Wednesday, August 23, 2006

US Open Cup Quarterfinals Preview

DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
7:30pm ET - Radio - link should go live at start of match
DCU's - USOC record 16-7 (vs. MLS teams 3-5), NYRB's- 13-9 (6-5)

This game finds DC welcoming Bruce Arena back to RFK, and it also finds both teams in bad shape. DC is showing their worse run of form since last year's playoff against Chicago, while the buzz around the Arena hire might just be fading along with the teams recent up tick in play. Actually, both teams are a bit lucky to be in the quarterfinals at all.

DC outplayed Columbus in the last round, but could not get the shots they needed and were forced into overtime to get the win. Had DC played just about any other team from that round, they would not have been so lucky.

For New York, they almost lost in North Carolina to USL Second Division side Wilmington Hammerheads. Had it not been for an excellent late goal by Danny O'Rourke, the Hammerheads could very easily have been the ones going to DC.

So what to expect from this one? This would be a huge win for New York and they should come ready to play. If Todd Dunivant, Danny O'Rourke and Marvell Wynne can hold Alecko Eskandarian and Jaime Moreno in check, and that is a big if, the Red Bulls stand a chance. Still, I wonder where they will get their goals. Amado Guevara has been good of late, but without additional help from Edson Buddle, DC will have an easy time shutting them down.

In the end, I think New York will get the first goal and DC will respond. In overtime, United should be able to pull in just enough to get the win.

By the way, New York's win against the Hammerheads was their first US Open Cup win since 2003. Also, FC Dallas knocked DC out of the 2005 Open Cup in the quarterfinals.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution
8:30pm ET - Radio
Chicago - 23-5 (13-3), NE - 5-6 (2-3)

These two teams just played each other over the weekend with the Fire coming out on top, but things might change tonight. Chicago head coach Dave Sarachan has hinted that he might play a mix of reserve and first-team players for the match, much like they did a week ago against KC, but the Revs might just field most of their starting lineup as they did during the last round against Rochester.

Adding fuel to this speculation is the teams’ upcoming schedule. Chicago play 3 games over the next 7 days, while New England plays just 2, with their other game being a home match against the Crew.

With that in mind, I think the Fire will put forth a good effort, but will not have the talent on the field to win the game. If the Rev put Dempsey in, which they should since he can't play in their next MLS match, they should be able to get the win.

The big wildcard is that Chicago is a great Cup team. They have a wonderful USOC record and have never lost a quarterfinal. Everything points to New England except history. We'll see which one is right tonight.

Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas
9:00pm ET - Radio
Houston - 1-0 (0-0), FCD - 19-9 (7-6)

Yet again the teams of Texas meet. For Houston, they must look forward to these intra-state rivalries since they have yet to lose one. The Dynamo are here after beating the USL Development league's Carolina Dynamo 4-2. In that match, Houston went up by 3, but fell asleep and quickly found themselves in a 3-2 fight. They were able to get out of it, but if they put themselves in that sort of position against FCD, look for them to drop this one.

Talking about Dallas, for the first time ever, Trinidad & Tobago's World Cup hero, goalkeeper Shaka Hislop will be between the posts during this match. If he can keep his backline as tight as regular starter Dario Sala has kept his, then defense should not be their problem tonight. Which brings us to offense or more exactly, the lack there of.

Carlos Ruiz's return to the lineup was suppose to add to the team's attack, but they have not scored a goal and have only had 9 shots on goal in their last two outings. Part of the problem is their over reliance on Kenny Cooper. Another part of it is the sloppy play in the midfield. If they want to finally win against Houston, they will need to keep possession and what for the mistakes that Houston is often to make.

Houston has never played a quarterfinal match, however a team that looked a lot like them but made their living out in California did. However, of the seven times this team from out West made the quarters, they only advanced once. For Dallas the record stands at 5-3, but normally when they lose, they really lose (2000 1-5 vs. Chicago, 2004 0-4 vs. KC).

Smart folks would go with Houston on this one, but I'm not that bright. Last year, FCD went on a horrible run of form in late summer, but still managed to pull out USOC wins. I'm going to guess that this year will be the same.

This should be a very scrappy match. Without Brian Ching on the pitch for Houston, Dallas should be able to cover Dwayne De Rosario. Without De Rosario, Houston is in trouble. Expect a shootout with Dallas advancing.

LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids
10:30pm ET - Radio
LA - 18-5 (9-4), Colorado - 7-9 (4-3)

Are we going to see a repeat of 2005? After tonight, the answer to that question should start coming into focus.

Last year, it was their play in the USOC that kicked LA into gear, which lead them to the domestic double. However, this year they don't have two joke teams to give them comfort in the MLS.

All and all, LA has looked much better over the last two weeks. The introduction of Santino Quaranta to their lineup has provided them with a surprise option that teams just seem unable to stop. Both Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez have looked better and the team as a whole in much tighter. I guess a little Frank Yallop can do a lot for a team.

The Rapids looked like a team on the make this year then they traded away Dedi Ben Dayan and now find themselves without any offense. In addition, without Terry Cooke in the midfield, I don't think this team has the attack they need to put forward a big challenge. I think that means they will need Clint Mathis to step-up and that is never a situation one should be in.

In the end, the Rapids have never been much of a tournament team while LA has. The Galaxy will find this win a little harder then the one against Dallas Roma, but in the end they should get it.

By the way, the Rapids have not won a quarterfinal match since 1999. LA has won five quarterfinals, with four of them played against San Jose.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home