Landon Donovan was in Cary Tuesday to play soccer. And he was not alone, because he brought the L.A. Galaxy with him to play. too.
There was Bruce Arena on the sidelines. Yes, that Bruce Arena, the coach who led the U.S. men’s national team to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2002. On the field was Robbie Keane, but not the retired David Beckham.
They were playing the Carolina RailHawks, a member of the National Premier Soccer League. The NPSL is a second-tier American league, a step down from the MLS.
Why were they playing the RailHawks? This was part of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a soccer tournament held in the U.S. for any teams associated with the U.S. Soccer Federation. This means amateur teams all the way up to MLS teams can try for the cup.
The tournament predates MLS, but it is a good vehicle to show off MLS teams to fans without a team as well as encourage participation in the tournament itself. You literally might face Landon Donovan as the RailHawks had to do Tuesday.
You might expect that the Galaxy had their way with the poor RailHawks and if you looked at possession or shots on goal you would have been right. However the final score was 1-0 Carolina with the winning goal coming in extra time (soccer equivalent of overtime, if it remains scoreless they go to penalty kicks) from substitute forward Daniel Jackson.
The other heroes of the game included the back line of the RailHawks and backup keeper and UNC product Scott Goodwin, who kept the ball out of the goal despite the many hacks that the Galaxy took at it.
If you’ve read this far, you might think this is the most exciting thing to ever happen to the RailHawks. Yet the RailHawks are 3-0 against the Galaxy lifetime and 6-4 against MLS teams, so they do this stuff all the time! They advance to the quarterfinals to face another MLS team, FC Dallas.
Based on their record they just might win. Go Carolina!