Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

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

Open Cup final preview: Is a championship coming to Philly tonight?

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This one’s for all the marbles.

The Seattle Sounders will hope to win their fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final since 2009, in turn denying the Philadelphia Union their first ever crown when the two sides tangle at PPL Park tonight (730pm ET, Gol TV).

Both teams are in fine form, with Philadelphia boasting a 3W-1T record in its last four matches and Seattle winners of fourth-straight since a Aug. 20 tie against San Jose.

[ MORE: Le Toux hopes to win 2nd title by defeating old club ]

The Sounders took a tough path to the final, having to beat MLS sides San Jose, Portland and Chicago after blasting USASA entrant PSA Elite in the fourth round.

The Union’s road meant just two MLS opponents, Dallas and New England, after beating the New York Cosmos of the NASL and the Harrisburg City Islanders of USL PRO.

Philadelphia and Seattle met on May 3 in Washington, with the Sounders triumphing with a 2-1 score line. The last time the two sides met in Chester, it was a 2-2 draw.

The all-time series stands is relatively even, beginning with first regular season match in Union history and spanning two Philly wins, three Seattle victories and two ties.

Ex-Red Bulls set to feature for Cosmos in New York City Derby/Open Cup

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When the 2014 US Open Cup rolls through New York this weekend, it will bring with it a match that New York Cosmos fans have wanted for a long, long time… perhaps even longer than you think.

The current NASL club may be just a few years old, but the brand that once boasted Pele still has plenty of fans. And so the New York Red Bulls’ fourth-round Cup match with the Cosmos has NY’s attention.

“This is going to be the real first New York derby that we’ve ever had in soccer,” said Cosmos defender Hunter Freeman. “And because of the recognition the Cosmos name has worldwide, it’s pretty amazing.

“I’m sure a lot of people laugh at us and say, ‘Technically you’re in the second division.’ But we don’t look at it that way.”

Freeman is one of multiple Cosmos players who would be justified to feel added incentive. A former Red Bulls player from 2007-08, Freeman met his wife in New York and was able to use his time with the club to take his career where he always wanted it to go: Europe, where he suited up for IK Start from 2009-10.

So is he fired up? Would a win mean even more than a simple upset?

“Definitely, 100 percent,” Freeman said. “If I told you anything else, it would be a lie and not the truth. For me, personally, I don’t look at it as getting revenge against the club I once played for because I’ve played many games since I left.”

Club captain Carlos Mendes, 33, played more than 140 matches for the Red Bulls and was a fixture for the MLS side from 2005, when they were still the MetroStars, to 2011.

“It’s a little different,” Mendes said. “I’m excited game for the game. They are a really good team and we’ll have to be prepared and play well. Having my history there, the club will always be a part of my history. But we need to try and come out and win and advance in the Open Cup.

“It would mean something because it’s huge for our club, to be back after so many years. We want to do well. We have guys who have played at every level.

The Cosmos and Red Bulls kick off at Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. on Saturday at 8:30pm ET.

RELATED: U.S. Open Cup rolls on, with MLS clubs snaring wins

Canadian Championships, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup roll on this evening

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Montreal’s in a bad place heading into leg two of its match with NASL side FC Edmonton in the Canadian Championships, while Toronto FC will look to finish off the Vancouver Whitecaps in the other semi.

The Impact trail the Eddies 2-1 heading into tonight’s match at Stade Saputo, which means they’ll need a 1-0 or two-goal win in order to advance to the final.

Meanwhile Vancouver has an away goal, so a 1-0 win or two-goal win would work for them as well.

South of the Canadian border, USL Pro sides join the fray for the second formal round of the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Some of the higher profile match-ups feature LA Galaxy II vs. previous darlings Cal FC and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ date with the New York Red Bulls’ NPSL side.

Tuesday
Portland Timbers U23s (PDL) 2-3 Arizona United (USL PRO)

Wednesday
Orlando City U23 (PDL) vs. Jacksonville United (NPSL)
FC Schwaben AC (USASA) vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO)
Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) vs. Icon FC (USASA)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL PRO) vs. New York Red Bulls (NPSL)
Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL) vs. Greek American AA (USASA)
Reading United  (PDL) vs. GBFC Thunder (NPSL)
RVA FC (NPSL) vs. Richmond Kickers (USL PRO)
Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) vs. Carolina Dynamo (PDL)
FC Sonic Lehigh Valley (NPSL) vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO)
Michigan Bucks (PDL) vs. RWB Adira (USASA)
Orlando City (USL PRO) vs. Ocala Stampede (PDL)
Charleston Battery (USL PRO) vs. Panama City Beach Pirates (PDL)
Chattanooga FC (NPSL) vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (USL PRO)
Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) vs. Western Mass Pioneers (PDL)
Jersey Express (PDL) vs. Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)
Tulsa Athletics (NPSL) vs. Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL PRO)
Des Moines Menace (USASA) vs. Real Colorado Foxes (PDL)
Austin Aztex  (PDL) vs. NTX Rayados (USASA)
Fresno Fuego (PDL)  vs. Orange County Blues (USL PRO)
Laredo Heat (PDL) vs. Red Force FC (USASA)
Sacramento Republic FC (USL PRO) vs. Ventura County Fusion (PDL)
San Diego Flash (NPSL) forfeit match to PSA Elite (USASA)
LA Galaxy II (USL PRO) vs. Cal FC (USASA)

Considering last night’s big U.S. Open Cup upsets

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There was a time in recent U.S. Open Cup history that early-round upsets of Major League Soccer teams was no big deal. And in truth, last night’s results in Charleston and Orlando shouldn’t give either fan base much worry.  Look at cup competitions around the world, and upsets happen, especially when the favorites are on the road, come out flat, and see breaks go against them.

That’s what happened to both San Jose and Colorado, but we shouldn’t overlook the obvious. Like most MLS teams, the `Quakes and Rapids elected to rotate their squads, a gamble that blew up in their faces. Traveling to the two best teams in a seemingly improving USL PRO, Frank Yallop and Oscar Pareja underplayed their hands, electing to keep their biggest names on the bench until it was too late.

For the Rapids, Brian Mullan, Atiba Harris, and Clint Irwin, the club’s top three in MLS minutes played, were all held out Oscar Pareja’s starting XI, as were Drew Moor, Chris Klute, Deshorn Brown, Hendry Thomas, and Edson Buddle.  The Rapids were down 2-1 before that were forced to start making changes, but seeing starting goalkeeper Stewart Ceus red carded early in the second half, the late inclusions of Harris and Irwin proved too little, too late.

For San Jose, Frank Yallop elected to start Chris Wondolowski on the bench, where he was joined by Jon Busch, and Sam Cronin – the Earthquakes’ three most-used players this season. Marvin Chavez and Steven Beitashour were also held out while a misfiring San Jose attack had trouble breaking through in Charleston. After a second half set piece and a Brad Ring red card, San Jose’s calculated risk had backfired, the Battery sending the Earthquakes out of the tournament.

For both teams, the loss can be pinned on a confluence of factors that started with their lineups. Having handcuffed themselves, neither Colorado nor San Jose were able to adapt to their slow starts or the inevitable roadblocks. Against the two clubs that sit at the top of USL PRO, MLS’s representatives needed to put themselves in better positions.

At the same time, it’s difficult to fault with Yallop or Pareja. Those who’ve come to embrace the U.S. Open Cup want MLS teams to take the competition more seriously, but it’s very difficult to fault MLS coaches prioritizing regular season competition over early Cup matches where half-squads are often enough. Nobody is going to support teams holding back on the weekend to be rest for mid-week games against lower-level competition, so when it comes time to travel cross-country, on short rest, for an early round U.S. Open Cup match, coaches are going to make sacrifices.

We’ll see the same tonight from Seattle and Los Angeles. It’s just a fact of life in this competition. When quick turnarounds, road trips, poor performances and some bad breaks line up, upsets are going to happen.