As I’m sure you all know by now, the USL went an impressive 6-0-1 (1-0 PK) against the North American Soccer League last night in the Third Round of the United States Open Cup. On top of that, the Sacramento Republic was able to avenge their fallen USL brethren, Arizona United, with a 7-3 drubbing of upstart United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) side Chula Vista FC. An additional four teams were also able to advance to the 2015 USOC Fourth Round by dispatching another USL squads. So what can we take away from last night?
Not All Games Need a Name
Maybe I’m the only person who thinks every game does not need a name? I got on Twitter at 5:20 Central Time (thank you, early flight out of Baltimore) and saw teams and supporters trying to figure out what to dub their games against other in-state teams. Here’s a thought, quit detracting from the significance of the Cup!
I get it, branding is all the rage. I’m especially one to talk given my obsession with the Queso Bowl last night, but that was at least an established rivalry from the preseason. I will not go into my views on pre/midseason friendlies (I could care less), though my point still stands. Quit trying to give every game a series name because it, quite frankly, does not matter as long as the games are tightly contested.
Oh, and Austin, on June 20 I will be expecting my queso.
Performance of the Round
This absolutely goes to Brian Ownby and the league-leading Richmond Kickers. Ownby managed to snag the opener off a corner against the NASL’s Jacksonville Armada, and I’m crediting him with starting not only Richmond’s blood bath, but also the demolition of NASL all night. Richmond dominated Jacksonville 3-0, and that’s putting it in a slightly kind light.
The Armada are one of four teams still in contention for the NASL Spring Championship, so this should give you some example of how good they are. However, the Kickers asserted their will on the game and made the second division side look incredibly disjointed. It was just casual how bad the Kickers made Jacksonville look last night, to the point that Richmond was essentially getting Jacksonville’s color commentator to throw all sorts of shade on his own team. Far and away it was the most complete performance of the round in my eyes.
Don’t Get Too Cocky
It was a 5-Star night by all metrics for the third division last night. The only teams to get eliminated were by other third division teams, and they proved that they can hold their own against the higher levels of competition. Obviously, the talent disparity is less a gulf than a channel, though some would like you to believe differently based on ideologies of financial models, but I’m not getting into that.
That being said, please keep the trash talking to a minimum. The USL went 1-2 in games between the two divisions last year in the Third Round, with the lone victory coming courtesy of a 4-1 Orlando City win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Teams from the third division also lacked many convincing wins over fourth division sides, sounds kind of like a certain division, to an extent, this year right?
– Carter Baum was, until recently, the communications guy for the Energy. He now works for FC Dallas as Senior Digital Content Coordinator. Needless to say, it sounds like he’s already planning ahead to June 16.
– A familiar matchup is on the cards as the Charleston Battery welcomes Orlando City to Blackbaud Stadium for the Fourth Round.
– The first affiliation battle of the tournament comes courtesy of the Republic and San Jose Earthquakes.
– Pour one out for Harrisburg, Real Monarchs, Timbers 2 and Tulsa, who will no longer get to take part in the fun.
Let’s all hope for some more giant killing in the Fourth Round. Regardless of what happens, the Third Round is a prime example of why everyone and their dog should love this competition.
(image courtesy of Mark Guthrel)