Seattle Sounders FC v Sporting Kansas City

MLS teams begin Open Cup run. Upset alert.

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Tonight is the night.

Now the big boys from Major League Soccer are rolling in.

Time for some giant killing.

I have professed my love for the U.S. Open Cup plenty of times in this very blog, so there should be no surprise that I have an extra spring in my step this morning.

Round 3 of the Lamar Hunt Open Cup kicks off tonight, with nine MLS teams entering the tournament. Some big upsets are on the cards, but surely not as many as last season. Right?

Here is a look at the games involving MLS sides, home sides listed first: 

Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

Philadelphia Union vs. Ocean City Nor’easters

LA Blues vs. Chivas USA

Rochester Rhinos vs. New England Revolution

Sporting Kansas City vs. Des Moines Menace

Charleston Battery vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Richmond Kickers vs. D.C. United

Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. FC Dallas

So where do you see the potential upsets folks? Personally I can see quite a few glaring ones. Plenty of NASL and USL Pro sides will be licking their lips in anticipation.

First of all, despite the Colorado Rapids recent great form in MLS, they have to travel all the way down to Orlando midweek against a free scoring Orlando City side who have something to prove as they continue to stake their claim as a potential MLS franchise. This one is a big banana skin for Oscar Pareja’s men.

(More: Can lower-tier teams still go far in the Open Cup?)

Then looking at the struggling MLS sides Chivas USA and D.C. United, they both face tricky away ties at LA Blues and Richmond Kickers respectively. Both could tumble out, with their main focus turning around their woeful MLS campaigns.

Can the Charleston Battery down San Jose? I’m not so sure. But that is a pretty huge road trip for the ‘Quakes and they haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders of late. That one could go to extra time and maybe penalties.

Elsewhere I think RSL will dispatch the Atlanta Silverbacks quite comfortably. This week Jason Kreis has reminded his players of their third round exit to the Minnesota Stars last year. He called it “the worst day in the history of the club” and certainly won’t want a repeat of that.

(More: Open Cup Fourth Round draw, what it means for your MLS team)

Are the Ocean City Nor’easters the new Cal FC? Who knows. The New Jersey side already caused a big upset by knocking off Pittsburgh in Round 2, who says they can’t clean out Pennsylvania?

Surely defending champs Sporting KC won’t lose at home to the Des Moines Menace? Who knows. That is the beauty of the beautiful game.

One thing is for sure, make sure you follow all the Open Cup scores this evening. Use the hashtag #USOC100 to get all the latest scores on Twitter.

This Centennial edition of the Open Cup is sure to be one to remember.

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

NYCFC
New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.