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Climbing the Ladder: Long layoffs and Open Cup rule

Thierry Henry

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

With Hurricane Irene causing the postponement of three games over the weekend, followed by MLS taking a lighter schedule over the international break, several teams will now be subject to an extended period of rest in the middle of the season. The New York Red Bulls and D.C. United lead the way, with 21 and 20 days between games, respectively.

Most Days Between Regular-Season Games

DAYS TEAM GAME 1 GAME 2
36 NE 07-04-2008 08-09-2008
29 LA 07-07-2007 08-05-2007
27 CHV 06-14-2009 07-11-2009
25 LA 07-17-2001 08-11-2001
24 CHI 07-08-2010 08-01-2010
23 CHV 07-10-2008 08-02-2008
22 NE 06-05-2010 06-27-2010

It’s rare to go three weeks between games, but not quite record-breaking. The longest break between two regular-season games is claimed by the 2008 New England Revolution (at right).

The break was originally only supposed to be 29 days, but a game on Aug. 2 of that year was moved to midseason. During those 36 days, New England played a US Open Cup quarterfinal and advanced, then embarked on a SuperLiga journey that saw the team win the trophy on penalties against Houston, gaining some measure of revenge after two straight MLS Cup defeats to the Dynamo.

Until the advent of the SuperLiga, the LA Galaxy’s 2001 season held the record. That’s due to the 2001 FIFA Club World Championship, which was supposed to be held that summer in Spain but ended up being canceled in May. The Galaxy had moved several games after winning the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, but never ended up facing Real Madrid and others as scheduled. At least they received some money from the ordeal.

The Galaxy did have an Open Cup match during that time off, and six others on the list all had their seasons scheduled around the SuperLiga. However, New England’s 22-day layoff last season didn’t have any additional games in there. It’s the longest length of time between regular season games without any competitive games in between. Half the league got a full three weeks off due to the 2010 World Cup, but the Revs were the only one to get 22 days instead of 21.

The Revs were 3-8-2 before the break, and went 6-8-3 down the stretch en route to missing the postseason.

2. Seattle remain on track for US Open Cup three-peat.

Three years into their MLS existence, and it’s now 11 games unbeaten for Seattle in the US Open Cup after the 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Tuesday night. And that record streak doesn’t even include the two qualifiers they played in 2009.

With that form and the advantage of hosting the final against the Chicago Fire (home teams are 10-3 in Open Cup finals during the MLS era), the Sounders will surely be favorites when the two teams meet for the cup on Oct. 4, despite the Fire’s own pedigree as four-time winners.

This year, the Sounders won the season series between the two teams with a 2-1 result at home and a scoreless draw away. In the 12 years where two MLS teams met in the final, only once has a team lost the season series and won the Open Cup. That was in 2004, where Chicago lost to Kansas City despite taking the season series 2-0-1.

As for the Fire, the second-half goal they allowed in the 2-1 victory over Richmond didn’t factor into the result, but it was the first they’ve allowed in their run to the final. That ensures that the 1996 D.C. United squad will remain the only MLS team to win the tournament without allowing a goal (7-0 goal difference), though they only had to play three games to do so.