What do the LA Galaxy, FC Dallas, Columbus Crew, Houston Dynamo, Chicago Fire, New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake all have in common? They got knocked out by lower tier teams in the third round of the Open Cup last night. It was an MLS bloodbath of sorts. Going in, we didn't know how many teams would be taking the Open Cup seriously and for the ones that didn't, we saw how seriously the NASL was planning on taking it after sitting out a year in 2011.
Fortunately, the Colorado Rapids took their game about as seriously as they could considering the injuries that were limiting their lineup and were able to escape Tampa Bay with a 3-1 win -- and one of the more convincing wins of the night by an MLS squad considering the upsets everywhere -- over the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The game actually started a bit frighteningly for the Rapids, who had one of the earlier starts of the night. The Rowdies got several good set piece chances fairly close to the eighteen yard box thanks to a somewhat mediocre back line featuring Scott Palguta and Tyrone Marhsall in the center. Luke Mulholland's set pieces struck the crossbar twice early on, but the Rapids were able to settle it down after.
They scored their first goal on a penalty kick; Draymond Washington had the ball smack his arm while in front of the goal, which was a clear denial of a shot that probably would have gone in. Edu stepped up to take it and easily scored his first ever goal for Colorado.
Goal number two came after a bit more skill than just a PK. Wells Thompson made a smart and tough run through the near side past a handful of defenders before letting loose a pass to a streaking and wide open Andre Akpan, who buried a shot from just inside the 18. It was perfectly placed and keeper Jeff Attinella had very little chance to do anything about it.
After the half, the roles reversed in style of play. While the Rowdies had been doing some bunkering and counter attack work in the first half, they tried to go more on the attack in their 4-3-3 formation in the second, but not to great success as the Rapids put their guys back and were more than happy to cede possession. Kamani Hill came into the game as a starter this time around but did what he does, scoring a late game clincher in the 91st minute. The Rowdies responded with a 'goal' that didn't actually cross the line all the way from Matt Clare a minute later, but the damage was done and the Rapids took the win as the whistle blew after a bit of argument from Steward Ceus.
The Rapids will now face one of the few other MLS teams to make it through, Sporting Kansas City, on June 5th, exactly a week from the Rowdies game. They'll have some time to heal up by that point and could perhaps have a bolstered roster including guys like Jamie Smith and Conor Casey.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Steward Ceus. A six save performance with a lot of big ones that kept the game from going into doubt. Looked a lot more sure of himself than the Ceus we saw in the CCL last season, which is a very good sign going forward for the young shot stopper.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: The Tampa Bay Rowdies announcing team. That was the worst announcing of a soccer game I've ever heard. Facts were butchered, (they at one point said that Tony Cascio was the team's leading scorer) homerism was rampant, (a handball in the box was complained about for being called a penalty for 10 minutes, while two guys bumping shoulders in the box was met with a 'WOW, AND ANOTHER NO CALL!') and at some points it just got flippin' weird. (''You know what we haven't heard of in a while? Tazmanian sports teams.'')