Behind a Jeremy Rafanello brace in the opening 21 minutes, Reading United AC moved past Philadelphia Lone Star 2-1 in the opening round of the tournament and into the Second Round for an eighth successive season. If United is going to advance further, however, it will have to defeat two-time USL Cup-winner Louisville City FC, which has recently rounded into form with victories in three out of its last four league outings, scoring eight goals in the process. Reading has kicked off its regular season well, scoring five in its opening 5-2 victory against Cedar Stars Rush this weekend as Simon Becher scored twice, but it will need a big performance to knock off one of the Championship’s perennial powers.
The New York Red Bulls U23 played out a thrilling goal-fest with Motown FC last week in a game that ended 4-4 after 120 minutes before the Red Bulls U23 claimed a 5-3 victory in the penalty shootout to advance. With their high-pressing style and numerous Red Bulls Academy graduates, the Red Bulls U23 could have a chance on the road against expansion Championship side 901 FC, which has still yet to win on home turf at AutoZone Park this season. Memphis did take victory in its last outing, however, with a 2-1 win against Hartford Athletic last Friday night that earned its second win overall this season.
The Des Moines Menace faces stiff competition in Saint Louis FC, which currently sits third in the Championship’s Eastern Conference after suffering only one loss all season. The Menace made it through to the Second Round after a 3-1 penalty shootout victory against Duluth FC in the opening round, and are also coming off a League Two opener that saw them earn a 2-0 win against Green Bay Voyageurs FC, but this year’s Des Moines side will be looking for revenge after Saint Louis claimed victory in a penalty shootout when the teams last met in this competition in 2015.