US Open Cup, Campeones Cup tonight
Inter Miami host Houston tonight in the US Open Cup Final. Kickoff is set for 8:30 pm ET on CBS Sports Network and Telemundo. Afterward, stick around for the Campeones Cup as LAFC take on Tigres. Kickoff for that one is at 11 pm ET on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. And, just for good measure, they threw a couple of regular season games in as well. Take a look at the full schedule here.
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A US Open Cup Final-Campeones Cup doubleheader? Two…other games? It’s a heckuva night for MLS teams. Let’s take a quick look at what might happen before we surrender control to whatever higher being is tasked with controlling MLS outcomes. Let’s be real, they’re probably whatever Heaven’s version of an intern is.
Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | 7:30 pm ET
I would typically be more excited about a game between two teams with this much talent and this much at stake when it comes to the playoff race. The Union are tied on points with three other teams in the East and just two points out of second place. Dallas are stuck in ninth place for now, but have at least a game in hand on most of the teams they’re chasing. In this version of the West, that means you’re generally like two wins away from being in second place. Actually, one second…[checking]...well, look at that. If Dallas win tonight, they could be in sixth place, just three points out of second.
Anyway, it’s still tough to count this one as a headliner. The Union are coming off a game that finished with a grand total of 0.4 xG and zero shots on goal. Dallas have had a tendency lately to play the most normal soccer games of all time. In particular, 1-1 draws with Seattle and Columbus over the last couple of weeks felt wholly vanilla. Even if they did sandwich a great performance against RSL in between.
The good news is both teams are due for a little more excitement. The MLS games you least expect to devolve into madness have a habit of spinning out of control anyway. Maybe Dallas, with their back increasingly against the wall, will enter fight or flight mode and open things up.
US Open Cup Final
Inter Miami CF vs. Houston Dynamo FC
WATCH: CBS Sports Network, Telemundo | 8:30 pm ET
Most likely no Jordi Alba for this one. Maybe some Lionel Messi though? It seems like he won’t start, but will at least see the field at some point in this one. That means there’s a window of opportunity here for Houston. They’ve proven over and over the last few weeks that they have the ability to rip teams apart with beautiful team goals and a goalscorer-by-committee approach. Now they have to find a way to get that approach working early and often against the Herons before Tournament Messi comes on to score three consecutive free kicks.
It’s totally plausible the Dynamo put something special together here, though. Since Leagues Cup, they’ve taken 11 points from seven games, including wins over RSL, Vancouver and Columbus and a draw with St. Louis. They faltered for the first time in a while against SKC over the weekend, but can you blame them for looking ahead? This is the biggest match for Houston since their last US Open Cup Final in 2018.
Frankly, this one is bigger. For a number of reasons. It’s against the most-watched MLS team in the world right now. It’s against Messi. And it’s potentially the first major success of a new era in Houston. You can go back through a couple of years of Daily Kickoffs and see that we’ve been talking about the Dynamo slowly building towards something bigger and better for a while now. This year has shown proof of concept no matter what happens tonight. However, a trophy would feel like a well-earned reward and another step on the path towards revitalizing the club.
Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | 9:30 pm ET
It’s the end of a seven-game road trip for Vancouver. Yeah, it’s at altitude. Yeah, it’s been a long time away from home. But the rule this year is that you have to take care of business against Colorado. You just have to. A loss here with a final stretch of D.C., St. Louis, Seattle and LAFC could put the Whitecaps in a position they really, really don’t want to be in.
LAFC vs. Tigres
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | 11 pm ET
It’s time for another LAFC attempt at a trophy against a Liga MX team. This…uh…typically doesn’t go well. It’s a trend that started with Tigres back in 2020 when LAFC surrendered a late lead in the CCL Final and continued recently with LAFC’s CCL Final loss to Club León and their Leagues Cup loss to Monterrey.
This one feels a little different, though, and not in a good way. In recent matchups against Liga MX sides, we’ve gone so far as to call LAFC the favorite. Or at least a team with the clear ability to go toe-to-toe with Liga MX’s best. I’m not confident in that at all at this point. LAFC have been sputtering since the CCL Final and, even with a less congested schedule, have looked remarkably beatable. Carlos Vela has started to show his age, the midfield isn’t controlling games and the team as a whole feels disjointed on some level. They’ve won twice in seven games since Leagues Cup and those wins came against Colorado and the Galaxy.
They’re coming into this one off of back-to-back 0-0 games that have been totally antithetical to what we normally expect from a high-flying LAFC side. Even against two of the best teams in the league in St. Louis and Philly, you just expect more. They haven’t had that gear for a while now.
With Tigres coming to town, it’s a terrible time to not have that gear. As always, Tigres have a loaded roster. They’ve earned a very respectable 17 points from their first nine Liga MX games and have the best goal differential in the league over that span. And…like…they’re Tigres. They just beat up on people. Especially MLS teams.
Maybe this is the kind of challenge that wakes LAFC up out of their slump. I thought that might happen against Philadelphia over the weekend, but maybe I was one game early. Or maybe we get another look at an LAFC team that’s changed a little too much for the worse since MLS Cup.
Good luck out there. It’s a whale. With a soccer ball. The world is good actually.