The San Jose Earthquakes loss last night 1-0 to the LA Galaxy in the round of sixteen of the US Open Cup will be viewed by different people in different ways.
Quakes fans might console themselves by saying the important result was last weekend’s 3-1 victory over LA in the California Clasico that added 3 valuable points to their team's bid to qualify for the MLS Cup.
Galaxy fans might feel a measure of revenge.
San Jose players might rue missed opportunities, LA players relish another game won, both sets of players will be hoping their efforts caught their head coach’s eye, for the right reasons.
There are those might suppose that things like the US Open Cup surely don’t matter as much as the regular MLS season and the holy grail of the MLS Cup.
In this Open Cup fixture both San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy chose starting lineups that included just one starting player each from the California Clasico game four days earlier.
Surely, head coaches are protecting players from possible injury a couple of days ahead of their next MLS games.
When asked how important the Open Cup games are in evaluating player choices in preparation for injury/suspension hits down the line in the regular season, Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear is deadly serious in his reply:
“It’s very useful. I mean you look at it and they put out a secondary team and we put out a team of guys who haven’t played a ton of minutes but of guys who’ve played a lot of games in MLS. You want to see how they respond. Ask everyone in that locker room if they want to play, and will tell you the answer is yes. And that’s what you want. Now the opportunity of what they do with that is the most important.”
Kinnear further said that he asked his players not to go out on the field with the intention of playing a good game, but with the intention of winning. He talked of Chris Wondolowski’s incredible hunger to score goals and said he wanted that same hunger to find the net from all of his players, not just his strikers; reference Clarence Goodson’s goal against LA in the last game.
As for the players, competitions like the US Open are a chance to get minutes on the field, a chance to shine in the eyes of the head coach and stake a place should injury or suspension keep a regular starter out of a game.