While you were watching the World Cup, U.S. Open Cup moved on
Arizona United scheduled to take on LA Galaxy
The U.S. Open Cup, which often struggles for respect from soccer fans, press and even occasionally teams, has the misfortune this year of starting its most exciting phase just as the World Cup gets underway.
The national tournament, which includes teams from all levels of men’s soccer in the United States, entered the fourth round June 11. This round is the first one to include teams from Major League Soccer, and it started well for MLS teams. The Houston Dynamo, which knocked FC Tucson out of the 2013 tournament, defeated the PDL’s Laredo Heat and San Jose Earthquakes dispatched USL-Pro’s Sacramento Republic FC.
It’s after that that MLS teams started to struggle. In three matches this weekend, Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA and New York Red Bulls all were knocked out of the tournament by lower division teams.
Tuesday night’s games worked out better for MLS, with lower division teams only winning one of the five matches. That match had 1999 Open Cup champ Rochester Rhinos, the last lower division team to win the tournament, take out defending champions DC United. Even with the success of MLS teams, Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew both had to take their games into overtime to beat their minor league opponents.
Wednesday night features the final five matches of the round, and it includes Arizona United SC taking on the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Arizona United SC is understandably thrilled to take on the four-time MLS Cup champions.
"It’s an honor to be hosting Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy on Wednesday night," said Arizona United SC owner Kyle Eng in a statement this week. "We are the first team in the Arizona's history to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup and we wanted to share this historic event with every fan in the state."
FC Tucson fans are quick to point out that Arizona United didn’t have to play in the first round, and some restructuring of the tournament means that MLS teams enter a bit later than when FC Tucson played. FC Tucson played in the first three rounds of the tournament in 2013 before their 2–0 loss to the Dynamo.
Does Arizona United stand a chance? The Galaxy are two time winners of the US Open Cup (2001 and 2005), but as of late, they haven’t taken the tournament very seriously. They have not won a match in the tournament since a 2–1 win over the Los Angeles Blues (now known as the Orange County Blues) in 2011. The last two years have featured lineups of bench players and defeats by the same NASL team, the Carolina RailHawks.
How seriously is the Galaxy taking the tournament this year? The headline on their website refers to the Open Cup matchup as a “break” and the team didn’t even bid to host the match, giving United a chance to have a home match in the tournament.
So yes, I’m saying there is a chance.
So far, United have beaten PDL side Portland Timbers U-23 and USL-Pro team Oklahoma City Energy FC with Kadeem Dacres and Jon Okafor each getting a goal and an assist in those matches.
Arizona United takes on the LA Galaxy on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Peoria Sports Complex. The match will also be streamed on ArizonaUnited.com. The winner of the game moves on to the next round to play the Galaxy’s Open Cup Bête Noire, the Carolina RailHawks.