Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Open Cup - Home & Away

We all know that the Open Cup matchups are not a random draw like the FA Cup. Teams are matched together by region, and deciding who hosts is based on which teams bid for it. It's hard not to notice how some teams always seem to play at home or away. For example, DC United has hosted every Open Cup match they've played in 2008 and 2009 so far. They'll also host the semifinal against Rochester.

It's obvious that everyone would like to see a random draw implemented eventually, but it doesn't make financial sense (especially for the lower league teams) right now. That's not what this post is about. Instead, I thought it would be interesting to see how many Open Cup winners have played more away games than home games en route to the title.

The answer? Since 1996, it's happened only once. That would be the 1997 Dallas Burn, who played three away games and won the championship at a neutral site.

Right now, Houston has won twice away at Austin and Charleston. They're scheduled to play at Seattle in the semis, so they would join the 1997 Burn if they go on to win the whole thing.

I would expect DC not to get the final at home if they make it again. It would be too unfair to have the same team host it twice in a row. That hasn't happened so far in MLS history despite two chances; Columbus hosted instead of LA in 2002, and Chicago hosted LA in 2006.

Seattle is the obvious choice to host the final if they make it that far with the crowds they've been getting. Houston would likely host against DC (no college conflict, and United play in Dallas a few days later), while the Dynamo against the Rhinos would be up in the air. I'd imagine Houston would probably get to host that matchup too, given the good crowds they've got for important playoff games in the past and the previously mentioned run of away games.

Open Cup Winners - Home/Away/Neutral Breakdown

1996 DC United 2-1
1997 Dallas 0-3-1
1998 Chicago 1-1-2
1999 Rochester 3-0-2
2000 Chicago 3-2
2001 Los Angeles 4-1
2002 Columbus 3-1
2003 Chicago 2-2
2004 Kansas City 3-1
2005 Los Angeles 3-1
2006 Chicago 4-0
2007 New England 2-2
2008 DC United 4-0


The Fire played away matches against the Chicago Stingers/Sockers (same team, just changed the name) in 1998 and 2000, at Forest View Park. Now the Fire did play a US Open Cup match against another team there in 2000, but that was the regular stadium of the Stingers/Sockers so I think officially it was an away match.

The 1997 & 1999 finals were hosted by neutral sites. Teams that have hosted the final are 9-2, the only losses were in 2003 (New York) and 2007 (Dallas).

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