2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup: Rapids Not On RSL's Minds

Mike Zarrilli

Former Rapids defender Nat Borchers spoke to Patrick Shea about the US Open Cup and the difficulties with lower-division sides.

This story was submitted by reader Patrick Shea, who got a chance to talk with some folks after the Portland Timbers' win over Real Salt Lake a while back at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Real Salt Lake will travel to Atlanta Silverbacks Park for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifier on June 14.

The Colorado Rapids will host the Orlando City Lions at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on June 17.

The winners of these games will face each other. Perhaps we'll be adding an asterisk to this year's Rocky Mountain Cup competition if we see Real Salt Lake in Commerce City on June 24 or 25.

Hold your horses, however. Orlando City (USL Pro, tier 3) spanked the Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL, tier 2) 4-1 to earn a trip to Colorado on June 17. Remember, the Lions dispatched the Rapids last year, and the club will be jumping from the third-tier USL Pro to MLS in 2015. Against the Rowdies, Kevin Molino scored twice. Austin da Luz added a goal in the 22nd minute, and Adama Mbengue pumped in another. It was 4-0 at halftime. Molino has been called up for friendlies with Trinidad and Tobago.

Chris Klute came from the Silverbacks, and Eric Wynalda is still the coach of the Tier 2 team.

Cinderella can dance all night.

Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers knows about Cinderella surprises. Following a 3-1 loss to the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 8, Borchers shared his thoughts about a potential Rapids-RSL fifth-round matchup in the U.S. Open Cup.

"We're not even close to that yet," Borchers said. "We've got to worry about Atlanta first. Of course, we always like the chance to win some silverware. But it's not an easy road when you're starting in Atlanta cross-country. We'll give it everything we've got."

The former Rapids defender grew up in Pueblo, Colorado and knows the path up the ranks of American soccer.  

"We've struggled against USL teams," Borchers said, "partly because we don't know the teams very well."

Case in point: The Silverbacks play in the North American Soccer League, theoretically a notch below MLS and one above USL Pro. This is the beauty of the Open Cup. It challenges the blurry lines between all the rising levels of play in the United States.

Borchers might not know where all the teams fall in the theoretical pecking order, but he understands it doesn't matter.

"Those teams get up for it," Borchers said. "They battle. They're really tough games. It's not going to be an easy game."

While the World Cup sparkles and catches everyone's eyes, the quiet drama of emerging American soccer continues. And if the hidden story of this year's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup isn't obscure enough, take a peek at next year by reading this recap of the USASA Region IV championships in Orem, Utah.

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