It happens every year. Like a Johnny Unitas haircut, you can set your clock to it.
When MLS teams hop into the U.S. Open Cup, inevitably some are immediately chopped down. On Wednesday night, three MLS clubs were swept aside by lower-level squads.
An impressive 30,160 fans showed up at Nippert Stadium for USL side FC Cincinnati’s 1-0 home win over Ohio rival Columbus. For the record, the Cincinnati Reds are averaging 22,063 fans per game.
Djiby Baye Fall scored the lone goal by outmuscling his marker for a header in the 64th minute, and the home side prevailed in the Battle of Ohio.
RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS from the booth:#FCCINCY 1⁰ Columbus Crew SC 0#CINvCLB pic.twitter.com/Sr7vRPvYkO— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) June 15, 2017
FC Cincinnati will have another chance to fill its stadium when the Chicago Fire come to town at the end of the month in the round of 16.
In another match with state pride on the line, Miami FC stunned Orlando City 3-1, with Brazilian Stefano Pinho scoring a hat trick.
Miami is an NASL club coached by former AC Milan defender Alessandro Nesta, who probably enjoyed beating his former teammate Kaka’s team. The Brazilian came on in the 63rd minute but was unable to rally his team from a 3-0 deficit.
After @TheMiamiFC 3-1 @opencup win at @OrlandoCitySC , Owner @_Riccardo_Silva is pictured here with ex @acmilan team mates @KAKA and @Nesta pic.twitter.com/ZerLEwFgjv— Silva International (@Silva_Intl) June 15, 2017
Apparently, the loss was too much to take for Orlando City’s young Canadian star striker Cyle Larin. Early Thursday morning the 22-year-old, who wasn’t included in the squad Wednesday, was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol content level more than twice the legal limit. He told officers he only had two or three vodka Red Bulls that night, but if that’s the case I need to hire his bartender.
While Orlando City at least trotted Kaka out late in the game, Real Salt Lake didn’t put much effort into its match with Sacramento Republic FC and was burned for it.
Sacramento, which had failed to score in its last two USL matches, put four past Salt Lake, which fielded mostly reserves and youth players.
The Republic, playing at their home stadium, scored three in the first half and cruised in the second and will play the L.A. Galaxy in the round of 16.
In the last 10 years, there have been an average of 2.5 round of 32 upsets of MLS teams in the U.S. Open Cup. Only 2009 had more than this year’s three, when four MLS clubs went down.
We almost had a fourth last night, but the Houston Dynamo scored a late winner to outlast North Carolina FC 3-2 in extra time.
While not much can be made of the overall trajectory of the lower tiers based on a couple games that teams may or may not take seriously, a stronger base to supply and support MLS can only improve U.S. soccer as a whole.
Like the FA Cup or NCAA basketball tournament, upsets are part of the allure of the U.S. Open Cup.