The LA Galaxy are headed back to North Carolina for the US Open Cup, and Bruce Arena is not pleased.
The Galaxy's head coach and general manager said his team's May 29 third-round USOC assignment, which will be determined by the winner of next week's clash between the NASL's Carolina RailHawks and USL Premier Development League's Carolina Dynamo, was “ridiculous” and sent a message that the century-old tournament was “not important.”
The Galaxy lost in their Open Cup opener last year against the RailHawks in Cary, N.C. The farthest they'd previously traveled for an Open Cup game during Arena's tenure was Seattle.
Arena was asked about the Open Cup assignments, which were announced Wednesday, after LA's 4-1 victory over Philadelphia.
“Ridiculous. What more can I say?” he responded to media at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. “We're the premier club in the country, and we're being shuffled off like that again, and they're basically saying – they're telling us the Open Cup's not important when they do stuff like that. “It's really ridiculous, but it's life. What are you going to do?”
Arena seemed most unhappy to have to head across the country for a match three days after the Galaxy's first MLS meeting with the Seattle Sounders, on May 26 at the Home Depot Center. They will travel from North Carolina – the amateur Dynamo play in Greensboro – for an MLS game June 2 in New England.
Highlights: PHI 1, LA 4
LA is the only MLS team certain to make a cross-country trip for a third-round game, although Colorado (at Orlando City SC), San Jose (at Charleston Battery) and Seattle (at Tampa Bay Rowdies) also would make long trips if the favored teams in their bracket win their second-round matches. Chicago and FC Dallas also could have games on the East Coast.
The Galaxy under Arena have been home for two Open Cup play-in games, in 2008 and 2009, and their third-round match against AC St Louis in 2010. They've played their last four tournament games on the road, with two games against the Sounders in Tukwila, Wash., and another against the LA Blues at nearby Cal State Fullerton – the Galaxy's Open Cup home field until HDC opened – before the 2-1 loss last year to the RailHawks.
U.S. Soccer governs the Open Cup, which is in its 100th edition, and most third-round pairings are set on a regional basis. MLS has a greater Western footprint than do the other American leagues involved in the tournament, so it is impossible to avoid some cross-country matchups.
“This thing, they've got to figure out how to get it regionalized,” Arena said. “Trips across the country midweek after a Sunday night game, it doesn't work. It doesn't make any sense. It really doesn't, in my opinion, and I know someone has to do it, but it's odd that we have to do it every year. It's stupid.
“And if they want the US Open Cup to mean more, the premier clubs in the country can't be shuffled around like that. ... But that's life.”