The US Open Cup is North America’s big free-for-all soccer tourney, where teams from lower tiers in the soccer hierarchy play pro teams and it’s last man standing. It makes the NCAA tourney look pathetic in the diversity of players and teams. Pros versus guys with day jobs. Last year, the Chicago Fire lost in the USOC finals versus the much loathed Seattle Sounders FC. Last night there were tons of USOC games in the third round. So how did it turn out for the professionals?
The LA Galaxy (without David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan) played the second tier and NASL Championship Carolina Railhawks. Sure the Galaxy didn’t have their rock stars, but they’re pros - right? Right??
Wrong. The LA Galaxy lost 2-1 and were eliminated.
In Columbus, the Fire’s rival, the Crew, played the Dayton Dutch Lions of the third tier USL PRO. What’s a Dutch Lion? Do they even *have* lions in Holland? Anyway, the Crew lost 3-2. Second MLS team is kicked out.
The Fire played the Michigan Bucks (4th tier), a team that consists of semi-pro players. The Fire lost in overtime 3-2. Third team is kicked out of the tournament.
But as Ron Popeil said “BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!”
Third tier USL PRO team Harrisburg City Islanders played the New England Revolution. The game was tied 0-0 after 90 minutes, and after 90 minutes they play 2 15 min periods with no “golden goal” like in hockey. In overtime, New England puts up 3 goals in the span of 8 minutes. That’s unheard of, even against a third tier team. So what happens next? The Islanders respond with 3 overtime goals in 9 minutes. WHAT IN SWEET JESUS’ NAME??? Then it goes to penalty kicks, and former Fire 3rd string GK Nick Noble stops US Men’s National Team player Benny Feilhaber. Harrisburg City beats New England after going 4-3 in PKs. MLS team #4 is out.
The San Antonio Scorpions from NASL (2nd tier) beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0. That’s the fifth team from MLS that falls out of the tournament. The fun continues when the Charlotte Eagles from USL PRO (3rd tier) went to Dallas to play FC Dallas. C’mon - FC Dallas, playing at home versus a third tier team? Easy win, right? WRONG. They lose 2-0.
There’s been some shenanigans in the tournament, where teams like Seattle and Real Salt Lake basically “bought” a home game for the tournament from the opposing team. I mean, MLS teams with sponsors can throw a few bucks at teams like the Minnesota Stars FC of NASL and lure them to a home game? Well, Real Salt Lake did that to the Minnesota Stars FC and had a crowd of 17,000+ for a game. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? The Minnesota Stars FC won, 3-1. Team #7 is kicked out.
14 MLS teams played, 7 survived. Anything can happen in the tournament, but damn, this hurts. It’s like watching a NIT team beat a NBA team.