Through 18 games, Chivas USA has not fared well against Major Soccer clubs. On Wednesday evening, the Red-and-White will see how it matches up against the third tier of U.S. soccer.
Chivas USA play the Charlotte Eagles of the United Soccer League's Second Division on Wednesday in North Carolina in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.
"It's good for the team, it's good for the players -- you get money. There are a lot of incentives to do well in the Open Cup," Chivas USA striker Matt Taylor said. "It's big for teams to earn confidence and just have a productive season."
Taylor and teammate Francisco Gomez were on last year's U.S. Open Cup champion Kansas City Wizards team. Both made the trip to the East Coast and will likely start. In fact, expect to see a full Chivas USA squad play against Charlotte.
"The (Open) Cup is also a good objective," Chivas USA head coach Hans Westerhof said. "Our standing in the league table is not good so this presents us with a good opportunity to win a cup. We will play with the best team that we have possible."
Often, MLS clubs use the tournament as a way to give reserve players minutes in meaningful matches. But Chivas USA did not take such an approach. Youngsters Christian Jimenez, Victor Arbalaez and Milton Blanco did not make the trip with the rest of the team.
It is likely the club will use the same lineup it did in Saturday's 5-1 win against Real Salt Lake: Brad Guzan in goal; Ezra Hendrickson, Gomez, Esteban Arias and Armando Begines in the back; Ramon Ramirez, Francisco Mendoza and Hector Cuadros in the midfield; and Taylor, Antonio Martinez and Thiago Martins up front.
Using such a strong squad serves two reasons. First, it allows the club to maintain or build on its second win of the season. Second, it's an opportunity for the players to show that their club is not as terrible as many made it out to be.
"We're definitely taking it serious," Chivas USA's Orlando Perez said. "It's a good opportunity for us so hopefully we could do well in the Open Cup, get ourselves to the final and possibly win it. ... It will be vindication if we could win this Open Cup."
Perez, who was suspended for Saturday's MLS victory, made the trip with the club, as did Jesus Ochoa, Isaac Romo, Arturo Torres and Javier Barragan.
Part of the fun and unpredictability of the Open Cup are the upsets that happen nearly every year. Charlotte is one of four lower-division clubs trying to knock off an MLS club. When it comes to playing teams from the lower divisions, MLS often struggle.
"The danger is that when you play a team in the A-League (now USL First Division) or a division three league, of course they want to beat an MLS team," Perez said. "They always come out with a lot of energy and it makes it tough for an MLS team which is good for them. With the players that we have, the experience, we should do pretty well and get the win."
This match could not come at a better time for Chivas USA.
"It's definitely a good opportunity for us because we are a team that has been struggling," Taylor said. "If you go out and win an Open Cup, it really can turn your season around. It's a good opportunity to get games out of league and play unfamiliar opponents and if you do well, confidence is there."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.