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Soccer

U.S. Open Cup adds to busy schedule for LAFC, Galaxy

The established Galaxy and the expansion L.A. Football Club don’t appear to have much in common these days.

The Galaxy are unbeaten in three of their last four Major League Soccer games, matching their best streak in more than a year. In two of those games they posted shutouts.

LAFC is winless in its last four. In two of those games, the team lost defenders to red cards.

There is one thing they have in common though. After six games in less than a month, neither is necessarily excited about having to play an unscheduled midweek game against a non-league opponent. Yet both will be doing exactly that Wednesday when they begin play in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the oldest national soccer competition in the country.

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The Galaxy start their tournament against the FC Golden State Force at StubHub Center’s track stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. LAFC will play at Banc of California Stadium against the Fresno Football Club. That game will begin at 7.

Given the grind of the MLS schedule, both teams will play mostly reserves. The Galaxy are also expected to call up players from Galaxy II, their United Soccer League affiliate, with captain Julian Buescher and forward Ethan Zubak among the likely candidates.

The 97-team U.S. Open Cup features clubs from MLS and the United Soccer League, the top two tiers on the U.S. Soccer pyramid, as well as amateur teams from across the country. The winner qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions League.

MLS teams don’t enter the competition until the fourth round and often open against teams from lower leagues. FC Golden State Force, a three-year-old amateur team from Whittier, plays in the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League.

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LAFC will have a much tougher test because Fresno plays in the second-tier USL. Fresno is also the first team LAFC will play that is actually younger, because Fresno didn’t play its first game until March 17, 13 days after LAFC’s debut.

Fresno’s roster includes players from 11 countries, including some with MLS experience. Frank Yallop, the team’s general manager, coached the Canadian national team and managed 14 years in MLS, including two seasons with the Galaxy.

The winners of Wednesday’s games advance to the tournament’s round of 16, which will be played during the World Cup break for both the Galaxy and LAFC. The draw for the next round will be held Thursday.


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