US Open Cup: Meet the Cal United Strikers FC, the mighty small squad with a chance to debunk the LA Galaxy | OneFootball

US Open Cup: Meet the Cal United Strikers FC, the mighty small squad with a chance to debunk the LA Galaxy

Logo: Território MLS

Território MLS

New league team NISA beat USL Access Division FC Tucson in Arizona and now aim to clash with the mighty LA Galaxy in their home stadium with a chance to make history.

California United Strikers, LA Galaxy rivals in US Open Cup. (Reprodução/Site Oficial)

The magic of cups is the duel between giants and more modest clubs, and in the United States Cup (US Open Cup), this is no different.

The round of 16 stage takes place between Tuesday (10) and Wednesday (11), with a few local and regional clashes now set, including the game between the California United Strikers and LA Galaxy. This game takes place on Wednesday at 23:30, Brasília time, a game we plan to cover at the Championship Stadium in Orange County to follow the duel live.

Before having the opportunity to host the LA Galaxy, the Strikers went to Arizona to face a theoretically stronger side. Though no betting house or website registered odds for this game, it was somewhat surprising to see a NISA side beating FC Tucson, a team from the USL League One, while playing away from home and qualifying for the round of 16 of the US Open Cup.

Meet the Cal United Strikers, LA Galaxy’s next opponent

Last week, we spoke with Strikers President and General Manager Michael Collins, a former US national team player, about the club, plans, and the game in anticipation of the match.

President and GM Michael Collins bring more than three decades of valuable soccer experience and leadership to California United Strikers FC. Following a professional playing career that spanned nearly 20 years and included two Caps for the USMNT, Collins ventured into a soccer career behind the scenes, both on the administrative and coaching sides. From the creation then management of camps/clinics to coaching at some of the top youth clubs in Southern California, Michael has done a little bit of everything leading him to the California United Strikers FC front office.

The first time we spoke, he was going to New York and about to play the Syracuse Pulse. That was days after a tough match against a competent USL side in Tucson, AZ, where the improbable happened: a NISA side survived yet another round in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with an injury-time goal scored by a newcomer who had joined the roster recently. “Many guys who have fallen through the cracks; a lot of them overlooked,” – said Michael of the league’s roster distribution.

The Strikers have always played in the NISA (third division), and in their first year, they were champions before Detroit City (now in the USL) became the big bogeyman of the league. The current form has been near outstanding, and it should set a big red flag for the LA Galaxy’s coaching staff as they prepare for Cal United.

“Hats off to the FC Tucson organization for being excellent hosts to our team. Everything was top-notch from the hotel to the facilities,” said Michael of his hosts, days after sending them back to the USL while he gets to play host to the LA Galaxy, one of the most well-known franchises in MLS and minutes away up the 405 freeway.

A Team Not Used to Losing; NISA Magic

Since last year, the Strikers haven’t lost a game in their league, making the club a solid favorite to win the trophy in 2022 now that Detroit City has left the league.

Speaking of Detroit City, the “le rouge” eliminated Columbus in the last round of the Cup, bringing, even more hope to the Strikers, as both teams grew up in the same league (NISA).

To focus on the match against Galaxy, the team also asked the league to postpone last weekend’s contest to have the athletes 100% against the MLS opponent.

LA Galaxy: The Most Important Game

The clash against LA Galaxy is, without a doubt, the most important in the history of the California United Strikers. If not the most important, it is undoubtedly the biggest.

Collins made it clear that the Strikers will try to make the most of the historic day when talking about the match: “We will welcome the Galaxy and their fans to our house. We always have the chance to play friendlies against them, against LAFC, and everyone knows they have outstanding players, some of the best we have in the United States,” he said.

“For sure, it will be a great day and a tough game, but it is football. Anything can happen within the 90 minutes,” he concluded.

The Strikers will host the LA Galaxy knowing that, if they win, they will make history and enter the US soccer map for good. Impossible? That word doesn’t exist within football, especially when the prize is the Lamar Hunt Trophy US Open Cup.

Collaborated: Celso Oliveira and Pedro Breganholi

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