Only one of the matches (Saturday’s MLS Cup rematch @ the LA Galaxy) counts toward the MLS Cup standings. The other, a Wednesday night match at the San Jose Earthquakes, is part of the qualification tournament for the US Open Cup.
RSL desperately needs to win or draw in LA to keep up with the 3-0 Galaxy – playing starters on Thursday will hurt this attempt as those that play will still recovering going into Saturday’s match. In contrast, if RSL doesn’t win Thursday, the side will be eliminated from the US Open Cup. This external tournament is very prestigious and its winner gets the opportunity to play in the CONCACAF Champions League next season.
Trying to divide and conquer risks losing both. Going for only one misses out on a great opportunity.
Which is more important to Kreis? How many starters will play on Thursday night?
Losing Thursday would end RSL’s chances at the US Open Cup, while losing Saturday can be overcome long term; however, the MLS Cup is the ultimate goal of the side. Balancing these priorities is the unenviable task Coach Kreis faces this week.
During the next few days, we will post previews of both matches; however, we won’t really know what to expect until the starting lineup is released for Thursday’s match. That should tell us how Kreis plans to approach the coming week and how important the US Open Cup is to him.
US OPEN CUP
The US Open Cup is considered to be the US National Championship in Soccer. It includes MLS as well as other professional, semi-pro, and amateur teams in a knockout tournament.
The top six MLS teams in the regular season automatically qualify for the US Open Cup tournament the following season. The remaining MLS teams play a single elimination tournament for the final two spots. Since RSL finished with the 8th best record in MLS last season, they have to compete for this spot.
They will play in San Jose Thursday night. If they win, they will take on the winner of FC Dallas and DC United (location TBD). Winning both matches would qualify RSL for the US Open Cup tournament.