Fresno FC, and LAFC, both first-year clubs in American soccer, will go toe-to-toe in the longest running knockout tournament in the States. The Foxes travel to the state-of-the-art Banc of California Stadium to take on LAFC in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday.
Fresno FC needed extra time to beat Orange County FC, 2-0, in the Second Round, and followed it with another extra-time thriller in the Third Round for a 3-1 victory at Sporting Arizona FC. The Cup has brought new life to the Foxes, who have won three of their last four games overall, including a 4-0 win against Seattle Sounders 2 in a USL regular season matchup.
Los Zorros will hope to keep that momentum against a LAFC side that while new to the tournament, has seen head coach Bob Bradley and numerous players lift the Lamar Hunt Open Cup Trophy earlier in their careers. LAFC will be without four of their stars, including Mexico's Carlos Vela, due to World Cup duty.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Bob Bradley, 60, was tapped to become the first head coach for the newest MLS franchise, making a return to the United States after an unsuccessful stint with Swansea City of the English Premier League, and before that with Ligue 1's Le Havre. In Los Angeles, however, the former USMNT boss has found success helping LAFC to a 6W-3L-4D record this season and an unbeaten record at home where the club has not lost in six matches (including a 1-1 draw in a friendly against Borussia Dortmund). Bradley won his first Open Cup title 20 years ago in the Chicago Fire’s inaugural season, however, which also saw him take the double with the MLS Cup. He lifted the Lamar Hunt Trophy one more time, leading the Fire to the title again in 2000.
Missing four of its star players due to the 2018 World Cup, LAFC will rely on its depth to continue its unbeaten streak at Banc of California Stadium. Out of the picture for Wednesday's match are top scorer Carlos Vela (7 goals in 12 apps), who is with the Mexico National Team; Costa Rica's Marco Urena, Belgian defender Laurent Ciman, and Egypt's Omar Gaber. That still leaves behind one of the club's biggest offensive producers in forward Diego Rossi, who has five goals and a team-best four assists in 13 games this season. At the back of the field, LAFC will have Iranian footballer Steven Beitashour, who was left off Iran's World Cup squad after making the roster in 2014. Beitashour, along with goalkeeper Tyler Miller, have helped LAFC maintain its five-game streak at its home stadium, and collect four clean sheets through the first 13 matches. Also on the backline is USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman with national team teammate Benny Feilhaber in the midfield.
Without four starters due to the World Cup, LAFC suffered a 2-1 defeat at FC Dallas on Saturday. Recent acquisition Adama Diomande scored the lone goal for LAFC in that game, providing the score at the 61st minute after entering the match as a substitute just five minutes prior.
Fresno FC is coming off a 4-0 victory against Seattle Sounders 2 over the weekend, and back-to-back wins in the U.S. Open Cup. Jemal Johnson scored a brace against S2, with Renato Bustamante scoring late goals in each of the Foxes' extra-time wins to advance in the USOC.