Big Soccer Week with USOC, NWSL Final, Olympic QualifyingA lot of soccer is happening this week: take time to get a primer on a few of the events and games.
by Katherine Rupp | Wednesday, September 30, 2015
For soccer fans this week, oh what a time it is to be alive. Not only are there Major League Soccer games with playoff implications, the U.S. Open Cup Final is on September 30th, the NWSL Final on October 1st, and U.S. U-23 Olympic Qualifying matches. So get prepared for a wild week full of soccer – and if you’re a fan of European soccer – you’ll be in heaven.
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Union play host to visitors Sporting Kansas City for the U.S. Open Cup Final. There are a handful of players still on the Sporting roster who were part of the USOC winning squad from 2012. Because those players have had the smell of victory – and felt the elation of winning the trophy – the Wizards certainly want to bring the Cup back to KC. However, the home team won’t let Sporting take the Cup that easily. With no trophies in the case – yet – the Union and their fans are looking to keep the silverware near the River End, especially with the disappointment of defeat in last year’s Final against the Seattle Sounders. Both KC and Philly have had some ups and downs this season in MLS play, so this Final will also be vindication for either team.
The next day after either Philadelphia or Kansas City hoist a trophy, so might another Kansas City team lift a trophy or quite possibly a Seattle squad. The National Women’s Soccer League Final is scheduled for October 1st with the Seattle Reign taking on FC Kansas City in Portland at Providence Park. The news of the Final is bittersweet for FC Kansas City midfielder Lauren Holiday, who is set to retire after the game, regardless of a Blues win or loss. Whatever happens with Holiday’s sunset game, both the Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City have strong teams stocked with young and fresh-faced newbie’s and sophomoric players but also rounding out both teams are seasoned veterans who have years of experience to showcase. This year, the Reign took – ahem – the reins of the NWSL season, but the Blues were never far behind. Both deserving teams will look to take home the title of 2015 NWSL Champions and yet, only one can claim it.
Back in Kansas City, Olympic Qualifying games will be held at Sporting Park, with the U.S. U-23 team looking for a chance to redeem what disappointment happened four years ago. Last time around, the U-23 team was knocked out in the Group Stage in 2011 after an embarrassing record with a win against Cuba, a 2-0 defeat against Canada, and a 3-3 draw versus El Salvador. This year looks to be different with a team of young vets who have experience overseas (Cameron Carter-Vickers at Tottenham Hotspur, Emerson Hyndman at Fulham, Gedion Zelalem at Rangers) as well as gaining regular minutes with MLS teams like Matt Miazga with the NY Red Bulls, Matt Polster from the Chicago Fire, and Will Trapp for Columbus Crew SC. Look for some of those standouts to take charge while playing against Canada on October 1st and Cuba on October 3rd, and then also when the U-23’s take on Panama on October 6th in Denver. After a not-so-great showing in 2011, the U-23s are looking to bounce back advance during this 2015 edition.
Although most weeks of the year, even most days of the year, there is something soccer-related going on or able to watch – and this week (and running into the weekend) is no different. However, because of the breadth of soccer around, take time to watch something that may not be on the television all the time – whether it’s the U.S. Open Cup Final, NWSL Final, or Olympic Qualifying. It’ll be worth it.