PORTLAND, Ore. — They sound like famous last words, but give Caleb Porter credit: He’s not being ambiguous about his commitment to U.S. Open Cup. He’s practically guaranteeing a win tonight against their third-division guests, saying an upset like those seen on Tuesday will not happen on “our watch.”
At the other end of the spectrum, the LA Galaxy appear to not only be up to their old ways; their actually upping their level of ambivalence toward the competition.
Let’s start in Cary, N.C., where Curt Onalfo, LA’s reserve team coach, will be running the show tonight against the Carolina RailHawks.
You read that right. Bruce Arena elected to stay in Southern California, practically thumbing his nose at a cross-country assignment he was none too pleased about drawing. Associate head coach Dave Sarachan also remained in California as the team prepares for a Sunday match against New England (and seriously: Why do the Galaxy always play on Sunday?).
According to Galaxy reporter Adam Serrano, “the team that will take on RailHawks is much like those Reserve League squads” Onalfo’s used to coaching.
Boy, the Galaxy sure are taking this competition seriously, right?
As we talked about in the previous post, there are legitimate reasons for teams to rotate their squad. Cross-country trip, short turnaround, lower-division opposition – LA’s match has it all. It’s hard to blame them for leaning on a deep and talented group of kids to get them through this round.
At the same time, Bruce Arena couldn’t at least make an appearance? Well, the next time you hear somebody say Arena doesn’t care about these competitions, you can counter Galaxy’s Champions League semifinal appearance with this U.S.O.C. nugget. Then you can backtrack through a history that includes a U.S. Open Cup triumph (1996) along with a somewhat embarrassing Champions League exit in 2012 to a Toronto FC team that went on to set an MLS record for season-starting futility.
Contrast Arena’s approach with Caleb Porter’s, who said a San Jose/Colorado-esque upset tonight at JELD-WEN is “not going to happen on our watch.”
It’s big talk from a man coaching a Portland Timber team that lost to amateur club Cal FC in last year’s Open Cup. Not that anybody’s confusing these Timbers with John Spencer’s lot.
Porter’s still going to rotate his team. He’s said he’ll select starters but mitigated that by saying he has up to 16 starting-caliber players in his squad.
Regardless, the expectation is there in Portland, who face USL PRO’s Wilmington Hammerheads tonight. Porter’s putting himself front-and-center, ready to hold his team accountable.
Bruce Arena? The exact opposite.