Chivas USA approaches everything with a seriousness of purpose and respect for the details, so there isn't a chance they're heading into Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup showdown with the Carolina RailHawks figuring that showing up will be enough.
These knockout tournaments are a minefield, which was made plain with last week's third-round results, in which half of the 16 Major League Soccer clubs failed to advance against lower-level competition. Chivas was one of those that did; the RailHawks, from the second-division North American Soccer League, rallied late to oust the Galaxy.
It makes for an intriguing matchup in Cary, N.C., with a quarterfinal berth -- June 26 against a lower-than-MLS foe -- awaiting the victor. The RailHawks, with nine players who have been on MLS rosters (including Ty Shipalane, impetus in last week's win), won't be intimidated. Not after stunning the Galaxy last Tuesday, then following up with a weekend league victory over first-place Puerto Rico Islanders, Carolina's first NASL victory this season.
“They've had a great week, and I think they're on a run of confidence ...,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles on the eve of the match. “I think over the course of a season, there's probably a difference [between MLS and the NASL], but on any given day -- we've seen these guys are good players. They were in MLS for a reason and they're successful players for a reason. On any given day, they have enough quality.”
Chivas grinded out a 1-0 win in its tournament opener last week against the fourth-tier Ventura County Fusion and are aiming to surpass their 2010 run to the semifinals. A victory would send the Goats either to Texas to face first-year NASL club San Antonio Scorpions or back home for a meeting with third-tier Charlotte Eagles from the USL Pro.
Right back James Riley knows Open Cup success. He was part of the Seattle Sounders teams that captured the last three titles. The key to success? Taking it one game at a time, he says.
“I think on any given day, anyone can beat anyone. That's definitely the case in MLS, and it's more the case here,” said Riley, who played college soccer at Wake Forest. “You saw all the upsets in the Open Cup already. We're going into the game with full respect for [Carolina]. They're professionals, they like to play, they like to win. We're not going to fear them, but we have respect.”
WORTH NOTING: The game will be streamed on the RailHawks' website. Kickoff is 4:07 p.m. ... Oswaldo Minda was on the bench for Ecuador's 4-0 loss to Argentina in Saturday's 4-0 loss in Buenos Aires, which dropped La Tri to 2-2-0 in South American World Cup qualifiers. Ecuador faces Colombia in Quito on Sunday. ... Ante Jazic played 87 minutes for Canada in Sunday's 0-0 draw with the U.S. in Toronto. The Canucks open the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Friday against Cuba in Havana, then meet Honduras on June 12 in Toronto. ... Nick LaBrocca remains sidelined with a hamstring pull, but Ben Zemanski, returning from an MCL sprain, is available for Tuesday's match. ... Carolina is 1-4-5 in the NASL, but they're unbeaten in their last four games, all competitions, and are starting to click under first-year coach Colin Clarke, the former FC Dallas boss.