The final all-Southern California match of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup is here, as the LA Galaxy enter the tournament, where they’ll face Orange County SC in the fourth round on Wednesday night
Orange County come into the game having won their last two games, against PDL side FC Golden State Force and UPSL team LA Wolves FC, and have advanced deeper in the tournament than ever before in their history.
The Galaxy, meanwhile, enter the fourth round along with the rest of the American MLS teams, and have one of the better pedigrees in the tournament, winning the Open Cup in 2001 and 2005, one of six MLS teams to have won the USOC at least two times in the current professional era.
Traditionally, in recent years it was believed the Galaxy were not terribly concerned with the Open Cup, as demonstrated by a few times when the team was knocked out on the first try, and one year when then-head coach Bruce Arena didn’t even travel to the game. But to be honest, that narrative is perhaps a bit overblown. Like many teams, the Galaxy tend to rotate their lineup and play a bunch of youngsters and reserves in the first Open Cup game or two. But last year, they made a run to the semifinal, and only fell late in the extra period to eventual champs FC Dallas.
Under new head coach Curt Onalfo, it’s hard to say what strategy will be used by LA. Perhaps he will take it a tad casually like his predecessor, or maybe he’ll use it as a moment to pick up silverware in relative ease. Onalfo has already been under siege, at least among a segment of the fanbase and the media, and there’s nothing like a trophy to shut the critics up.
On the other side, Orange County SC will definitely be underdogs, but assuming the Galaxy don’t play a first-choice XI, they’ll have to expect they’ll have a chance at the very least. Logan Pause’s men have not always been convincing in recent games, but in the Open Cup they have taken on tricky teams that would prove to be easy stumbling blocks and gotten the needed wins to advance. In the opposite position now, they’re playing with house money, and a win over MLS opposition will help these players raise their visibility around American soccer.
And if Orange County can get the upset, they’ll have the opportunity to continue their cup run, and really put a team that gets very little attention on the map around the country.
Either way, it should be an interesting game, and we’ll see which team emerges as the best in Southern California, even if it’s for one night.
LA Galaxy vs. Orange County SC is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 pm PT on Wednesday at StubHub Center’s Track and Field Stadium. If you can’t make it to the match, you can watch the game locally on Spectrum SportsNet.