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The Journey to the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Begins Tonight

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COMMERCE CITY, CO - MARCH 19: Head Coach John Spencer of the Portland Timbers  directs his team against the Colorado Rapids  at Dicks Sporting Goods Park on March 19, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado.  (Photo by Michael Martin/Getty Images)
COMMERCE CITY, CO - MARCH 19: Head Coach John Spencer of the Portland Timbers directs his team against the Colorado Rapids at Dicks Sporting Goods Park on March 19, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: If you want to watch even more soccer tonight you can at www.portlandtimbers.com Feel free to comment here as a gamethread.

The Seattle Sounders are defending US Open Cup champions twice over, and in both of their winning campaigns the road to the Cup went through the Portland Timbers. Unfortunately, this season the Sounders may not have a chance to meet up with their lucky charms.

For as far back as I wanted to research (at least 5 years) the Timbers have qualified automatically for the Cup as a USL-1 — or more recently a USSF D-2 — club. Because these divisions have been smaller in recent years, all of the US-based clubs have been given direct entry into the Cup bracket. But in one of the many perverse quirks of US soccer, now that they've been promoted to a higher division their chances of making the Cup tournament have gone down. They will have to win three matches against MLS competition to be one of the two US MLS teams to emerge from the field of 10 non-automatic qualifiers to get a chance to face some lower division clubs in the bracket proper.

That effort begins tonight when they host Chivas USA at the University of Portland's Merlo Field and the match will be live streamed on the Timbers' official site.

Regardless of your feelings about the Timbers franchise, you have to acknowledge that the Sounders have a good record when they get a chance to face their Cascadia rivals and tonight may determine whether we get that chance again.