Five matches and then a trophy. Our 2019 U.S. Open Cup quest begins in Utah.
LAFC faces Real Salt Lake in the fourth round of the Open Cup on Tuesday. In 2018, it took three matches before LAFC had to test itself on the road in the nation's oldest knockout competition. This year, the draw sees Bob Bradley and his team travel right out the gates.
The Black & Gold's brief history in the Open Cup is one of both successes and near misses. In its inaugural run in the competition, LAFC became one of three MLS sides to reach the semifinal round in its expansion season - Seattle 2011 and Chicago 1998. While the Black & Gold were undefeated in regular time in the competition, they fell short of the final in a penalty shootout to eventual winners Houston Dynamo.
This year's tournament has a bit of added intrigue provided by concurrently running international tournaments. Both LAFC and RSL will be without players as they participate in this summer's Open Cup and Copa America tournaments. Missing from LAFC in this first match will be Mark-Anthony Kaye (Canada), Peter-Lee Vassell (Jamaica), Walker Zimmerman (USA), and Tyler Miller (USA).
Here's a look at LAFC's entrance into the 2019 U.S. Open Cup against Real Salt Lake:
Open Cup: LAFC at Real Salt Lake | June 11 at 7:00pm PT
Where To Watch
TV: Streaming on ESPN+
Official LAFC Watch Party: The Fields LA
Mike Petke's team was brought back to earth in recent weeks with consecutive losses on the back of a three-match winning streak. Both losses came away from home, where RSL is just 2-6-1 in the MLS regular season. As the hosts of this match, RSL will feel much better about its chances. Petke's side is 4-2-0 at home in MLS play. However, RSL won't look to previous years in this round of the Open Cup for inspiration. In both 2017 and 2018, the Claret and Cobalt have been bounced at this stage of the tournament.
What The Players Are Saying
Christian Ramirez gives his thoughts on the U.S. Open Cup's appeal to players: "It's a good way to get into the Concacaf Champions League. It's the longest-standing tournament in the U.S. It's a tournament that I've played in since college. And it's a fun tournament. You get that feeling of do-or-die in each game. If you take it seriously... it can take your team somewhere. It can really propel you, not just in Open Cup, but the rest of the season."
Diego Rossi on the pursuit of the Club's first trophy: "It's important to have the first trophy for the Club. We are working for that. We are all together. This is something that we'd like to win."
Projected LAFC Starting XI
(4-3-3): Pablo Sisniega; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Danilo Silva, Tristan Blackmon; Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing, Lee Nguyen; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.
What To Watch For
New Faces: With four players away on international duty, LAFC has a few spots to fill in its starting 11 to begin this Open Cup run. As Tyler Miller prepares for his first tournament with the U.S. Men's National Team, Pablo Sisniega is almost a sure thing to start in goal for the first time this season for LAFC. Danilo Silva is another player looking to make an impact in this competition. The Brazilian has appeared in just three matches this season, including two starts, but the center back was influential to LAFC's run to the MLS Cup playoffs last season. He'll fill the spot of Walker Zimmerman in an LAFC backline that has conceded just 13 times in 16 matches this season.
Knockout Revenge: Real Salt Lake is the only side to knockout LAFC out of a competition in regular time in the Black & Gold's history. Last year's 3-2 defeat in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs still resonates with the LAFC players that suffered through it in 2018. While LAFC got a modicum of revenge against RSL with a last-minute 2-1 early in the 2019 MLS season, knocking out Mike Petke's team at Rio Tinto would be that much sweeter.
Rossi On The Mark: Diego Rossi enjoyed his first foray into Open Cup play in 2018. The Uruguayan led LAFC in goals in the tournament with five, including a hat trick to force extra time in the semifinal at Houston. Rossi scored in all but one Open Cup match last season. In 2018, Rossi made history by scoring LAFC's first-ever MLS goal and Open Cup goal. He started 2019 by scoring LAFC's first of the season. Will he do the same in against RSL on Tuesday in the Open Cup?