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2013 U.S. Open Cup: Sounders will open against Florida lower-division team

The Sounders will either visit the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies or host the USL-Pro's VSI Tampa Bay.

Otto Greule Jr

The Seattle Sounders' road to a fifth straight U.S. Open Cup final will start against a Florida-based minor league team, as they will play the winner of the second-round match between the Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) and VSI Tampa Bay (USL-Pro). The Sounders would host VSI Tampa Bay and go on the road against the Rowdies. The third-round game is scheduled for May 29, three days after they visit the LA Galaxy.

The Rowdies received a bye into the second round, as did the other participating NASL teams, while the VSI Tampa Bay had to beat the Orland City U23 team in a penalty shootout. Their match will be played at Plant City Stadium in Plant City, Fla. on May 21.

The Sounders have gone 4-0-1 against lower-division opponents since they joined MLS in 2009. Last season, they beat their two lower-division opponents by a combined score of 10-1.

If they were to have to travel to Tampa, that would be the first time they've had to play a road game on the East Coast since winning at D.C. United in the 2009 final. They were scheduled to play on the road against the Atlanta Silverbacks last season, but were able to buy home-field advantage. There would be no such opportunity this year, as teams are no longer allowed to sell those rights.

If the Sounders can advance to the final of the 100th U.S. Open Cup, they'll become just the third team in history to advance to five straight finals. Bethlehem Steel went to five straight (1915-19), while Stix, Baer and Fuller F.C. went to six straight (1932-37).

The Sounders U-23 team, fresh off their first-round victory, will play their second-round game at the USL-Pro's Charlotte Eagles on May 21. They would visit the Chicago Fire in the third round.

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