‘MLS didn’t want us to win!’ – Defiant Sacramento take down LA Galaxy in U.S. Open Cup after being bypassed for top-flight expansion

The USL Championship club became the first non-MLS team to advance to the semi-finals in five years

Sacramento Republic were defiant after upsetting LA Galaxy in the US Open Cup quarter-finals, with the club’s legendary striker Rodrigo Lopez sending a message to MLS commissioner Don Garber after the match.

The USL Championship side stunned their MLS counterparts with a 2-1 victory in the knockout competition, ousting the Galaxy on their home turf through goals from Lopez and Luis Felipe to become the first non-MLS side to reach the semi-finals since 2017.

Sacramento had been passed over for MLS expansion after being on the fast track to the top flight, and, after the win, Lopez said he hoped the win would prove a point to Garber and league officials. .

What did Lopez say about MLS?

“I’m sure MLS didn’t want us to win today,” he said after the win. “I’m going to be direct. I’m sure the commissioner is watching.

“If you’re MLS, you have to look at Sacramento. You have to look at our fanbase and our city.”

What is Sacramento’s history with MLS?

After establishing a strong fan base in the Californian capital, Sacramento Republic prepared an MLS bid in 2017 and, two years later, were announced as the league’s 29th team.

However, after delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lead investor Ron Burkle pulled out of the deal, putting the team’s expansion offer on indefinite hold.

MLS has expanded to Austin and Charlotte over the past two years, with St. Louis FC set to begin play in 2023 as the league’s 29th team.

Tuesday’s win was the club’s second over MLS competition in their Open Cup run, having defeated Earthquakes San Jose in the previous round.

“Honestly, I don’t think they took the game seriously and we enjoyed it,” Felipe said of Galaxy. “We took our opportunities and went for it.”

What was the Galaxy’s reaction?

The Galaxy defeat came after the club beat local rivals LAFC to reach the quarter-finals in a ferocious iteration of El Trafico.

LA have had a pretty decent start to the season in MLS as they sit fifth in the Western Conference, but head coach Gregg Vanney was infuriated by his side’s efforts in the loss to Sacramento.

“I think there are guys on our team that need to change the meter, when it comes to just intensity and competing and fighting, to a different level,” Vanney said.

“We have guys who come out and they race and they’ll get the job done and they’ll do certain things, but in these games sometimes it’s about being physical, it’s about gaining space. He it’s about winning first and it’s about some of those things.

“I think sometimes maybe, in the mentality of our group, our mindset is a bit like the game is going to be football all the time and it’s not. The base you need to have to play football is that you still have to outplay the opposition. You still have to do some of those things.

“I feel like we’re a bit light at times in this category. We didn’t play with the same intensity tonight as against LAFC, for example, or some of the other games and that can’t happen. every time, you have to play with it.”

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