MLS Cups are nice, and so are Supporters Shields. A Champions League title would be epic, and a Club World Cup win would be sublime. But the Open Cup is something else. It is the history of the American game. It’s America’s longest running soccer tournament, and one of the oldest soccer tournament in the world.
Wining the tournament means your name is etched in American soccer lore. It means joining the 105 names before it on the Dewar Trophy in the National Soccer Hall Of Fame. It means immortality in the way only a century of competition can mean.
The Fire, along with Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City, are fighting for a special place in history. All three are on four tournament wins. One win less than both Maccabi Los Angeles of the 70’s and 80’s and Bethlehem Steel of the 1920’s. All three of the teams want to join in the pantheon of greatest soccer clubs of all time. All three want to win this tournament.
The race for history starts right now.
Saint Louis are doing okay, at the moment, They’re 1-3-1 in their last five games, with a win over Sporting KC affiliate Swope Park Rangers and their loss was against Hartford Athletic, managed by former MLS goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
The trick with Open Cup lineups two fold, the First is that you have to maximize the number of Americans on the gameday roster. You can only have 8 non-Americans on the squad, so the first trick is figuring that out. There are 7 Americans in this starting XI, so that should help. Second, and most important, is to give players a chance to prove themselves that normally wouldn’t have the chance.
That’s why I want to see Andre Reynolds, Jeremiah Gutjahr, and Grant Lillard in the lineup. This game is the perfect time to see what the kids can do, and get a look at the future of the franchise.
Also, with Calvo, Frankowski, and Katai away with their national teams, It’s as good a time as any for them to step up.
Keys To The Match
Control the Game: The Fire need to play with the attitude of the big bad MLS bully. They need to give STL nothing and take everything. Smother them with possession and use your fitness edge to your advantage. Don’t worry so much about scoring The chances and goals should be a byproduct of controlling the match.
Don’t Waste Chances: That being said, when you have chances in front of net, don’t waste them. This game is the perfect opportunity to find that killer instinct that would help them once league play starts up again at the end of the month. Shooting accuracy has killed this team as much as defensive errors has, and it must get better. Now is a good time to start.
How To Watch
It should be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. The Fire are have better quality at every position, and should be fitter and well rested. But it’s a cup tie and anything can happen. Saint Louis will bring their best effort.
My prediction: STLFC 1-3 Fire.
What do you think? Do the Fire have this one in the bag? Or will it be more of a fight? Let us know in the comments below!