Minnesota United will play another game before it takes a break for the World Cup, and it will be a chance at U.S. Open Cup redemption.
But that will not be happening at home.
The Loons will play United Soccer League team FC Cincinnati in the fourth round of the tournament, which pits all levels of soccer in the U.S. against each other. When the matchup was announced Thursday during a livestream, United, who U.S. Soccer had said applied for hosting rights, won a home game set to take place either June 5 or 6 at TCF Bank Stadium.
U.S. Soccer made a clerical error, though, as United never applied to host the game because a venue was not available. So the game will instead take place 6:30 p.m. June 6 at Nippert Stadium.
"After being drawn to host FC Cincinnati in the Fourth Round, Minnesota United FC confirmed to the tournament organizers this afternoon that the club had only applied to host its possible round of 16 and quarterfinal matches over the next three rounds. The team had not applied to host its Fourth Round game due to the lack of a suitable venue on the scheduled date," read a statement from U.S. Soccer. "After reviewing the original paperwork, U.S. Soccer concurred. As a result, the 2017 Open Cup semifinalists will now stage the game at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati."
(While technically according to drawing rules for the matchups, I think this would mean United should be the away team at the Columbus Crew with Cincinnati hosting the Chicago Fire? But this whole thing was messed up so at this point, does it really matter?)
United faced MLS rival Sporting Kansas City in last year's tournament and lost an embarrassing 4-0 at Children's Mercy Park. Coach Adrian Heath decided to keep his focus on the league and fielded a largely reserve lineup to Kansas City's full strength one, and it did not end well for the squad.
Those rivals, who not only faced each other many times in the league regular season but also have an Open Cup history from when United played in the North American Soccer League, could potentially see each other in the next round if both win their matchups.
Despite Cincinnati being a second-division team, it won't be an easy opponent for the Loons. The team made a run all the way to the semifinals of 2017's tournament The club is also reportedly expected to be another MLS expansion team in the near future.
Here's a random thing I wrote on FC Cincinnati back when I covered the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Anyhow, even if there's not a Open Cup game, there will be a mid-summer friendly at TCF Bank Stadium, like how United hosted Atlas last season on July 15.
Some other notes from practice Thursday at the National Sports Center:
The Loons trained on their new grass fields for the first time, so that was something. Looked like the only person who was missing was outside back Jerome Thiesson, who is dealing with a groin injury that Heath deemed not too serious on Tuesday. But Heath said he did expect Thiesson to be back training Thursday, which proved untrue. So if Thiesson isn't fit to play 7 p.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium against the Montreal Impact, right back Tyrone Mears, who hasn't played since March 31, is fully recovered from his calf/Achilles injury. So he would likely slot in there while Eric Miller would slide to left back.
Goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who is dealing with a knee injury, chilled on the sidelines while long-term injured Marc Burch and Ethan Finlay worked separately.
Lampson said he dislocated his fibula in his right knee while training on the indoor turf. He said the main issue with the injury now is a painful bone bruise that he has to see if he can play through, and he'd like to with a return to his home state of Ohio coming up in the Open Cup. Lampson actually played in the Chicago Fire's penalty kicks loss to Cincinnati last season and is eager to play back at Nippert Stadium in front of a big crowd. But if he doesn't play there, he could have the entire World Cup break to fully recover.
There's also two guys still training with the team, one being Johan DePicker, whom I've mentioned before. The new goalkeeper is Lucas Rezende, who just finished his senior season at Merrimack College. He's 6-1, 185 pounds from Weymouth, Mass. He was an All-American his senior season and named his conference's goalkeeper of the year.
Watch below for Heath's comments on the grass and U.S. Open Cup game.