The semifinals for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup kick off tonight with the New England Revolution hosting the Chicago Fire, and concludes after FC Dallas visits the Los Angeles Galaxy Wednesday evening. The four teams remaining have their respective reasons for placing priority on these matches; two hope to slay their demons, while two others hope to continue on their glorious path.
For the New England Revolution, the semifinals in the US Open Cup is unfamiliar territory. The Foxboro region has not seen the semis since 2008, ultimately losing to the eventual Cup champions D.C. United. The Revolution have been so ambivalent to the Open Cup, that the team failed to win a single game between their last win in 2008 all the way to 2013 against the Rochester Rhinos. In fact, in both 2010 and 2011, the Revs did not even qualify for the tournament! However, in recent years, the club has seen respectable form in league play, and the players have given the northeast region tournament victories in the MLS playoffs. The Revs will play the Chicago Fire, a team whose league form is incomparable.
The Fire, over the past four years, have placed disproportionate weight on their US Open Cup runs at the expense of league play. The chicken laid the egg first each season, and the club’s sliding results prompted a run towards the only attainable trophy. Their shining run of form in the Open Cup, however, has seen the Bridgeview residents reach the semifinals in the last four years. Unfortunately, each match played has ended in a loss (and rather embarrassingly in some cases). The deep Cup runs with nothing to show for them have resulted in seasons in which Chicago have finished in the lower rungs of the league table, and not just the Eastern Conference. Only in 2013 did they manage to place 6th; however, at the time, 6th place was not enough to make the postseason. Will the Fire manage to burn down the wall that has stopped them for almost half a decade?
The LA Galaxy have been rather unfortunate in their draws for US Open Cup play. By luck of the envelope, the Galaxy have had to travel to Cary, North Carolina to face the RailHawks three times in as many years for midweek matches between league fixtures. Almost predictably, Arena’s decisions to rest starters for league play resulted in three early round exits. Finally, in 2015, a favorable draw to host PSA Elite allowed Bruce to work with both tournament and league without major sacrifice, and the team advanced to the quarterfinals, eventually succumbing to Real Salt Lake. All was not lost, as the Galaxy were about to begin another tournament, the CONCACAF Champions League less than a month later. This year is Los Angeles’ first semifinal appearance since 2006, when the club reached the final to face the Chicago Fire. Will there be a repeat a decade later?
Finally, FC Dallas. The Frisco boys are no strangers to the semifinals. In 2014, the club took the Philadelphia Union all the way to penalties, and four of their five kick takers are still with the club (only Blas Perez is no longer in red hoops). FC Dallas currently hold the top position on the league table, and their deep run in the playoffs last year could be indicative of their run once the playoffs kick off in November. Will the club be able to snatch the league’s first ever treble? The first trophy still needs to be claimed, and FCD will be one step closer if they win this week.
The US Open Cup match between New England Revolution and Chicago Fire begins at 8:00pm ET, and LA Galaxy v FC Dallas will begin at 10pm ET Wednesday. Both matches will be available on ESPN 2.