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U.S. Open Cup Final Preview

This Wednesday (that’s Sept. 27 if you need the date) the 93rd Annual U.S. Soccer Federation National Championship will take place. The what, you say?

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, people. Geez…get with it.

The Chicago Fire and L.A. Galaxy will go head-to-head for the oldest trophy in United States team sports history, but sometimes it seems that people just don’t give a hoot. Even so called soccer fans.

You know what we have to say to those folks: Wake up! It’s the battle for the Dewar Cup!

In the words of Monty Burns, the Dewar Cup is “excellent.” Not only is it the oldest trophy, it is one of the cooler looking pieces of hardware any athlete can hold above his head. You’ve seen it right? No, well check out the picture to the right. Cool, right?

Primarily sterling silver, the Cup stands on a wood pedestal and is adorned with engraved silver plates that honor every championship team. Yes, every team. Starting from the 1914 Brooklyn Field Club and going up to the 2005 L.A. Galaxy. What player wouldn’t want to hold this beautiful piece of craftsmanship above their head?

(FYI…if you want to see the Cup up close and live in the Chicago area, you’re in luck. The Dewar Cup will be on display during the L.A.-Chicago game at Toyota Park this Saturday, Sept. 23. If you don’t live in Chicago, then get to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., where the Cup is always on display…except for this weekend when it’s in Chicago.)

We can tell you every player on the Fire and Galaxy will be hoping to get their team name engraved, but only one name can be added as the 2006 champion. So who will it be? Chicago? Or L.A.?

Well, after a thorough and exhausting research of past championships, statistical probabilities and player-to-player match-ups, we’ve come up with five reasons why Chicago will win and five reasons why Los Angeles will win. Ahh…who are we kidding. No one knows for sure who will win no matter how much research you do, so to be honest, some of these reasons are guesses, some are funny (well…to us), some don’t really make sense, but, amazingly, there are also a few that actually have some sort of factual basis to back them up.

Top 5 Reasons the Chicago Fire Will Win:

5. Comfort. The two teams play each other in Chicago on Saturday and since they are facing off again just four days later, the Galaxy are staying in the Windy City. That means staying in a hotel, practicing at an odd field and not getting into any kind of comfort mode. So while the Galaxy players are shuffling on their too-hard or too-soft mattresses, the Fire players will be sound asleep in the perfect comfort of their own bed.

4. It’s good to be on top. The Fire has more Open Cup titles than any MLS team with three. Guess who’s second with two? That’s right, the L.A. Galaxy is right behind them. Doing the simple math, if Chicago wins the 2006 championship, they’ll have four Open Cup titles, two more than any MLS team. But, if they lose, Los Angeles would then move into a tie with the Fire with three OC championships. You think the Fire want to share? We think not.

3. The home team is 7-1 in U.S. Open Cup finals since MLS began participating in the tournament. That bodes well for the Fire as they’ve got LA on their home turf and are undefeated in their last eight home games (7-0-1).

2. Calen Carr. The Cal-Berkley star likes the U.S. Open Cup. The Fire rookie has three goals and one assist in the tournament this year, tying him for third place in total points with seven. Tied with Landon Donovan, Carr is the highest scoring MLS player in the tournament and you can bet his confidence will be high heading into the match.

1. Tyrone Marshall. He plays for the L.A. Galaxy, you say? Ahh…that he does. But the Fire has reason to smile when they see him on the other side of the field during an Open Cup final. In 2000 while playing for the Miami Fusion, Marshall tallied the game-winning goal for Chicago when he scored an own goal. We’re thinking they might have shipped him an extra OC championship medal for the helping hand…or foot.

Top 5 Reasons the Los Angeles Galaxy Will Win:

5. Who would know the most about winning the oldest trophy in U.S. sports history than the oldest guy on the field? Going just on experience, the L.A. Galaxy has the upper hand with Cobi Jones on the team. Jones, who was born June 16, 1970, is also so small he could probably fit in the Dewar Cup, which is something his teammates should use as motivation: “Hey guys, lets win so we can put Cobi in the Cup when we celebrate!”

4. If there was one player the Galaxy could choose on the Fire not to suit up for the match, they’d choose Chris Armas. Obviously, the Galaxy don’t get to pick, but they lucked out as Armas is suspended for the final due to a red card issued to the midfielder in the Fire’s semifinal match against D.C. United. Losing the guy who controls the pitch from the middle could make things easier for Landon and his teammates.

3. Going on experience once again, L.A. has the upper hand in terms of goal scoring. Between the two teams, the Galaxy has three players with five or more goals in Open Cup play: Chris Albright (eight), Herculez Gomez (seven) and Landon Donovan (six). The Fire only has Andy Herron (five).

2. OK, this is hypothetical, but lets say for some unknown reason, every single player, coach, staff member and front-office personnel for both teams got injured, sick, went missing, whatever else and was unable to play in the game, leaving just the two General Managers to decide the outcome with a small-sided one-v-one match. Listen, we said it was hypothetical. Okay, maybe it’s a little…er...entirely unbelievable, but if it did happen, you’d have to give the edge to the Alexi Lalas and the Galaxy. Sorry John Guppy, but the Hall of Famer has you beat.

1. The Galaxy has the one player in the entire league you’d want on a one-off championship game – Landon Donovan. Everyone just stop talking about the World Cup performance and just realize he’s the best player on the field for any MLS game. Period. Donovan’s second-to-none abilities give LA the biggest advantage of all.

- 2006 U.S. Open Cup Home -

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