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US Open Cup first round preview: Detroit City vs. Michigan highlights close-proximity matches

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There are plenty of big-time matches on the “minnows” docket for tonight’s U.S. Open Cup first round.

The tournament is especially interesting at this time of year because the NPSL and PDL sides have to contend not only with each other but with USASA and USSSA sides that have played together much longer as opposed to talented college kids getting to know each other outside of the NCAA window.

This round also tends to keep close proximity at the forefront. It doesn’t make sense for the competition to send Lansing United down to face the Laredo Heat, as it could crush the team’s budget.

[ MORE: Detroit City gets 3,000 for NPSL match ]

So we get juicy match-ups like the PDL’s Michigan Bucks against the NPSL’s Detroit City FC. One club a newer power with a fervent-if-profane fan base against a well-established Open Cup contender trying to lay claim to Detroit as its home and as a future pro side. Sign us up.

DCFC fans hate that Bucks claim fan supremacy despite the Cass Tech crowds dictating otherwise. The Bucks prod at DCFC’s fans by calling them newboys. It’s going to be a dynamite night, and the winner gets to host Timbers 2 of USL, which would be a huge boon to either club.

Then there’s Cal FC, the darlings of the 2012 tournament. The then-Eric Wynalda-coached club surprised Wilmington Hammerheads and Portland Timbers in the tournament. The USASA entry has to get past strong PDL side Ventura County Fusion to get a shot at LA Galaxy II.

There’s plenty more. Monitor the intrigue tonight, as the path to the 102nd USOC title is trod.

Fort Pitt Regiment (NPSL) at West Virginia Chaos (PDL) – 7:00 pm ET
GBFC Thunder (NPSL) at Western Mass Pioneers (PDL) – 7:00 pm ET
RWB Adria (USASA) at Lansing United (NPSL) – 7:00 pm ET
Triangle Brigade (USASA) at Upward Stars (NPSL) – 7:00 pm ET
SW Florida Adrenaline (PDL) at Miami United (NPSL) – 7:00 pm ET
Virginia Beach City FC (NPSL) at AC Connecticut (PDL) – 7:00 pm ET
Maryland Bays (USASA) at Reading United – 7:00 pm ET
Ocala Stampede (PDL) at Chattanooga Football Club (NPSL) – 7:30 pm ET
Brooklyn Italians (NPSL) at Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) – 7:30 pm ET
Detroit City FC (NPSL) at Michigan Bucks (PDL) – 7:30 pm ET
NY Greek American SC (USASA) at Jersey Express (PDL) – 8:00 pm ET
Seacoast United Phantoms (PDL) at GPS Mass (USASA) – 8:00 pm ET
Madison Fire Soccer Club (USASA) at Des Moines Menace (PDL) – 8:30 pm ET
Tulsa Athletics (NPSL) at Midland/Odessa Sockers (PDL) – 8:30 pm ET
NTX Rayados Academy (USASA) at Laredo Heat (PDL) – 9:15 pm ET
Harpo’s FC (USASA) at BYU Cougars men’s soccer (PDL) – 9:30 pm ET
Kitsap Pumas SC (PDL) at FC Tacoma 253 (NPSL) – 10:00 pm ET
Cal FC (USASA) at Ventura County Fusion (PDL) – 10:00 pm ET
Burlingame Dragons (PDL) at Sonoma County Sol (NPSL) – 10:00 pm ET
Golden State Misioneros (PDL) at PSA Elite (USASA) – 10:00 pm ET
Chula Vista Futbol Club (USASA) at FC Tucson (PDL) – 10:30 pm ET

U.S. Open Cup preparation: While Portland’s Porter expects a win, Galaxy’s Arena is staying home

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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.