Wednesday’s soccer news starts with the final of the 2023 US Open Cup and the annual conversation about not just importance, but how it fits into the overall club schedule. This time around, it’s the same night as the Campeones Cup, beginning a few hours later in Los Angeles. It’s the Open Cup available on cable television, with Inter Miami hosting Houston on CBS Sports at 8:30pm ET. Apple TV has the Campeones Cup at 11pm ET, a one-game final of finals between Liga MX and MLS.
That’s quite the late September Wednesday night, with two trophies on offer and a guarantee that an MLS club lifts at least one of them. Inter Miami’s run through the Leagues Cup means they’re now playing for a second trophy in a season where they’re currently 14th in the Eastern Conference. That could change quickly and in no way tells us much, if anything, about Inter Miami right now. What does is how they won the Leagues Cup, going to extra rounds of penalties at Nashville and showing how much pressure their squad can shoulder.
Houston is also playing at a different level than they were earlier this season. Head coach Ben Olsen’s press conferences present their own case study in expectation management, where good enough for a result is seldom good enough for his take on the club’s bigger picture. While they’re coming off a loss at Sporting Kansas City, that ended a seven-game undefeated run that has the Dynamo in 4th-place in the West, tied on points with 5th-place Seattle and trailing LAFC in 2nd and Seattle in 3rd by two points. All four of those teams have played 30 games.
Inter Miami’s obvious differences have to include the players that have stepped into roles that only exist based on a higher level of play. That’s a squad statement, centering around the skill levels of Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets bue needing plenty to have that work as well as we’ve seen.
Houston is getting goal creation from Hector Herrera and goalkeeping from Steve Clark. In a season without a lot of differentiation, that helps create the kind of consistency we’ve seen from the Dynamo. Breaking them down is a challenge. Keeping them out normally means splitting the points, like the 1-1 draw against Western Conference leaders St Louis a few weeks ago and the two 0-0 draws during their undefeated run.
What league form really means in a knockout final is the question, also asked by LAFC hosting Tigres for the Campeones Cup. LAFC is eight points back of St Louis at the top of the Western Conference and also second on goal difference +10 to City’s +19. They drew 0-0 at St Louis last Wednesday and finished 0-0 at Philadelphia on Saturday. As buildups go, they did beat the Galaxy 4-2 at home on September 16 after losing 2-0 at Portland. No surprise, the game with the goals saw Denis Bouanga score twice, and he’s a goal off a tie for the league lead with 14.
Tigres won West 1 at Leagues Cup, exiting to Monterrey in the round of 16. LAFC made it to the quarterfinals, losing 3-2 to Monterrey. Tigres shutout Monterrey 3-0 at home on Saturday, sitting 3rd in Liga MX a point behind Club America and two back from San Luis after nine rounds.
It’s that single-game scenario where looking for commonalities and carryovers from league play can certainly set expectations. As we’ve already seen this season, that’s also where moments have a stubborn tendency to push past analysis.
Moving to the soccer scores, Weston McKennie subbed out in the 87th minute for Tim Weah in Juventus’s 1-0 home win over Lecce in Serie A. Arkadiusz Milik scored in the 57th minute and Lecce saw red three minutes into stoppage time.
Chris Richards’s Crystal Palace lost 3-0 at Manchester United in the third round of the League Cup. United scored in the 21st, 27th, and 55th minutes. Andrew Wooten was on the bench for Preussen Munster in their 4-0 home loss to Bayern Munich in the first round of the DFB Pokal. Bayern scored in the 9th, 40th, 45th, five minutes into first-half stoppage time, and the 86th.
THURSDAY’S SOCCER TV
Super Lig on beIN Sport: Fenerbahce vs Basaksehir at 1pm. La Liga on ESPN Deportes: Granada vs Real Betis at 1pm and Osasuna vs Atletico Madrid at 3:30pm. Serie A on CBS Sports: Genoa vs AS Roma at 2:45pm. Primeira Liga on GolTV: Estrela vs Braga at 3:15pm. Copa Libertadores on beIN Sport: Boca Juniors vs Palmeiras at 8:30pm. Liga MX on TUDN: Atlas vs Puebla at 10pm ET.
All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at email@example.com
Photo by LAFC