Any momentum gained by teams advancing to the fifth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup looks to have dissipated in the return to league play. The teams still alive in the tournament (Chivas USA, the Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, the San Jose Earthquakes, and the Philadelphia Union) went a combined 1-0-3 this weekend, outscored an aggregate 8 goals to 3.
Meanwhile, four teams (New England, Chicago, Vancouver and Houston) played league matches since May 29th (when the U.S. Open Cup matches incorporated MLS squads, and the FIFA international break gave most clubs a break in league play) went undefeated, collecting 10 out of a possible 12 points and scoring a combined 6 goals while only conceding 2.
These results are all amidst the rather awkward (and somewhat boring) resumption of league play in which six of the weekend's nine games had a least one side posting a clean sheets for the third time this season (March 24th and May 5th).
Read more after the jump!
Intriguingly from May 13th to May 27th, only five games featured one or both sides pitching a clean sheet. Scoring was on the rise until the a three week layoff brought that right back down to Earth.
Philadelphia beat D.C. United 2-1 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup just under two weeks ago at the Maryland SportsPlex. This weekend the two were paired again, this time in Philadelphia. The Union, in John Hackworth's first game in charge, despite looking in control for the majority of the match, lost when D.C. striker Chris Pontius was able to score off a Branko Boskovic free kick in the 78th minute.
Quick little segue: to the right, you'll see the match stats from the U.S. Open Cup match between D.C. United and Philadelphia as taken from the MLS website's recap of the game.
|1||Attempts on Goal||2|
|1||Shots on Target||2|
|0||Shots off Target||0|
|0||Open Play Crosses||0|
|0%||Duels Won %||0%|
|100%||Passing Accuracy %||100%|
Notice anything unusual? Each team had one pass each? It's absurd. MLS is doing no one any favors putting completely fabricated numbers on their website. It reflects poorly on a league striving for credibility. I digress.
Seattle fell 4-1 to Montreal in the inaugural match of the newly expanded Stade Saputo. The three time Cup winners, played one of their worst matches in the team history. Seattle fans can't even complain about the field: the pitch that was once referred to as "a joke" has been completely refurbished. What was once a thin artificial turf laid over a bumpy, concrete floor has been significant upgraded to grass covered in beautiful green Kentucky Bluegrass.
Given Real Salt Lake's dominant performance this weekend, Seattle may well have to look forward to another season with only an Open Cup trophy lining their trophy case.
Sporting was the only team in the Open Cup group to come away from their weekend match with points, although their win came against hapless Toronto FC. New TFC coach Paul Mariner, Toronto's seventh coach in less than six years, must've wondered what he'd gotten himself into as both of KC's goals were direct results of egregiously poor defending, to put it mildly. Julio Cesar, whose strike was excellent, was a beneficiary of a Toronto defense that left him completely unmarked.
It's telling that of the teams left in contention for the U.S. Open Cup, San Jose, the team that didn't play, may have had one of the best weekends. The team will have had 24 days between league matches when they travel to face the Colorado Rapids. Of course, it may make them rather rusty.
It's going to be interesting if the trend of layoffs suppressing scoring continues. One one hand, if any team was capable of beating the streak, the Earthquakes, who are second in the league in goals scored with 27 in 14 games, seems to be a good candidate. On the other, the Rapids are a strong home team going 4-1-1 at home, three of those wins being shutouts.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!