As NASL clubs have proven this year, anything can happen in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The Carolina RailHawks were one of three teams from their league to upset a club from the MLS in the fourth round of the tournament, beating Chivas USA 2-1 (3-2 PKs) on June 14.
Carolina is the only one of those NASL teams to host its upcoming fifth-round matchup, as the RailHawks will have a familiar opponent when the Los Angeles Galaxy will come to town Tuesday to play on Field 2 behind WakeMed Soccer Stadium.
Cary native Zack Schilawski, the lone RailHawks goal-scorer in the Chivas USA victory, has been on both sides.
“It’s tough for them. It’s like a lose-lose. If you win, you’re expected to win. If you lose, everyone is like, ‘Oh, you lost to the guys from the second division.’ So we take advantage of that, and make sure we’re up for it,” Schilawski said.
The game will mark the third time in as many years that the RailHawks will have played host to both Chivas USA and the Galaxy in U.S. Open Cup play.
Despite playing the underdog when facing an MLS club, Carolina has won both of its prior matches against the Galaxy, and the RailHawks are 5-4 all-time against teams from the MLS in the U.S. Open Cup (5-2 when hosting).
Carolina is unbeaten in its last 22 home contests and has never trailed at home this season.
Chivas USA, which played eight of its usual starters, had plenty of chances to put away the pesky RailHawks, putting 12 shots on target. But it was RailHawks backup goalkeeper Scott Goodwin who saved the day, allowing just one goal before blocking three penalty kicks.
With RailHawks starting goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald out with a thumb injury for the next four to six weeks, Carolina head coach Colin Clarke will rely on Goodwin against the Galaxy.
“He’s a great keeper, and he comes in and he works hard every day. The two of them push each other. All of his hard work has paid off,” Clarke said.
Los Angeles, the four-time MLS Champion, enters its matchup with the RailHawks coming off a 2-1 win over Arizona United SC of the third-division USL PRO in the fourth round. The past two years, the Galaxy has not brought many starters to play Carolina, but coach Bruce Arena told MLSsoccer.com it would be different in this year’s tournament.
Last year, Los Angeles didn’t even bring Arena, letting an assistant man the sidelines.