LAFC is authoring an extensive rewrite of Major League Soccer’s record book this season, but as coach Bob Bradley continues to remind, none of that means anything as long as the team’s trophy case remains bare.
“We haven’t even figured out where the space for a trophy case is going to be,” he said earlier this year. “You can’t get ahead of yourself.”
Bradley’s team could take a big step toward its first prize Wednesday when it meets the Portland Timbers in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup at Banc of California Stadium. LAFC beat its MLS rival at home in the quarterfinals of last year’s Open Cup before losing to eventual champion Houston on penalty kicks in the semifinals.
Wednesday’s game comes during a crowded stretch for LAFC, which is playing five games in 17 days. Bradley’s roster will be receiving reinforcements with center back Walker Zimmerman and goalkeeper Tyler Miller returning from Gold Cup duty with the U.S. men’s national team, although it’s uncertain whether either will be available to play against Portland.
LAFC captain Carlos Vela, who leads MLS with 19 goals and 12 assists in 19 games, has scored in each of the team’s two Open Cup wins, over Real Salt Lake and San Jose, also their MLS rivals.
The winner of Wednesday’s match will play the winner of the other quarterfinal, between MLS club Minnesota United and New Mexico United of the second-tier USL Championship, in next month’s tournament semifinals.
The U.S. Open Cup, being held for the 106th time, is the oldest ongoing competition in U.S. soccer.