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5 things to watch as the Lights FC play in US Open Cup

Updated May 28, 2019 - 11:07 pm

On Wednesday the Lights FC continue their second run in the U.S. Open Cup soccer tournament.

What is the U.S. Open Cup? Who could make a difference for them in this event? What are the spoils they reap with a victory?

Here are five areas to keep track of in the match at Cashman Field against Orange County FC.

1. U.S. Open Cup

The soccer tournament is America’s longest running and biggest domestically with its 106th edition. Former UCLA and Lights defender, Javen Torre says, “it’s our version of the FA Cup in England.” Lights striker Parra says, “to win a domestic cup for the country is pretty impressive and I feel we’re on the run for that.”

Every team in every professional level of U.S. soccer is eligible. This season 84 teams are competing with 21 from Major League Soccer and 25 from USL Championship division.

This the third round with the Lights advancing with a first-round bye and a second-round 2-0 victory over Cal FC of the UPSL Premier Division.

“It’s the only competition that involves every team in it, so the word open really means open,” Coach Eric Wynalda said. “So it always creates these wonderful stories of amateur teams that get their act together and then they have an opportunity, whether they’re a pub team or their semi-professional or just amateur straight-up, they can with good performances and victories end up playing against one of the big guys…”

2. The winner gets …

To the winner goes a fourth-round matchup against an MLS team, likely the the Los Angeles Galaxy. The bracket is not set in stone, but the Lights could get that match at home. A coin flip will determine the home team.

In fact, Wynalda wants to face the Galaxy and MLS star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

“I would love for Zlatan to come here. I’m a fan of his, but I’m gonna start a fight. That’s the way I am,” Wynalda said. “I know that he has said, he’s very arrogant in some of his comments, ‘I am MLS’. So we would love the opportunity to have him here and beat him.”

3. Sammy Ochoa

While five to six players will be on the sideline because they previously played in qualifying phases, strong forward and former Seattle Sounders FC player Sammy Ochoa will be on hand. . Ochoa believes everyone is on the same page and says, “we’re ready, we’re excited, and ready to go on the next round.” Ochoa said coach Wynalda’s style of play is that he “likes to attack” and that may be what is needed to make up for the lost players.

4. Back line

Lights defender Gabe Robinson will be out because of that qualifying rule. Robinson has has not missed a minute in Las Vegas. Layer that in with defenders Kevin Garcia Lopez, Big West Conference Player of the Year at UC-Santa Barbara, and Eric Gonzalez scratched from competition, the back line will need to step up. Reliable midfielder Mobi Fehr will be returning from a red card suspension.

5. Goalkeeping

Thomas Olsen has five shutouts but Rancho High School graduate Angel Alvarez will get the start instead. An All-Southeast League selection, Alvarez plays in a soccer field that is about a mile from his high school.

Contact Jonathan Eskin at jeskin@reviewjournal.com

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