Let's do it again

It's hard to schedule a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Previous years, the games were dotted pretty much randomly on the schedule. The past couple of years, the USSF, the USL and MLS have done a remarkable job getting the games played on consistent dates. It's rough for USL teams budget-wise, and it's exasperating for MLS teams, but the theory is that teams that win have more money to burn.

Crystal Palace USA (or "Baltimore," and they're being a little bit thirteen-year-old girl about what they want to call themselves, if you ask me) may have had a home game against New York, and a comparatively brief stroll to Harrisburg in previous rounds, but I'm still not sure when they'll break even in this tournament, what with being forced to go to BEAUTIFUL GLENDORA, CALIFORNIA! in the first round. A few years ago FC Roma of Dallas got screwed out of their rightful prize money based on a technicality, after making two separate trips to California for the privilege.

At least mid-week flights are cheaper, and it's easy to follow the tournament. MLSnet has a ticker, as they are willing to face the possibility of more embarrassing upsets with fortitude. But the right place to go for this tournament is still Josh's site.

This, for example, is a much more informative and detailed preview than I could put up - so good, it's actually easier to link to it than plagiarize the good parts. All Josh doesn't have is my half-assed opinion.

A sold-out Gillette Stadium sure would have answered CPUSA's budget issues, but this game is in New Britain, Connecticut. I realize it's not cool to reference Glendora, California and then turn around and say "Where the hell is New Britain, Connecticut?" Therefore, I will point out that Glendora is one of the stops along Historic Route 66, and there's a really good Argentine restaurant there. I think that was in Glendora.

Oh, the game. Um, Crystal Palace really isn't an insurable risk here, so it's pretty much up to New England to totally blow off this game. And that's harder than the Red Bulls made it look, because with several MLS teams, the bench and the reserve team guys are competitive, hungry kids who want a shot at the big time. And if they're not as good as a USL-2 team, they have to get...you know...jobs. Crystal Palace is a great story here, but in the fairy tale, Cinderella dies in the end. New England, 4-1.

I don't even want to pretend to guess until I see some starting lineups, but I'll assume based on past experience and present form that (a) these two teams still hate each other and (b) they either want to continue winning or start winning again, no matter what or where the game.

I feel bad for DC fans who have to miss this game, and Fire fans who couldn't jaunt themselves over in midweek, because this looks like one of the Open Cup games between MLS teams that are like ordinary MLS games, but supercharged. The smaller venues, the utterly devoted and informed fans who do take the time to show up, the lack of television distractions and other first division frippery - add the existing rivalry, and this one could be a classic. Or a ninety-minute fight that ends up 0-0 going into penalties with each team ending up with eight men on the field...but that's just a different kind of classic. I flipped a coin and came up with DC 2-1.

Josh, you want to field this one?

Cries out for another coin toss, but I'll summon up a little guts, note that Charleston has been playing really well, while Dallas has, um, not, and go with the C-Bats, 1-0.

("But, Dallas is just one game out of first in the West!" No, seriously, no one is saying that, I'm just messing with you.)

Hello. I am a sucker bet. I have a tempting underdog that is playing at home, and has a lot to prove, against a struggling team from a higher division. By the way, said underdog makes a habit of winning these games. Not just last week, but twice last year...including the quarterfinals. Maybe it's their fans. Maybe it's their heart. Maybe it's their tradition. But your heart wants you to go with me, and your brain is giving you JUST ENOUGH reason to listen. Why, I'm practically a sure thing. Go on. You know you want me.

....okay, yeah. Sounders, 2-0. Hopefully I won't wake up in a bathtub full of ice missing two kidneys.

Oh, and for some reason Toronto is still in the Canadian Championship, which I think is beneath my dignity to acknowledge, but I'll check back tomorrow.