Dallas and New England have survived to reach the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final, Dallas will host in late September.
Last night, some criticism came in for the LA Galaxy and the lineup they put out to face Dallas in the semifinals. They rotated quite a few players in their normal eleven while Dallas chose their first choice eleven. The Galaxy were coming off a wild game on Sunday night against New York while Dallas was off last weekend from league play. They last played in the CONCACAF Champions League on August 4.
The Open Cup still does not have the importance that many hardcore fans would like to see. However, it’s not always that easy when teams are juggling a variety of competitions along with injuries and fatigue. All of that is accentuated at this stage of the season. LA is fourth in the Western Conference right now, four points out of escaping the first knockout round of the playoffs. They are also looking ahead to a tough Saturday night match with one of the teams ahead of them, Colorado.
Where this game fell in the schedule gave Dallas more flexibility. Oscar Pareja and the club have consistently said they place great importance on this tournament due to the connections to their founder Lamar Hunt. Pareja also recognizes that it is the quickest route to the CONCACAF Champions League each season as well.
Both teams are right, and the game last night showed it. LA has the depth to be able to rotate their lineup and still compete at a high level, unlike some other MLS teams who tried it in earlier rounds.
Like it or not, the Open Cup is the third priority for most MLS teams behind the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup. It is similar to the League Cup in England, which sits behind the FA Cup and the Premier League title in importance. That’s okay for now.
With a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League now attached to it, along with $250,000 in prize money for the winners and a national television spotlight, the importance of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will continue to grow.
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