Night of U.S. Open Cup carnage sees Galaxy, six other MLS teams out of competition


It’s hard to imagine Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cub action being any tougher on Major League Soccer’s teams. Fourteen of U.S. Soccer’s first division sides were in action. Only seven advanced to the fourth round. While I guess it’s theoretically possible fewer MLS teams could have advanced to the Round of 16, nobody was expecting to see this much carnage.

The most prominent dismissal saw LA Galaxy, now winless in nine games, lose in Cary, North Carolina to the Carolina Railhawks. This, however, may have been the least surprising upset of the night. Los Angeles has not been most enthusiastic team as it concerns extra-MLS competition, so it’s little surprise they started a second-string squad on Tuesday.. Without Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, and David Beckham, the Galaxy were seen out by the second division Carolina Railhawks, 2-1.

Maybe the Railhawks are some kind of super second division side, you might ask. Yeah, about that: Carolina is winless in nine NASL matches this season, though they did finish first in last year’s regular season.In that way, they’re kinda the Galaxy of NASL.

Apparently that was enough to dismiss the defending MLS champions, who sent out a B-squad that was captained by … (wait for it) … Pat Noonan.

It was just one of the early upsets in what was ultimately a ridiculous night of U.S. Open Cup action. I don’t mean ridiculous as in “MLS teams should never lose to lower division sides.” That, after all, is part of the magic of cup competitions. I mean ridiculous in terms of “My God, this isn’t the best way to roll out a new U.S. Open Cup: By seeing a bulk of MLS’s entrants give this a ‘meh’.”

But did they give it a “meh”?

  • LA sent out a B-team and lost, but …
  • New England went out on kicks to Harrisburg (3-3 a.e.t) despite playing a number of regulars,
  • Chicago rested most of its stars in losing 3-2 to PDL side Michigan Bucks,
  • A largely changed Houston side fell 1-0 to the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions,
  • FC Dallas played a number of first choice players but was still lost 2-0 at home to USL PRO’s Charlotte Eagle,
  • An RSL defense that featured Jamison Olave gave up three goals at home to the Minnesota Stars, losing 3-1,
  • And then there’s Columbus, who failed to hold a 1-0 lead against a Dayton Dutch Lions team that is winless in eight USL PRO (third division matches), losing 2-1.

And some people wonder why the U.S. Open Cup has failed to gain traction. One or two shock results are charming. Seven surprised hints the competition is not being taken seriously. After all, if 10 Premier League sides bowed out of the FA Cup 90 minutes after taking the field, would you think “What an amazing competition” or “What’s going on here?”

No matter what’s going on, the second and third division sides who sprung upsets deserve credit. They’ve advanced to the final 16, and given the bracket, at least two lower division teams (second, or lower) will make the final eight.

Injuries leave host Russia limping ahead of World Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) With less than three months to go until the World Cup in Russia, the host nation’s players are dropping like flies.

A spate of knee injuries this year has left the Russians hurrying to find cover at the back and trying to replace a key attacking threat.

[ MORE: Zlatan leaves Man Utd ]

First, center back Georgy Dzhikiya tore his knee ligaments during a friendly in January. The same happened to Viktor Vasin a month later. Russia’s defense was already thin, so those injuries prompted calls for the 35-year-old Berezutsky twins, Alexei and Vasily, to return from international retirement. They refused to do so.

Now coach Stanislav Cherchesov must also seek a replacement for Zenit St. Petersburg forward Alexander Kokorin, who tore his knee ligaments in the Europa League last week. That puts more responsibility on the shoulders of Fyodor Smolov, now likely to be Russia’s undisputed first-choice striker for the World Cup.

“We’re not complaining about anything,” Cherchesov said Thursday. “Fate is often testing us in various ways but we always try to be ready.”

The injuries mean Cherchesov will be forced to experiment during Friday’s friendly against Brazil and Tuesday’s game against France, both at home. Short-term medical issues have ruled three more fringe players out of those games.

Here’s a closer look at the issues facing Russia ahead of the World Cup:


If you had to pick one Russian striker for the World Cup, it might as well be Fyodor Smolov.

On track to be the Russian league’s top scorer for the third season in a row, Smolov has been working on his English skills as he eyes a move to the Premier League.

Smolov was linked with West Ham during the January transfer window but opted to stay with FC Krasnodar, saying he didn’t want to abandon his team as it battles for a spot in the Champions League next season.

With Kokorin almost certainly out of the picture for the World Cup, Russia’s backup options include Anton Zabolotny, who is still settling in at Zenit after a recent move from newly promoted FC Tosno. The 22-year-old Alexei Miranchuk can play as a forward, but is better in a deeper role.


Russian players tend to stay in their domestic league, but there’s one big exception in midfield – Denis Cheryshev.

The winger came through the Real Madrid youth system when his father was coaching there and is now at Villarreal, but frequent injuries have dented hopes he can add some spice to the national team.

Now he’s fit again and in the squad to face Brazil and France.

Elsewhere in the midfield, there are the promising and creative youngsters Roman Zobnin and Alexander Golovin, but Russia doesn’t currently have a dominant defensive midfielder.


Cherchesov has a reputation as a difficult coach to get along with, and Russian media have regularly reported fallings-out with various players.

One of those outside the squad is Igor Denisov, who last played for Russia in 2016. He has been playing well in a defensive midfield role this season for Lokomotiv Moscow, the team at the top of the Russian league standings. Denisov and Cherchesov clashed during the latter’s time as Dynamo Moscow coach.

Also absent from the squad is forward Artyom Dzyuba. A talented striker who has scored 11 goals in 22 games for Russia but has a reputation for being hot-headed, Dzyuba was deemed surplus to requirements at Zenit and sent on loan to Arsenal Tula. In three games there, he has scored three goals and set up two more to put himself back in the World Cup contention.


Russia’s soccer team hasn’t escaped the country’s doping scandals.

Defensive midfielder Ruslan Kambolov is under investigation by FIFA for a possible doping case revealed by Moscow laboratory documents, but hasn’t been suspended.

The team’s schedule was disrupted Wednesday by drug-testing, which took more than five hours and delayed training. On Thursday, the team said five more doping control officers turned up to take samples from the team.

Wilshere injured, could play in England’s second friendly

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I have no idea what tendinopathy means, but Arsenal and England will be hoping it’s only a minor thing for Jack Wilshere.

[ MORE: Zlatan leaves Man Utd ]

The resurgent Gunners midfielder is going to miss at least one of England’s friendlies this international break after suffering a knee injury in training.

“Jack just felt some tendinopathy in his knee but it’s nothing too serious,” Southgate said. “We decided to leave him back at base and see how he responds, and we hope to have him with us on Saturday.”

England is in Netherlands on Friday, and returns to London to host Italy at Wembley on Tuesday.

Arsenal doesn’t play until April 1 when it visits Stoke City.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

[ MORE: MLS All Stars vs. Juventus ]

The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.