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.