COMMERCE CITY, CO - MAY 26: Goalkeeper Matt Pickens #18 of the Colorado Rapids dives to make a save against the Montreal Impact at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on May 26, 2012 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated the Impact 3-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Colorado Rapids will face the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL in Open Cup play on Tuesday.
There's plenty of debate as to how important the US Open Cup is or if most teams actually care much about the competition other than the Seattle Sounders and a few others, but it's undeniable that getting a CONCACAF Champions League spot is a big boost to any club in MLS.
In the 99th season of Open Cup play, the Colorado Rapids will begin with their first game on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL -- the second tier of soccer in the United States. The Rapids took a traveling roster including most of their starters -- of course, their starters are still filled with back ups with all the injuries the team is facing -- which shows a difference in how seriously the Rapids are taking the competition compared to recent years.
Under Gary Smith, the Rapids never advanced into the tournament proper under the old format that featured MLS teams getting in via knockout rounds. Now under the new 'every MLS team is in' format, the Rowdies will present their first chance at getting an Open Cup win since 2007. The Rapids made the tournament's final in 1999 but fell to the Rochester Raging Rhinos, making them the only team to have lost to an NASL or lower squad in the final in the pro era.
The winner of Tuesday's game will go on to face either Sporting Kansas City or Orlando City SC on the road, depending on the result of their game.
For more on the Colorado Rapids, head over to Burgundy Wave.