More on revolutionsoccer.net

D.C. United

Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Wednesday, June 15 - 7:30 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

Three-time Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champions D.C. United will enter the 2016 edition of the tournament when they welcome the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to the Maryland Soccerplex on Wednesday. Look for United head coach Ben Olsen to field a mix of regulars and reserves in the absence of Steve Birnbaum (international duty) and attackers Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko (injury). The Strikers are stocked with a pair of familiar faces – former United striker Maicon Santos, who’s enjoyed a productive spring season in the NASL, and Canadian defender Nana Attakora, who plied his trade in D.C. in 2014.

PABLO MAURER | More on dcunited.com

New York City FC

New York Cosmos

Wednesday, June 15 - 7:30 PM ET (TV: YES Network + FOX Sports GO)

If the second-ever meeting between New York City FC and the New York Cosmos is anything like the first one a year ago, expect fireworks at Fordham University’s Coffey Field on Wednesday for the U.S. Open Cup match between the budding rivals.

In the fourth round a year ago at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium, Kwadwo Poku struck for a brace, but the Cosmos rallied from an early two-goal deficit to equalize in the 90th minute before advancing on penalty kicks.

With an early afternoon league tilt against the Philadelphia Union on the horizon Saturday, expect a mixture of regular starters and reserves for NYCFC.

DYLAN BUTLER | More on nycfc.com

Minnesota United FC

Sporting Kansas City

Wednesday, June 15 - 8 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

It’ll be an I-35 clash at NSC Stadium when Minnesota United FC host defending U.S. Open Cup champion Sporting KC in a rematch of a 2014 USOC match that saw the MLS side leave it late before walking away with a 2-0 win at Children’s Mercy Park.

You’d have to go back five years further for the last time Sporting went on the road to face a lower-division team in the Open Cup, a 2009 game against the Minnesota Thunder that ended 3-3 before Kansas City advanced in a penalty shootout (4-2).

This time around, neither side enters the match on fine form. Sporting KC (5-8-3) started the 2016 MLS season with four wins in five games, but have lost seven of their last 11 games. Minnesota, meanwhile, were in first place and challenging for the NASL Spring Season title before three straight losses knocked them down the table.

Sporting KC is 13-5-3 all-time against lower-division teams in the Open Cup, and United head coach Carl Craig says Minnesota would love to add to the MLS side’s loss column to give the home fans a consolation prize after a disappointing end to the spring season.

"Hopefully a big crowd and an opportunity to regain a bit of favor with our fan base, because not only did we let ourselves down, but our fans have been brilliant and got behind us every game at home,” said United Head Coach Carl Craig. “We should have really presented them with a Spring Championship, we didn't, so hopefully a win is a small consolation and a slight repayment for not taking care of business.”

ANDREW WIEBE | More on sportingkc.com

FC Dallas

Oklahoma City Energy FC

Wednesday, June 15 - 8:30 PM ET

FC Dallas gets a rematch with the Oklahoma City Energy on Wednesday to open up their Open Cup play.

In last year’s affair, FCD were dominant from the get-go, with Colombian wingers Fabian Castillo and Michael Barrios wreaking havoc against the OKC outside backs. They ended up winning handily, 4-1, with both Barrios and then-reserve forward David Texeira notching braces.

It was a turning point for both attackers last season, and some of FCD’s youth could experience the same this go-round. Chris Seitz, a backup last season, started 2015 Open Cup matches for FCD, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jesse Gonzalez pick up the duties this season, giving him a chance to re-establish himself as a top ‘keeper in MLS.

It could also be an opportunity to see reserves who rarely see the field for FCD, including Timo Pitter, Homegrown defender Aaron Guillen, and preseason acquisition Carlos Lizarazo.

SCOTT SIDWAY | More on FCDallas.com

Houston Dynamo

San Antonio FC

Wednesday, June 15 - 8:30 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

The Houston Dynamo host San Antonio FC Wednesday night in the Dynamo’s first U.S. Open Cup match.

Under interim coach Wade Barrett, the Dynamo have earned two draws in MLS play, the latest a 1-1 result at FC Dallas on June 2. Houston will hope to give their interim coach his first win against an in-state rival.

The Dynamo haven't played since June 2, so there Barrett could field a strong lineup, but with the Orange returning back to MLS play Saturday, reserves such as defenders Jalil Anibaba and Sheanon Williams, midfielders David Rocha and Leonel Miranda and forward Mauro Manotas should be ready to go.

JEREMY RAKES | More on houstondynamo.com

Chicago Fire

Indy Eleven

Wednesday, June 15 - 8:30 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

On the back of what he has called a “mini-preseason,” Veljko Paunovic believes the Chicago Fire are in the right frame of mind and body to handle the relative unknown quantity of Indy Eleven.

The Fire players enjoyed a week off following their 1-1 tie with Portland on May 28, but the focus now turns to the NASL Spring Season champions, whose squad includes former Fire players Jon Busch and Lovel Palmer.

“We want to do our best to win this cup and we will do everything in order to do well and compete,” Paunovic said. “We [have been] taking this week as a mini-preseason in order to prepare for the game.”

SHANE MURRAY | More on chicago-fire.com

Seattle Sounders FC

Kitsap Pumas

Wednesday, June 15 - 10:30 PM ET (LIVESTREAM)

Coming off their infamous, red card-riddled defeat to the Portland Timbers last season, the Seattle Sounders make their return to U.S. Open Cup action on Wednesday, taking on the PDL’s Kitsap Pumas in a fourth-round fixture at Starfire Soccer Complex.

Expect youth to be a theme throughout the tournament, especially without the services of a suspended Clint Dempsey. Homegrowns Aaron Kovar and Darwin Jones are candidates for minutes up top. Rookie center back Tony Alfaro has held his own in limited action with Seattle’s first team this season and could be a young face for Sounders coach Sigi Schmid to plug into his backline.

ARI LILJENWALL | More on soundersfc.com

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