Beyond the obvious fact that the first two rounds of the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup occur during the current edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup that kicked off Sunday, there is some extended overlap with players. The overlap will come when the Major League Soccer teams enter the competition in the Third Round, set for June 28 – three days after the Gold Cup Final.
Six of the eight MLS clubs playing in the US Open Cup this year have a total 17 players away for national team duty for the Gold Cup, representing 10 of the 12 nations (excludes Cuba & Panama).
International duty has long led to the traditional argument from MLS coaches excusing multitudes of players from Open Cup play to ensure they are properly rested for league competition. That rationale will likely come into play as the New York Red Bulls (5), Sporting Kansas City (4) and Real Salt Lake (4*) each have at least three players in action at the Gold Cup.
Perhaps hardest hit are the Red Bulls, who have three players for the CONCACAF heavyweights Mexico (Rafael Marquez) and USA (Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo) that will likely be in action in the June 25 Final. On top of that, New York arguably has the toughest MLS schedule on either side of the Open Cup Third Round road matches in Chicago on the 26th and San Jose the following Saturday.
And then there is the case of injury. On Monday Kansas City’s Craig Rocastle went down after a collision playing against Jamaica shortly before halftime. Grenada took him out of the game during the break.
The Los Angeles Galaxy, who have Donovan Ricketts (Jamaica) and Landon Donovan (USA) on international duty, also have the Champions League in their future, which will no doubt create discussion amongst Bruce Arena’s coaching staff about conserving player energy.
The other two Open Cup and Champions League clubs, FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders, are not in that situation as of yet. The two sides were the only ones among the eight MLS US Open Cup participants that did not have any players leave for the Gold Cup.
One thing is for certain. No matter what the coaches of the clubs in question decide to do, it will not have as big of an impact as the 1996 US Open Cup when the Colorado Foxes withdrew from the tournament after losing five Jamaican players to the Gold Cup, prompting the Colorado Rapids to fulfill their spot.
2011 US Open Cup Clubs & Players in Gold Cup
New York Red Bulls: Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Dane Richards (Jamaica), Dwayne DeRosario (Canada), Tim Ream (USA), Juan Agudelo (USA)
Sporting Kansas City: Craig Rocastle (Grenada), Roger Espinoza (Honduras), Shavar Thomas (Jamaica), Stephane Auvray (Guadeloupe)
Real Salt Lake: Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador), Will Johnson (Canada), Nick Rimando* (USA) – *Rimando on call as 3rd GK, staying with RSL unless needed
LA Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts (Jamaica), Landon Donovan (USA)
Chicago Fire: Marco Pappa (Guatemala)
Columbus Crew: Robbie Rogers (USA)
FC Dallas: None
Seattle Sounders: None