Los Angeles Soccer: U.S. Open Cup
Chivas USA's quest for a trophy ended the same place its last real quest met its end, where every quest, at least for this trophy, seems to come to a close.
The Goats ran into the Seattle Sounders in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup semifinals, and if their usual trouble spots -- an inability to create chances, costly mistakes in the worst places -- hadn't put them at a sizable disadvantage, then surely the reigning champs' attacking prowess would have done the trick.
The Sounders advanced to a fourth straight U.S. Open Cup title game -- and perhaps an unprecedented fourth straight triumph -- with a 4-1 romp in Tukwila, Wash., where they are 17-0 in the 99-year-old tournament.
Eddie Johnson gave Seattle a 31st-minute lead, Osvaldo Alonso converted a penalty kick at the start of the second half, and Cesar Romero's strike to halve the deficit with about 20 minutes to go was answered by UC Irvine product Brad Evans and Riverside's Sammy Ochoa near the end.
Chivas, which hasn't won a trophy in its 7 1/2-year history, failed in its biggest match since falling in the semifinals two years ago to the Sounders on the same Starfire Sports Complex turf.
“Early in the game was exactly as we expected it to be: a battle for territory, not giving anything up, getting into good spots,” head coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “I really thought it was going exactly as expected. Then we made a mistake to give up a bad goal, made another mistake for a bad goal to start the second half, then we're chasing the game.”
Chivas, despite ample possession, couldn't penetrate, and the service from the wings wasn't good enough. Starfire's narrow dimensions caused problems, and the Goats didn't get off a shot until the 58th minute -- and didn't get off a good one until Romero, who provided a big spark off the bench, made it 2-1 in the 74th.
That has been the recurring theme all season: Chivas has only 17 goals over 21 games in all competitions, and it's not because chances aren't being taken.
“I'd say I'm running short on patience in terms of scoring goals,” said Fraser, whose team has been shut out in three of its last four Major League Soccer matches and scored more than once only four times all year, twice against lower-level Open Cup opposition. “We'll just continue to work at it, continue to try to get the ball in dangerous spots.”
Seattle will face Sporting Kansas City in the final Aug. 8 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting won, 2-0, at Philadelphia, with Jacob Peterson tallying from Graham Zusi's free kick in the 65th minute and -- with Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath pushed forward in search of an equalizer -- Zusi scoring from midfield into an empty net deep into stoppage.
Chivas USA sits just 90 minutes -- perhaps 120; perhaps penalty kicks, too -- from playing for its first trophy, but it's not just the Seattle Sounders that stand in its way.
History, too, has some say and plenty of sway, and it all favors the Sounders in Wednesday night's U.S. Open Cup semifinal in Tukwila, Wash.
- The Sounders have won the past three championships in the 99-year-old competition, one for every season they've played in Major League Soccer.
- They're in their sixth straight semifinal, dating to their time in the second division, haven't lost in the Open Cup since the 2007 semis and haven't been beaten in regulation since 2005.
- They have won all 16 Open Cup matches at Starfire Sports Complex's 4,500-seat stadium, which has been the incubator for Seattle's recent supremacy in the nation's oldest soccer event: The Sounders are 11-0 in Tukwila these past four campaigns.
Chivas, which lost in a 2010 semifinal at Starfire, isn't intimidated.
“It's a chance to get to a final for this club, very important,” said right back James Riley, who was part of all three Sounders title teams. “To do it at Starfire isn't going to be easy, and I think we're up for the challenge, for sure.”
Chivas has lost just once in 11 competitive matches, pulling out three tight Open Cup victories in that span, the last two -- in the fourth round at second-tier Carolina RailHawks and in the quarterfinals against third-tier Charlotte Eagles -- on goals in second-half stoppage.
Seattle has had it easier, blowing out the second-division Atlanta Silverbacks, 5-1, and Thousand Oaks-based amateurs Cal FC, 5-0, before holding off the San Jose Earthquakes in a 1-0 quarterfinal victory earlier this month in San Francisco.
The Sounders just ended a franchise-record nine-game MLS winless streak, and Riley, who came to the Goats last November via Montreal in the expansion draft, says that although “they've been struggling a little bit, I kn they have fantastic players. I know once they get one [win], they'll go on a little bit of a run.”
“It's a huge challenge,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said. “Obviously, Seattle wins frequently and wins at their place and wins in Open Cup, so certainly it's a great challenge going in there, but we like the fact that [ours] is a team that has really begun to respond to challenges. We feel as if we're doing some things well and are on the verge of doing some things even better.”
The Goats would play at Sporting Kansas City or Philadelphia Union if they topple three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders in Wednesday night's semifinal in Tukwila, Wash.
The final will be Aug. 7 or 8.
The Sounders, who have won the past two titles before 30,000-plus crowds at CenturyLink Field, would be home with a victory and a Philadelphia triumph over Sporting in Wednesday's other semifinal. Sporting is home with a win regardless of what happens in the Chivas-Sounders match.
Seattle beat Chivas in the 2010 semifinals, the only other time the Goats have advanced past their opening game.
Here are the title-game scenarios:
- Aug. 7-8: Chivas USA at Philadelphia Union/Sporting Kansas City
- Aug. 8: Seattle Sounders at Sporting Kansas City
- Aug. 8: Philadelphia Union at Seattle Sounders
Chivas USA's U.S. Open Cup semifinal next month has been pushed back 24 hours.
The Goats and Seattle Sounders will face off Wednesday, July 11, at 7 p.m. at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. The match initially was scheduled for July 10.
No reason has been given for the change. Both teams have Major League Soccer home matches on July 7, and Seattle plays at New York on July 15, so the date falls perfectly between those matches. The Goats are off the weekend following the semifinal and next play at home on July 18.
Chivas advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 victory Tuesday night over the Charlotte Eagles, from the third-tier USL Pro. Seattle, the three-time defending Open Cup champion, won its quarterfinal at San Jose, 1-0.
This is Chivas' second trip to the final four. The Goats lost two years ago in a semifinal against the Sounders in Tukwila.
The Colombian forward, returning from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him most of June, made up for his miscue by scoring two goals, including a dramatic stoppage-time winner, as Chivas USA overcame the pesky Charlotte Eagles to advance to the 99-year-old competition's semifinals for the second time in club history.
Correa headed home a Laurent Courtois free kick nearly four minutes into added time to deliver a 2-1 triumph at Cal State Fullerton and set up a July 10 date with three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders, a 1-0 winner over the San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders beat the Goats two years ago in the semifinals.
“This is huge ...,” said Chivas coach Robin Fraser after the Goats' third one-goal victory in this Open Cup and the second in a row on a stoppage-time finish. “Sometimes the play's been good, sometimes the play's not been great, but at the end of the day, the team is finding ways to get results. That's going to serve you well in the long run.”
Correa also tallied in the 64th minute, finishing a through ball from Juan Agudelo that looked as if it would hold up until the end. Charlotte, a third-division side that beat FC Dallas in a third-round game nearly a month ago, pulled even in the 89th minute when Mauricio Salles knocked home the remains of a Jorge Herrera shot that James Riley slid in to block.
“It goes to show you waste some really big chances and you let the team stay in it, they’re going to fight until the very end,” said center back Danny Califf, who wore the captain's armband. “We didn’t make it easy on ourselves, especially in the second half. We weren’t able to hold the ball, we didn’t finish our attacks very well, they were able to get rebounds and come at us with numbers.
“It wasn’t pretty, but in the end it showed a lot of character. That’s two games in a row that we’ve done that, so we’d like to make it easier on ourselves, but a win is a win is a win.”
Correa clinically finished on the first, with Agudelo -- a late-first-half substitute for Miller Bolaņos, who retweaked his hamstring injury in his first game since May 23 -- feeding him after Courtois chested a Tim Melia clearance onto his path near midfield. The second was almost as nice, with Correa getting assistance from countryman Juan Pablo Angel to nod home Courtois' free kick from about 30 yards out on the right flank.
“I was arriving at that ball with not a lot of strength, and [Angel] pushed me from the back with a lot of strength,” Correa said through a translator. “The next thing I know, he yells, 'Goal!' and then I turn around. Practically, the whole strength on that goal was from him. He pushed me.”
The Goats will meet three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders, who won the meeting in the semis two years ago, on July 10 in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders toppled the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, in Tuesday's semifinal in San Francisco.
Jose Erik Correa's second goal of the evening, nearly four minutes into stoppage, lifted Chivas to a 2-1 victory over USL Pro side Charlotte Eagles at Cal State Fullerton.
The Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City will meet in the other all-MLS semifinal after cruising past opposition from the third-division USL Pro.
The Union scored three times in the first half-hour en route to a 5-2 romp over the Harrisburg City Islanders; Sporting received goals three minutes apart early in the second half from Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong to pull away to a 3-0 victory over the Dayton Dutch Lions.
Philadelphia will be home for the July 11 clash. The U.S. Open Cup final will be played Aug. 7 or 8.
A quick look at the three quarterfinal matches not involving Chivas USA:
CARSON -- Chivas USA has survived stiff tests from two lower-division teams to reach the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals for just the second time, and they know that's not about to change.
The Charlotte Eagles, the Goats' foe in Tuesday night's final-eight showdown at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium, have an air of destiny about them -- and a belief, tested and proved, they can handle whatever a Major League Soccer team throws at them.
The third-division club has shown it already, winning its first three matches in the 99th edition of America's longest-running soccer tournament on the road, in Texas, the last two against higher-division teams. The defining result: 2-0 over FC Dallas, the MLS club.
“We feel like we deserve to be here, because we've really put some good games together,” said Charlotte head coach Mark Steffens, whose team also beat second-tier San Antonio Scorpions in the fourth round. “Now if we added all of our play the whole season, I'd say, no, we don't deserve to be here. But the way we've played the second half of the season, it hasn't been a surprise winning a few big games.”
The Eagles, who are affiliated with Christian group Missionary Athletes International and, Steffens says, consider their religious mission more important than winning trophies, are ninth in the 11-team USL Pro with a 3-8-2 record (and a game at home Thursday against the L.A. Blues). They're 6-4-1, including the Open Cup wins, since the end of April, and the losses have come to the league's Nos. 1 and 3 teams and to longtime rival Richmond Kickers, a result they answered in a 4-1 romp a week and a half ago.
“Our turnaround has been defensively,” Steffens said. “So we're not going to do anything different than we've done [during a 4-2-1 run] the last six weeks. We're just working on defending and defending as a unit and getting behind the ball, so that's what we're going to do. If we can counter and get one [goal], it's always good to get ahead.”
Chivas, which made it to the semifinals two years ago, understands well Charlotte's approach. The Goats have had to battle to get past amateur powerhouse Ventura County Fusion in the third round, then needed a Juan Pablo Angel penalty kick in stoppage to beat second-tier Carolina RailHawks three weeks ago.
“In some respect, these games are harder than MLS games because you're playing guys who are salivating at the mouth, and that's always difficult,” said Chivas midfielder Peter Vagenas, who has won four Open Cups, twice with the Galaxy and twice with three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders. “You're playing teams that are desperate and have nothing to lose, and that's always difficult. ...
“By no means are we taking it lightly. The first two games were, quote-unquote, lesser opponents, and at some point they gave us everything we could handle, and we expect more of the same. We have to make sure that we match [their] intensity, and if we match [their] intensity -- this is no disrespect to them -- but certainly our soccer will prevail.”
CARSON -- Robbie Keane returned to training Friday with the Galaxy, just four days after wrapping up his involvement at the European Championship, and although he wishes he were in Ukraine preparing for a quarterfinal Saturday or Sunday, he says he's happy to be back.
And ready to go, should he be called upon for Saturday night's Major League Soccer clash with Vancouver at Home Depot Center.
“It's nice to be back amongst the lads and look forward to being involved tomorrow,” the Irish striker said following Friday's training session at HDC's Track and Field Stadium. “[I'm ready to] play as long as I can. I'd be happy to play 90 minutes.”
He's hoping to “get minutes under my belt tomorrow to sort of get all the stiffness out” as he looks to move on from a very disappointing Euro 2012 campaign. Ireland lost all three of its Group C matches, to Croatia, Italy and Spain, and finished last in the 16-nation tournament.
Asked what he takes from the Euros, Keane replied: “Nothing, really. It was a good experience. It was obviously great to play in the European Championship, but if you don't win ... sometimes you just have to hold your hand up and say the team you played were superior than you were. Simple as that, really.”
It was a frightful group for the Irish, who are capable battlers without the depth or talent of the continent's powers, a roster that includes the Spaniards -- defending European and World Cup champs -- and the Italians and, on occasion, the Croats, too.
The gap might be growing between decent teams, such as Ireland, and “people like Spain, who's probably on a different planet at the moment [from] anyone else I've ever played against,” Keane said. “You're just basically chasing shadows for 90 minutes.”
The only positive for Ireland was the Green Army supporters, a jovial lot who charmed everybody and won great plaudits for serenading their team with the Irish folk song “Fields of Athenry” as Spain rolled to a 4-0 victory Monday.
“That's normal for Irish fans,” Keane said. “They've been fantastic over the years, and especially in Poland I think they've been a credit to the country in the way they behaved and the way they supported the team. That's how every team should be supported.”
U.S. Soccer announced the semifinal pairings Thursday, and they followed the expected regionalization, with all three West Coast teams on one side of the bracket and the clubs in the East and Midwest in the other bracket.
Chivas plays against an Eastern team, third-division Charlotte Eagles, on Tuesday at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium. MLS rivals San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders meet in San Francisco.
Seattle is the 99-year-old tournament's three-time defending champion.
If the Earthquakes advance, they will stage the semifinal at Santa Clara University's Buck Shaw Stadium, their home field until a planned permanent stadium opens possibly next year or in 2014. The Sounders would play at their No. 2 facility, Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash.
Chivas reached the semifinals in 2010, losing to Seattle.
Semifinal games would be played July 10 or 11.
Here are the semifinal pairings:
- Chivas USA (MLS)/Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at Seattle Sounders (MLS), June 10, 7 p.m., or Chivas USA (MLS)/Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), June 10, 7:30 p.m.
- Sporting Kansas City (MLS) at Philadelphia Union (MLS), July 11, 4:30 p.m., or Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Philadelphia Union (MLS), July 10, 4:30 p.m., or Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro), July 10, 4:30 p.m., or Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS), July 10, 5:30 p.m.
And here are Tuesday's quarterfinal pairings:
- Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) vs. Chivas USA (MLS) at Cal State Fullerton, 7:30 p.m.
- Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at Philadelphia Union (MLS), 4:30 p.m.
- Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS), 5:30 p.m.
- Seattle Sounders (MLS) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), 7:30 p.m.
Chivas USA won't play its U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at Home Depot Center, opting to return to Cal State Fullerton, where the Goats last played a home game in the competition.
The club Thursday confirmed that Titan Stadium would be the site of the June 26 clash with the Charlotte Eagles, a third-division club that plays in the USL Pro. Chivas has won road games against the fourth-tier Ventura County Fusion and second-division Carolina RailHawks in its first two games in the competition.
U.S. Soccer, which must approve all venues, had announced the game would be held at HDC, but Chivas' website listed the site as undetermined until this week.
The Goats beat the second-tier Austin Aztex, 1-0, at Fullerton in a third-round game en route to the 2010 semifinals. Their only other home game in the 99-year-old competition was played in Goleta, at UC Santa Barbara's Harder Stadium. Dallas-based amateurs Roma FC advanced on penalties after a scoreless draw.
Chivas also played a 2008 SuperLiga game against the New England Revolution, a 1-1 draw, at Fullerton.
Titan Stadium, which seats 10,000, is a more intimate venue than HDC, and the rent is cheaper. It was universally considered Southern California's best smaller soccer venue (and, thus, best soccer venue) for more than a decade and has been No. 2 on the list since HDC opened in 2003.
Soccer by its nature often rewards underdogs: Cal FC's victory over Portland, given the disparity in possession and number of chances, would be impossible in any other major sport (and perhaps any “minor” sport, too), but who didn't enjoy the Thousand Oaks' club's inspirational run to the fourth round -- the Timbers and their fans aside?
Nine MLS clubs, of 16 in the Open Cup, lost to teams from lower divisions, with the Chicago Fire also falling to an amateur team (the Premier Development League's Michigan Bucks). That's what makes the event work. If MLS could sweep aside teams from the second division (North American Soccer League), third division (USL Pro), fourth division (PDL) and lower (U.S. Adult Soccer Association, from which Cal FC came), there's no point to the Cup. Just hold an MLS League Cup.
It would be nice to see a truly blind draw (the pairings are regionalized), and that includes the third-round games, which are tournament openers for MLS clubs. Why can't MLS teams be drawn to play other MLS teams right off the bat? The format favors the big league in that if there were no upsets, all 16 fourth-round teams would be from MLS. How is this a plus?
The best stories in this tournament, the ones we'll remember when it's done, are Cal FC's and the Harrisburg City Islanders'. The USL Pro side's miraculous three-goal comeback in overtime to oust New England in the third round was the game of the Cup. Tuesday night's fourth-round win over New York, also in overtime, had everything going for it: drama, controversy, a stunning end included.
Five MLS teams survived to the June 26 quarterfinals -- Chivas USA, San Jose, Seattle (winner of the last three Open Cups), Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia -- and it's set up so only one (the Earthquakes-Sounders victor) is guaranteed a semifinal spot. That's about perfect, even if there are no further upsets. And it's likely there won't be. Only once since MLS's 1996 arrival has the tournament winner not been an MLS club. Only three times have both finalists not been from MLS.
The quarterfinal slate:
Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at Chivas USA (MLS)
Seattle Sounders (MLS) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at Philadelphia Union (MLS)
Our bet for the semis: Chivas vs. Seattle (a rematch of the 2010 semifinals) and Sporting-Harrisburg. Yes, we're going to go with another upset by the City Islanders, who have an official affiliation with Philly.
Here are this week's power rankings:
1. REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-2, 29 points), Last Week: 1
Week 13: Idle.
Latest: Garden Grove's Gil out four weeks with an MCL sprain picked up with the U.S. U-20s.
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22).
2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-3-2, 26 points), LW: 2
Week 13: Red Bulls fall in overtime to the Harrisburg City Islanders, their second Open Cup loss in three years against the USL Pro club.
Latest: New York treats the Open Cup like a serious competition, unlike last year. Fails to reach the quarterfinals, unlike last year. (Dropped second game in the tournament, just like last year.)
2011 friendlies: July 31 vs. Tottenham (England).
Next: Sunday, June 17 at Chicago, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).
3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (8-3-1, 25 points), LW: 3
Week 13: Teal Bunbury wraps a a 2-0 Open Cup fourth-round win over Colorado.
Latest: Aurelien Collin's opener in the Open Cup win taken away, changed to a Matt Pickens own goal.
2011 friendlies: Aug. 1 vs. Stoke City (England).
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
All three third-division teams in action Tuesday pulled out victories, all in overtime, to advance to the June 26 quarterfinals in the 99th edition of American soccer's oldest and most prestigious knockout tournament.
The Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions and Harrisburg City Islanders join five Major League Soccer clubs in the final eight, all of them set to take on first-division opposition.
The Islanders pulled off the upset, booting MLS power New York Red Bulls from the competition for the second time in three years. Sainey Touray, a former Red Bull, scored his second goal of the night in the 94th minute and rookie Lucky Mkosana added another in the 117th for a 3-1 victory.
Harrisburg overcame a three-goal overtime deficit last week to beat the New England Revolution on penalties.
Dayton toppled amateurs Michigan Bucks, 2-1, and Charlotte claimed a 2-1 win at San Antonio, on Mauricio Salles' 116th-minute penalty kick, in the USL Pro's only showdown with the second-division North American Soccer League.
Charlotte will play Chivas USA at Home Depot Center. Dayton has a date at Sporting Kansas City.
The Philadelphia Union also needed overtime to get past D.C. United in one of two all-MLS clashes.
Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart was the hero for the the San Jose Earthquakes, scoring in the 85th minute to beat the NASL's Minnesota Thunder, 2-1, at Stanford.
Here is a scorelist and schedule:
Chivas USA should have gotten more from its early dominance in Tuesday's night's U.S. Open Cup clash, but that's to be expected. The Goats have a knack for not taking advantage of their chances -- or not creating chances from their possession.
They got one goal, a beautiful header from Juan Agudelo, and then ran into some fortune at the finish, and so they'll play on into the quarterfinals of the 99-year-old knockout tournament, and do so at home.
Juan Pablo Angel converted a penalty kick in the third minute of stoppage to deliver a 2-1 third-round triumph over the Carolina RailHawks in Cary, N.C. The Goats advance to a June 26 final-eight matchup with the Charlotte Eagles, a third-tier side from the USL Pro that beat the second-division San Antonio Scorpions, 2-1, in overtime.
Chivas' victory was neither simple nor particularly impressive, at least not after the break.
“I thought we started well,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “We created quite a few chances, were able to put them on their heels. We probably didn't do well enough with our opportunities early on. ... We came out the second half and didn't put together a whole lot, but real credit to the group for coming out with a lot of resiliency after their goal.”
The Goats looked good in the first half, moving the ball swiftly through Peter Vagenas in midfield and feeding off a sensational first half-hour, especially, from Agudelo. The big teenager's movement flummoxed the RailHawks, and his strength overpowered them.
He generated several opportunities -- the best: setting up Laurent Courtois to fire just over the crossbar in the 16th minute, firing to force a tough save by former FC Dallas goalkeeper Ray Burse a minute later, nodding a cross that Burse somehow kept out in the 25th -- and should have scored in the 18th, when he delayed his shot and the opening disappeared.
Agudelo tallied in the 31st from a Courtois cross with a sharp, glancing header from the edge of the 6-yard box across the goalmouth and into the right-post netting.
“He was finding a lot of good spaces,” Fraser said. “He was very, very difficult for them to deal with, running in behind, holding off guys, running at guys. That activity was very important for us.”
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.”
Chivas USA is one victory away from its first home game in this year's U.S. Open Cup, as long as things also go the right way down in Texas in Tuesday's fourth round.
The Goats would play their June 25 quarterfinal match at Home Depot Center against the third-division Charlotte Eagles if both advance.
If Thousand Oaks' Cal FC can overcome another Major League Soccer foe, it might get a third, with a date against the San Jose Earthquakes in San Francisco.
U.S. Soccer on Saturday released the pairings for the quarterfinals. Chivas takes on the second-tier Carolina RailHawks in a round-of-16 game in Cary, N.C., and Cal FC, fresh off its upset of the Portland Timbers, faces three-time defending Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders in Tukwila, Wash.
Chivas also could travel to San Antonio to take on the Scorpions, a first-year team in the second-division North American Soccer League. San Antonio will be home Tuesday against Charlotte, a USL Pro side, and the likeliest results -- note the 99th edition of the Open Cup has had plenty of unlikely results -- would send the Goats to Texas.
Cal FC, if victorious, would play the Minnesota Stars in Blaine, Minn., if the NASL team upsets San Jose on Tuesday night at Stanford University. The Quakes plan to play their quarterfinal at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.
Chivas has played only two home Open Cup home games, neither at HDC. It lost on penalties to Texas amateurs FC Roma in Santa Barbara in 2006 and beat the second-tier Austin Aztex, 1-0, at Cal State Fullerton two years ago. The Goats lost in their tournament debut, in 2005, to the Galaxy at HDC's Track and Field Stadium. It was L.A.'s home game.
Here are the quarterfinal assignments (all times Pacific):
- Chivas USA (MLS)/Carolina RailHawks (NASL) at San Antonio Scorpions (NASL), 5:30 p.m.; or Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at Chivas USA (MLS), 7:30 p.m./Carolina RailHawks (NASL), 4:07 p.m.
- Cal FC (USASA)/Seattle Sounders (MLS) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), 8 p.m./Minnesota Stars (NASL), 5:30 p.m.
- New York Red Bulls (MLS)/Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at D.C. United (MLS)/Philadelphia Union (MLS), 4:30 p.m.
- Michigan Bucks (PDL)/Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS), 5:30 p.m./Colorado Rapids (MLS), 6 p.m.