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Sounders 2 vs. Timbers 2: USOC Third Round Match Adds New Layer to Cascadia Rivalry

The rivalry between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders is one of the most intense and historic in American soccer; starting in the days of the ill-fated North American Soccer League, returning to life in the A-League and USL, and carrying on today in Major League Soccer. On Wednesday evening, a new chapter in that rivalry will play out as the two clubs’ new USL sides, Portland Timbers 2 and Seattle Sounders 2, face off in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time.

Seattle Sounders 2 host Portland Timbers 2 at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, WA on Wednesday, May 27th at 4:00 p.m. ET.

In the hearts of Timbers and Sounders fans, the Cup holds a special place. Since the teams’ USL era, the Timbers and Sounders have met in the U.S.’s oldest competition five times. Although the Timbers struck first, winning the 2005 meeting between the two teams, the Sounders would go on to win the next four in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2014.  The Sounders would go on to win the U.S. Open Cup in 2009, 2010, and 2014, as well as once more in 2011 when they did not face the Timbers.

The Timbers' and Sounders’ first teams will face off in the fourth round of the Open Cup in June, adding yet another layer to the clashes between the two clubs at every level. The Seattle Sounders will host the Portland Timbers at Starfire on Tuesday, June 16th at 10:30 p.m. ET.

The intensity of the matches between the two sides has always been evident in the play on the pitch. Few know the feeling of those early cup matches better than Andrew Gregor, one of the few players to have suited up for both clubs and one of even fewer to have played an Open Cup match for both.

“In a cup format, it is a win or go home sort of scenario,” says Gregor. "Usually you don’t have those sort of scenarios until playoffs. And so, earlier in the season, in the middle of the season, you are in this win or go home scenario in the cup, which brings an extra intensity; not to mention the standard rivalry that you have between Sounders and Timbers, so it makes for a very, very exciting game."

USOC 2004 Portland Timbers Cameron Knowles
Gregor, seen here playing for the then Division II Timbers, completed multiple stints with the Timbers in 2004 and 2007-08 as well as the Seattle Sounders in 1999-2000, 2001-02, and 2005-06.

With neither team willing to give an inch in their Cascadia derby matches, it should perhaps come as no surprise that in the five U.S. Open Cup matches between the Timbers and Sounders there have been red cards in four of them.

For Gregor, the possibility of a red card being shown is part and parcel of Open Cup matches. "I think tensions are going to fly either way, but there is that sort of thought of ‘you are not going to be a part of this competition any more if you don’t win.’"

Current Timbers first team assistant coach Cameron Knowles was red carded in the 2007 match between the two sides. Timbers’ starting midfielder Diego Chara was the most recent player to see red, getting sent off in the 2014 edition of the match up. 

Now an assistant coach with Timbers 2, Gregor is helping head coach Jay Vidovich prepare his side for Wednesday’s match. It will not be the first time that T2 and S2 have faced off; the two sides have already met twice in their maiden USL campaigns with S2 winning a narrow 2-1 victory at home in April, then coming to Portland this past Saturday and beating T2 2-0 on the road.

Saturday’s game in particular was a contentious one, with a trio of early yellow cards to T2 failing to keep the hotly contested match under control. As tempers flared after the match, T2 defender Harrison Delbridge was shown a red card of his own for dissent, paving the way for an intense Open Cup reunion.

USOC Timbers 2 assistant coach Andrew Gregor

After calling time on his professional playing career in 2009, Andrew Gregor rejoined the Portland Timbers as an assistant coach with the clubs USL Timbers 2 affiliate.

Looking forward to Wednesday, Gregor talked about T2’s approach to the upcoming match. “You are in a knockout competition; you do whatever you can to win that game. What matters is that we win that game and move on. That is kind of the unique aspect of the knockout competition side of it."

For both T2 and S2, the squads on hand are full of players with potential, being developed as possible future players for their respective first teams. Performances trump points for T2 in league play, according to Gregor, but not in a knockout match like this one.

Finding the balance between points and performance is less of a concern in the Open Cup. "In the knockout competition anything goes. You just want to win and move on,” Gregor says.

To anyone watching the matches between T2 and S2, it is clear that the rivalry between the two franchises is already extending down to the USL sides and both teams will certainly want to move on.

Chula Vista FC Aiming to Continue Upstart Beginning to 2015 USOC

As 2015 U.S. Open Cup Cinderella side Harpo’s FC was in Colorado Springs trying to extend an unthinkable run to the Third Round last Wednesday night, USASA side Chula Vista FC looked ready to take the glass slipper.

As the final whistle blew on Harpo’s 2-1 defeat at the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, Chula Vista FC was in the midst of a 3-0 shellacking of USL side Arizona United SC. The Second Round win came on the heels of a 2-1 extra time victory over PDL side FC Tucson in First Round play a week before, and anointed the tournament debutantes as the new amateur darlings heading into round three on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t say we’re surprised with our success,” said Chula Vista FC head coach Hector Diaz. “It’s a little overwhelming that it happened in our first U.S. Open Cup trip but a lot of these guys have had pressure before and been successful under that pressure. I think we rise to the challenge -- there aren’t any egos, they’re trying to take advantage of the opportunity they’ve been afforded and I like that. Hopefully we continue with the same attitude.”

Perhaps what’s most amazing about the team’s run is that the side is made up entirely of players 23 years old and under. Half the team that started the match against the pros at Arizona United were under the age of 21. Even Diaz, a former airman in the Air National Guard, is one of the youngest coaches in the tournament at just 28.

Chula Vista FC
Chula Vista FC celebrates earning a berth in the Third Round of the 2015 U.S. Open Cup after defeating Arizona United on May 20.

The holder of a USSF “B” Coaching License, Diaz began his managerial career at the age of 15, working with his father, Hector, Sr. as coach of his brother Alberto’s youth squad. Keeping the core of the team together over the past 13 years, Hector has taken over the reins, culminating in their first Open Cup qualification earlier this year.

Alberto, a slight but technical former U.S. youth international and 2010 Cal South Player of the Year, shined in the team’s Second Round match against Arizona United, scoring the first and third goals and setting up teammate Angel Pinal for the second in the 3-0 rout.

“I had a big smile when he scored the first goal,” said Alberto’s big brother Hector. “I watched and saw Francisco Ramirez, who started on this team with ‘Berto when they were both six or seven years old, set him up for the goal. They’ve always been the top two players in whatever league they’ve played in and now they’re big things against a pro team in the U.S. Open Cup – it’s incredible.”

The win sets the club up for its biggest match yet, a visit north to reigning USL champions Sacramento Republic who beat Sonoma County Sol 4-2 in Second Round play last week, a team Diaz says he’s followed closely since they began last year.

“It’s hard not to notice the buzz they’ve generated,” he said. “We have a great group of guys and the same night we beat Arizona, our captain Luis Alvarado watched their game against Sonoma Sol and took notes, three hours after our game, our captain had already analyzed our opponent. He said, ‘I did half the job for you, I’m going to give you these notes. They’re real good, real dangerous on the attack. I think we can counterattack them this way, go at them that way.”

“They’re very good offensively,” Diaz continued. “The good thing is our defense I think has been the strongest. Both first halves against Tucson and Arizona were unbelievably difficult. They both pressed us and our defense was able to hold in both cases. In the second half of both games we were more offensive and released a little pressure.”

Chula Vista FC
Chula Vista FC's next challenge comes in the Open Cup Third Round against reigning USL champs Sacramento Republic FC.

With just five amateur teams left in the tournament, Chula Vista FC know that if they can get past Sacramento on Wednesday, they’ll have a good chance at the tournament’s $15,000 prize for the Amateur Division team that advances the furthest.

And while Diaz admits he didn’t think his team would get this far in its first appearance, he’s also sure to point out that, despite two wins, they haven’t reached their goal in the tournament just yet.

“I keep telling the guys that we have nothing to lose and everything to win. They’re responding and starting to believe a little more and as we go the confidence is growing. We always saw the goal as being able to go up against an MLS team. I thought it would take a couple more tries to have a chance at that we’re not at our goal yet, but were hoping to get there on Wednesday.”

The winner of the match will advance to a Fourth Round date away to the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on June 16.

Building a Soccer Culture in the South's Scenic City

“Soccer hotbed” may not be the first thought that comes to your mind when someone says Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Yet NPSL side Chattanooga FC is helping the city known for a song about a train, the world’s longest pedestrian bridge, and birthplace of the “moonpie” become a substantial soccer hub in the southeastern United States.

Having begun play in 2009, the club has been one of the most consistent sides in the NPSL, going to the league’s championship match in 2010, 2012 and 2014 while appearing in its fourth U.S. Open Cup this year. Playing its home games at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium, CFC’s success on the field has also spurred interest in the stands. The club averaged 3,600 fans per game last season and also holds the NPSL’s attendance record, drawing 8,878 for a playoff match with Sacramento Gold in 2014.

When my partners and I started this thing seven years ago, the intention was to make Chattanooga a focal point for all things soccer,” said General Manager Sean McDaniel. “The word ‘grassroots’ is spot on and we did it in steps. First it was to get our local community behind us -- that included having a great relationship with our stadium and youth organizations. It built into a regional following -- within our NPSL conference, in the past seven years, we’ve certainly had success on the field and we’ve worked hard not to just promote soccer in the city, but the city itself. We wanted to make Chattanooga a destination point for people all over the country. Soccer was the catalyst and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.”

In turn, the atmosphere that the club’s supporters, aptly named “The Chattahooligans,” provide at Finley Stadium helps give Chattanooga FC a leg up on attracting top collegiate talent to fill out its roster each year.

Goalkeeper Gregory Hartley made two penalty saves before converting the winning kick in the team’s First Round shootout victory over Ocala Stampede.
Photo Credit: Madonna Kemp

“We’ve been able to show these guys what type of city, environment and fan base they’ll be playing in front of,” McDaniel continued. “For all of them, they’re playing at some type of collegiate level or have just ended their collegiate career and have never played for a fan base or a following like this one in their life. When they get here and experience the tremendous support we have, it does get easier to recruit the type of talent we get.

“Honestly, we still have to fight amongst other teams -- there are some tremendous organizations across the country that are fighting for the same top quality guys.  We try to put our best face in front of them as we can – that’s the crowd support and the environment in the city. It’s becoming easier and easier to sell every year.”

Some of the players that Chattanooga has attracted include goalkeeper Gregory Hartley, who made two penalty saves before converting the winning kick in the team’s First Round shootout victory over Ocala Stampede. Forward Chris Ocheing set up Luke Winter’s late equalizer to send that match to extra time, and last Wednesday Ochieng did it again with a late tying goal against the Wilmington Hammerheads to send the match to extra time and the eventual shootout win.

Though it goes down in the books as a draw, the penalty kick victory marked the second year in a row Chattanooga dispatched the professional USL side in the Second Round of the Open Cup. The win sets up a match against another familiar opponent as the NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks will return to Finley Stadium for Wednesday’s third-round encounter.

Though not traditionally known for its Open Cup exploits, the Second Division side from Atlanta made easy work of Chattanooga in that match, casting them out of the 2014 tournament with a 5-0 drubbing.

While the Fourth Division outfit remains realistic about their chances against a fully professional Silverbacks side, McDaniel says the team is better prepared for the match than they were last year and hopes that the expected 4,000-plus supporters in Finley Stadium will help the effort.

“The difference between last year and this year is it was the first real run for everybody and first time we’ve gone that deep,” he said. “This year, it’s a businesslike mentality from the players and the coaching staff. It’s very exciting, very honoring, but very practical to us as well as far as what job needs to be done. The biggest change is that last year we were just happy to be there. This year, we just feel this sense that we deserve to be here and let’s play like we deserve to be here. I expect the Silverbacks will be very strong like last year but mentally and emotionally this will be more business.”

Last Wednesday, forward Chris Ocheing had a late tying goal against the Wilmington Hammerheads to send the match to extra time and the eventual shootout win.
Photo Credit: Tracey Pattarozzi Stiegler

The winner of the match would advance to a Fourth Round date away to the New York Red Bulls on June 16. If it’s Chattanooga that is victorious, it would set up a historic week for soccer in the city as the club will also host the Hank Steinbrecher Cup on Friday and Saturday at Finley Stadium.

Despite finishing as NPSL runners-up in 2014, Chattanooga FC gained entry to the tournament, which is named for the U.S. Soccer Federation’s former Secretary General, after the champion New York Red Bulls U-23 side moved to the PDL this season. The tournament brings the reigning PDL champion Michigan Bucks, USASA Open champion Maryland Bays and Amateur champion New York Greek American SC together to determine the nation’s Amateur National Champion.

With success in the U.S. Open Cup and events like the Steinbrecher Cup helping Chattanooga continue to make waves in the national soccer conversation, the thought of higher aspirations for the club is something that is under careful evaluation according to McDaniel.

“I think we’d be short sighted if we were content with where we are right now. We’re very happy with the NPSL and the support we get within our community. We also know we want to continue growing the sport and whether that’s jumping up a level or just being hosts to great hosts to big events like the Steinbrecher Cup here in Chattanooga, it’s ‘on the white board’ as they say. Right now we get through the season with what we’re doing and at the end of the year we sit down as a board if we want to go to the next step. We’re always looking to grow and make this thing better.”

15 Games Highlight Open Cup Third Round as NASL Teams Begin Play

Since the NASL began participating in the competition in 2012, the league as a whole has gone 3-2-0 against USL sides, 4-2-2 against PDL, 5-0-0 vs. the NPSL and 2-0-0 against the USASA.

Fifteen matches in 13 different states will kick off with a Wednesday matinee as Portland Timbers FC 2 visit Seattle Sounders FC 2 at 1 p.m. PT in Tukwila, Wash.

Check out notes on each match below, stay tuned to Wednesday for live links to matches and follow all the Third Round action via the competition’s official Twitter account @OpenCup.

Game #1: Seattle Sounders FC 2 (USL) vs. Portland Timbers FC 2 (USL)
1 p.m. PT; Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Seattle Sounders FC 2 Overall Record: 1-0-0
Portland Timbers FC 2 Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Portland Timbers FC 2 Overall Record:

  • Two first half goals from Victor Mansaray and Pablo Rossi seemed to see Seattle cruising in their Second Round match with Kitsap Pumas, but Trevor Jensen’s 65th minute marker and Mike Ramos’ stoppage time equalizer sent the match to extra time. Three minutes into the extra frame, Rossi’s free kick restored Seattle’s lead and Andy Craven put the game on ice just before time, giving Sounders 2 a 4-2 extra time win in their first-ever U.S. Open Cup match.
  • Though scoreless through the first 45 with the Michigan Bucks, things were less dramatic in Timbers 2’s Open Cup debut as Seth Casiple set up Kharlton Belmar in the 52nd minute before dishing to Safiu Fatawu in second half stoppage time to ease Portland to a 2-0 victory.
  • The match will mark the third meeting between Sounders 2 and Timbers 2 this season and will be the second consecutive match between the two sides after Seattle downed Portland 2-0 on Friday, May 22 at Merlo Field. Seattle also defeated Portland 2-1 on April 11 at Starfire Stadium.
  • Seattle remains top of the USL’s Western Conference with a 6-3-1 record (19 points) while Portland are ninth with a 3-4-2 record (11 points).
  • The game should stoke some flames ahead of the two rival clubs’ first teams facing off in the tournament’s Fourth Round at the same stadium on June 16.
  • The winner will visit Real Salt Lake in Fourth Round play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on June 17.

Game #2: Harrisburg City Islanders (USL) vs. Rochester Rhinos (USL)
7 p.m. ET; Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg, Pa.
Harrisburg City Islanders Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 7 (2007, 2009, 2010, 2012; Quarterfinals)
Harrisburg City Islanders Overall Record: 15-7-3
Rochester Rhinos Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 19 (1999; Champions)
Rochester Rhinos Overall Record: 33-15-5

  • Harrisburg City Islanders advanced to the Third Round using goals from Danny DiPrima, Cordel Benbowo and Ken Tribbett to earn a 3-0 win at PDL side Reading United.
  • Kenardo Forbes’s 39th minute strike was all Rochester needed to defeat NPSL side Greater Binghamtom FC Thunder 1-0 in Second Round play on May 20.
  • Wednesday’s match will mark the first game between the two USL sides this season as well as their first-ever meeting in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
  • Harrisburg’s Neil Shaffer will serve a one-match suspension after being shown a red card in the side’s 3-0 win over Reading on May 20.
  • Following a 0-0 draw with Toronto FC II on May 23, Rochester enter the match with an unbeaten 6-0-4 record  (18 points) in league play and sit first overall in the USL’s Eastern Conference.
  • Harrisburg sat idle this past weekend in USL play and are currently fifth in the USL’S Eastern Conference with a 4-2-1 (19 points).
  • With a win against Harrisburg, Rochester can equal Chicago Fire’s mark for most overall tournament wins in the “Pro Era” with 34.
  • The winner will visit the Philadelphia Union in Fourth Round play at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. on June 16.

Game #3: Richmond Kickers (USL) vs. Jacksonville Armada (NASL)
7 p.m. ET; Richmond City Stadium in Richmond, Va.
Richmond Kickers Previous Appearances/Best Finish:16 (1995; Champions)
Richmond Kickers Overall Record: 27-14-2
Jacksonville Armada Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First Appearance

  • Richmond Kickers got second half goals from Nathan Shiffman (47th) and Jason Yeisley (89th) to earn a 2-0 victory over Virginia Beach City in Second Round play on May 20 at City Stadium.
  • Expansion NASL side Jacksonville Armada will make their U.S. Open Cup debut against Richmond Kickers and are coached by former Boca Juniors midfielder and Argentina international Jose Luis Villareal.
  • Richmond last fell 2-1 at home to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, May 23 and are currently in third place in the USL’s Eastern Conference with a 4-2-4 record (16 points).
  • Jacksonville comes into the match off a 3-2 away loss to Minnesota United FC on Saturday, May 23 and sit fourth in the NASL’s Spring Season standings with a 3-3-1 record (12 points).
  • The match will mark the first time Richmond has met an NASL club in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
  • The winner of the match will host Columbus Crew SC on June 17.

Game #4: Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL) vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)
7 p.m. ET; Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 12 (2014; Quarterfinals)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds Overall Record: 8-10-3
Tampa Bay Rowdies Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 4 (2013; Fourth Round)
Tampa Bay Rowdies Overall Record: 4-4-0

  • Early goals from Rob Vincent (9th minute) and Lebo Molobo (10th minute) and a late strike from Kevin Kerr (87th minute) eased Pittsburgh to a 3-0 Second Round win over the West Virginia Chaos on May 20.
  • The Rowdies return to the tournament looking to avenge their 4-1 Third Round upending by USL’s Orlando City in 2014.
  • Pittsburgh enters the match coming off a 2-1 away win over the Richmond Kickers on Saturday, May 23. The victory moved the Riverhounds above the USL Eastern Conference’s red playoff line and into sixth with a 3-3-3 record (12 points).
  • Sitting idle this past weekend, Tampa Bay comes into the match riding a three-game unbeaten streak in NASL play (1-0-2) and sit third in the league’s Spring table with a 3-1-3 record (12 points).
  • Tampa Bay is 1-1-0 all-time vs. USL opponents in the Open Cup while the match will mark Pittsburgh’s first-ever game against an NASL side in the tournament.
  • The match winner will host three-time U.S. Open Cup champions D.C. United on June 17.

Game #5: Chattanooga FC (NPSL) vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)
7:30 p.m. ET; Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Chattanooga FC Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 2 (2013; Second Round)
Chattanooga FC Overall Record: 1-2-2
Atlanta Silverbacks Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 11 (2014; Quarterfinals)
Atlanta Silverbacks Overall Record: 10-10-2

  • One of five amateur teams left in the tournament, Chattanooga FC advanced to the Third Round with a 5-3 shootout victory over USL’s Wilmington Hammerheads following a 1-1 draw. The penalty win was the team’s second straight after dispatching Ocala Stampede via shootout in the First Round.
  • The game falls almost a year to the day of last year’s Third Round encounter where Atlanta trounced Chattanooga 5-0 at Finley Stadium.
  • Chattanooga enter the match with a perfect 3-0-0 record in NPSL play, last defeating the New Orleans Jesters 3-1 on Saturday.
  • Atlanta returns to the competition following their best-ever finish in 2014, a quarterfinal run which saw them eventually fall 3-1 to the Chicago Fire.
  • Atlanta come into the game off a 4-2 away loss at FC Edmonton on Sunday, May 24. The Silverbacks sit seventh in the NASL’s Spring table with a 1-2-5 record.
  • The winner will visit New York Red Bulls in a Fourth Round encounter at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on June 16.

Game #6: Carolina RailHawks (NASL) vs. Charlotte Independence (USL)
7:30 p.m. ET; WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
Carolina RailHawks Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 7 (2007; Semifinals)
Carolina RailHawks Overall Record: 16-7-1
Charlotte Independence Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Charlotte Independence Overall Record: 1-0-0

  • Charlotte won their debut U.S. Open Cup match, using a hat trick from Tomasz Zahorski and another strike from Enzo Martinez to defeat Upward Stars 4-1 on May 20.
  • Carolina returns to the competition after dispatching Chivas USA on penalty kicks and the LA Galaxy in extra time before falling 5-2 to FC Dallas in the 2014 Quarterfinals.
  • The Independence come off a 1-1 league draw away to the Charleston Battery while Carolina earned a 1-0 away win at Fort Lauderdale. Both matches were played on Saturday, May 23.
  • The RailHawks hold a 5-1-1 all-time record against Division III (USL) sides in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup since the club began participating in 2007.
  • Carolina sits fifth overall in the NASL Spring table with a 2-2-4 record (10 points), while Charlotte is eighth in the USL’s Easter Conference with a 2-3-3 record (9 points).
  • The winner will visit New England Revolution on June 17 at Harvard University’s Soldiers Field in Boston, Mass.

Game #7: Charleston Battery (USL) vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL)
7:30 p.m. ET; Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C.
Charleston Battery Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 15 (2008; Finalists)
Charleston Battery Overall Record: 26-13-5
Fort Lauderdale Strikers Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 8 (2008; 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014; Third Round)
Fort Lauderdale Strikers Overall Record: 6-6-2

  • Charleston set up their Third Round home date against Fort Lauderdale thanks to Heviel Cordoves’ 40th minute strike in a 1-0 win over NPSL side Miami United on May 20.
  • The club will be without Cordoves against Fort Lauderdale after the Cuban forward was shown a red card in the 83rd minute of the match.
  • Fort Lauderdale returns to the Open Cup in 2015, after being upset in their first match of 2014, falling 3-2 to the PDL’s Laredo Heat in Third Round play.
  • The two sides have met once before in Open Cup play, with the Charleston Battery downing, then Miami FC 1-0 in Second Round play on June 16, 2009.
  • Charleston enters the match following a 1-1 away draw with the Charlotte Independence on Saturday May 23. With the result, the Battery sit second in the USL’s Easter Conference with a 5-1-4 record (19 points).
  • Fort Lauderdale comes into Wednesday’s encounter following a 1-0 home defeat to the Carolina RailHawks. The Strikers are 9th in the NASL Spring table with a 2-4-1 record (7 points).
  • With 26 all-time Open Cup wins, Charleston are tied for fifth most wins among 2015 Open Cup participants behind only Chicago Fire (34), Rochester Rhinos (33), D.C. United (31) and Richmond Kickers (27).
  • Dating back to their first Open Cup participation in 1999, Charleston is 5-0-1 all-time against Division II (now NASL) sides in the tournament, while this match marks the first time Fort Lauderdale will face a Division III (now USL) opponent in the tournament.
  • If the Battery win, they will host Major League Soccer’s Orlando City on June 17 at Charleston’s Blackbaud Stadium. If Fort Lauderdale wins, they’ll visit City on the same date at The Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Game #8: Indy Eleven (NASL) vs. Louisville City FC (USL)
7:30 p.m. ET; Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Indy Eleven Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 1 (2014; Fourth Round)
Indy Eleven Overall Record: 1-1-0
Louisville City FC Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Louisville City FC Overall Record: 1-0-0

  • Indy Eleven return to the U.S. Open Cup after defeating the Dayton Dutch Lions 5-2 (Third Round) before falling 2-1 in extra time to the Columbus Crew (Fourth Round) in 2014.
  • Louisville City FC comes off their U.S. Open Cup debut, using an own goal to defeat NPSL side Lansing United 1-0 in Second Round play on May 20.
  • Indy Eleven comes in the match after giving up a late goal in a 1-0 away loss to the Ottawa Fury on May 23. The team sits 11th in the NASL Spring table with a 1-3-3 overall record.
  • Louisville used a brace from Matt Fondy to earn a 3-3 away draw with Saint Louis FC in USL play on May 24. The point keeps the side in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 4-1-4 record.
  • The winner of the match will move on to a Fourth Round date with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. on June 16.

Game #9: New York Cosmos (NASL) vs. Jersey Express (PDL)
7:30 p.m. ET; Belson Stadium in Queens, N.Y.
New York Cosmos Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 1 (2014; Fourth Round)
New York Cosmos Overall Record: 2-1-0
Jersey Express Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 1 (2014; First Round)
Jersey Express Overall Record: 2-1-0

  • The New York Cosmos return to the U.S. Open Cup following a 2014 run that saw them defeat the Brooklyn Italians 2-0 (Third Round) and upset the New York Red Bulls 3-0 (Fourth Round) before falling to eventual finalists Philadelphia Union 2-1 in extra time in Fifth Round play.
  • One of five amateur teams left in the tournament, Jersey Express advanced to their date with the Cosmos following a 3-1 First Round win over New York Greek American SC and 1-0 Second Round defeat of New York Red Bulls II.
  • Originally scheduled for NJIT Stadium in Newark, N.J., the match was moved to Belson Stadium because of construction at the initial venue.
  • The last unbeaten side in the NASL, the Cosmos sit atop the Spring table with a 5-0-3 record after last defeating the San Antonio Scorpions 3-0 on May 23.
  • Jersey Express are 0-1-0 in PDL play after sitting idle this past weekend.
  • Though he never won the Copa del Rey in his years with Real Madrid, Cosmos striker Raul twice won the competition’s Golden Boot in 2001-02 and 2003-04 and did win the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) with Schalke in 2010-11, scoring the lone goal in the side’s 1-0 semifinal victory away to Bayern Munich.
  • Should the Cosmos defeat Jersey Express, they’ll host New York City FC in Fourth Round play on June 16. Should the Express be victorious, they’ll visit New York City FC on the same day.

Game #10: Saint Louis FC (USL) vs. Minnesota United FC (NASL)
7 p.m. CT; Worldwide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo.
Saint Louis FC Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Saint Louis FC Overall Record: 1-0-0
Minnesota United FC Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 4 (2012, 2014; Fourth Round)
Minnesota United FC Overall Record: 4-3-0

  • Saint Louis FC used goals from Bryan Gaul and Jeremie Lynch to earn a 2-1 extra time win over Des Moines Menace in the club’s Open Cup debut on May 20.
  • Minnesota United FC returns for their fifth tournament appearance after dispatching Des Moines 1-0 in Third Round play before falling to Sporting KC 2-0 in the Fourth Round in 2014.
  • Minnesota United come into the match following a 3-2 home win over Jacksonville Armada on Saturday. The win pushed United into second place in the NASL Spring table where they have a 3-1-3 record (12 points).
  • Saint Louis FC most recently come off a wild 3-3 draw with Louisville City FC on May 24. The result has Saint Louis sitting eighth, one point out of a USL Eastern Conference playoff spot, with a 3-3-2 record (11 points).
  • The winner of the match will pay a Fourth Round visit to Sporting KC on June 16 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Game #11: Tulsa Roughnecks (USL) vs. Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL)
7:05 p.m. CT; ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Okla.
Tulsa Roughnecks Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Tulsa Roughnecks Overall Record: 1-0-0
Oklahoma City Energy FC Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 1 (2014; Third Round)
Oklahoma City Energy FC Overall Record: 2-1-0

  • Tulsa used Chad Bond’s 58th minute goal to defeat Seacoast United 1-0 in Second Round play on May 20.
  • Oklahoma City Energy advanced to the Third Round thanks to a brace from Kyle Greig and another goal from Casey Townsend in a 3-1 away defeat of Midland/Odessa Sockers on May 20.
  • Tulsa comes off of a 1-0 away win over the Austin Aztex on May 24 while Energy FC earned a 2-1 away victory over Sacramento Republic FC on May 23.
  • Both sides sit just below the red playoff line in the USL’s Western Conference with Energy FC seventh (3-2-3; 12 points) and the Roughnecks in 10th (3-4-2; 11 points).
  • The winner of the match will move on to face FC Dallas in Fourth Round play at TCU Soccer Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas on June 16.

Game #12: San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) vs. Austin Aztex (USL)
7:30 p.m. CT; Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio Scorpions Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 3 (2012, 2014; Fourth Round)
San Antonio Scorpions Overall Record: 3-2-1
Austin Aztex Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 1 (2013, 2014; Second Round)
Austin Aztex Overall Record: 2-1-1

  • Austin used goals from Julio Cuero and Brian Fekete to earn a 2-0 victory over the Laredo Heat in Second Round play on May 20.
  • San Antonio makes their fourth U.S. Open Cup appearance following their 2014 run where they defeated USASA side NTX Rayados 4-2 before falling 2-0 to FC Dallas in the Fourth Round.
  • Most recently, Austin fell 1-0 to the Tulsa Roughnecks in USL play on May 24. The result leaves the Aztex in sixth place in the USL’s Western Conference with a 4-5-1 record (13 points).
  • San Antonio comes into the match following a 3-0 away defeat to the New York Cosmos on May 23. The Scorpions sit 10th in the NASL Spring table with a 2-4-1 record (7 points).
  • The winner of the match will move on to a Fourth Round date with the Houston Dynamo on a date to be determined.

Game #13: Real Monarchs SLC (USL) vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL)
7 p.m. MT; Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah
Real Monarchs SLC Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Real Monarchs SLC Overall Record: 1-0-0
Colorado Springs Switchbacks Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Colorado Springs Switchbacks Overall Record: 1-0-0

  • Both sides made their U.S. Open Cup debuts on May 20.
  • Real Monarchs SLC used Ricardo Velazco’s 76th minute strike to take a 1-0 away victory at the Long Island Rough Riders.
  • Marty Maybin’s first half brace was enough for Colorado Springs to hold on for a 2-1 home win over USSSA side Harpo’s FC.
  • Colorado Springs will be without the services of Rony Argueta who was shown a red card in the team’s 2-1 win over Harpo’s FC on May 20.
  • Real Monarchs enter the match following a 2-1 away defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps 2 on May 24, leaving them 12th in the USL’s Western Conference with a 1-6-3 record (6 points)
  • Colorado Springs earned the biggest win of their short history, downing Arizona United SC 5-0 on May 23. The win moved the Switchbacks to eighth in the USL’s Western Conference with a 4-4-0 record (12 points).
  • The winner of the match will advance to a Fourth Round match away to the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. on June 16.

Game #14: Ventura County Fusion (PDL) vs. PSA Elite (USASA)
7 p.m. PT; Ventura College Sportsplex in Ventura, Calif.
Ventura County Fusion Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 5 (2012; Third Round)
Ventura County Fusion Overall Record: 6-4-2
PSA Elite Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 2 (2014; Fourth Round)
PSA Elite Overall Record: 4-3-2

  • Of 15 Third Round games to be played on Wednesday, the only one that pits two amateur teams against each other.
  • Ventura County Fusion used Matt La Grassa’s first half strike and Abu Danladi’s 91st minute winner to down LA Galaxy II 2-1 in Second Round play on May 20. The win helped the Fusion equal their best Open Cup placement, which came in 2012.
  • Prior to that victory, the Fusion played to a 3-3 draw with Cal FC before dispatching the side on penalty kicks in First Round play on May 13.
  • PSA Elite advanced to the Third Round following a 7-1 thrashing of Golden State Misioneros (First Round) before goals from Michael Salazar and Mats Bjurman helped the side to a 2-1 Second Round upset of OC Blues on May 20.
  • PSA Elite will be without the services of Jamel Wallace who was shown a red card in the team’s victory over OC Blues on May 20.
  • Ventura County Fusion enter the match coming off a 1-0 victory over OC Blues U-23, moving the side to 2-2-0 in PDL play.
  • The winner of the match will advance to a Fourth Round game at the LA Galaxy on June 17 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

Game #15: Sacramento Republic FC (USL) vs. Chula Vista FC (USASA)
7:30 p.m. PT; Bonney Field in Sacramento, Calif.
Sacramento Republic FC Previous Appearances/Best Finish: 1 (2014; Fourth Round)
Sacramento Republic FC Overall Record: 3-1-0
Chula Vista FC Previous Appearances/Best Finish: First appearance
Chula Vista FC Overall Record: 2-0-0

  • First-time U.S. Open Cup participant Chula Vista FC have become the new “darlings” of the tournament, following their First Round extra time 2-1 defeat of FC Tucson and 3-0 Second Round win away to USL side Arizona United SC.
  • Sacramento Republic FC returned to the tournament on May 20, using a hat trick from Thomas Stewart and extra goal from Gabe Gonzalez to see off NPSL side Sonoma County Sol 4-2 at Bonney Field.
  • USL (Division III) sides hold an all-time 45-9-3 record over teams representing the USASA in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
  • USASA teams are 2-0-0 against USL teams in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, including Chula Vista’s 3-0 win over Arizona United SC.
  • Sacramento Republic enter Wednesday’s Third Round encounter following a 2-1 away defeat to the Oklahoma City Energy on May 23. Despite the loss, Sacramento sit second in the USL’s Western Conference with a 6-5-0 record (18 points).
  • The winner of the match will pay a Fourth Round visit to take on the San Jose Earthquakes on June 16 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif.

FIFA U-20 World Cup a Chance for Redemption

For several members of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup represents another chance. Many have been part of the U.S. Soccer national team programs for various cycles, but only three have ever been part of a youth World Cup, and only two have played in one. Nine others came close and are now getting their opportunity on the world stage.

Jeff Caldwell, Joel Sonora, Conor Donovan, Rubio Rubin, John Requejo and Shaq Moore were all on the 2013 team that was upset by Honduras at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship and missed out of that U-17 World Cup. Bradford Jamieson IV was left off that roster altogether after spending four semesters in Residency.

“Obviously that was a tough moment, not only for me but the rest of the team who experienced that,” said Moore, who was captain of the 2013 U-17 World Cup qualifying team. “I think having another chance – not even here at the World Cup, but at Qualifying in January with this group - was a big hurdle that I crossed to finally qualify for a World Cup.”

It wasn’t easy qualifying this time around, either. After tying the first and losing the second match, the U-20s won the final four matches in Jamaica – all by shutout – in order to qualify for New Zealand. One player who had to sit out was Sonora, who was injured weeks before. Thankful that the group qualified, he’s now looking forward for his chance at redemption.

“It was a big disappointment at the time because we were all expecting to qualify,” said Sonora of the 2013 team. “We didn’t see it as too difficult, and maybe we let our guard down. It was a very hard hit to take because it was the first time a U-17 team didn’t qualify for a World Cup. We were crushed. So we’re excited that we’ve now given ourselves another chance to show what we can do and what this group of players and this team is about in New Zealand.”

Two years earlier, Kellyn Acosta and Paul Arriola were the youngest members of the 2011 U-17 FIFA World Cup team in Mexico that bowed out in the Round of 16 with a loss to Germany. Acosta played in all four matches and Arriola in three. During that cycle, Marky Delgado did not make the qualifying roster, and while Jordan Allen was on the team that qualified, he was left off the final World Cup squad.

“There was disappointment, but at the time I hadn’t been playing well, so it was kind of expected,” Allen said. “I made sure once that happened, that the next time I had a chance to make a World Cup team I would have been doing everything I could to be in good form and put myself in the right position. So I’m happy that I’ve been able to do that this time.”

Allen and Delgado were also returning from injuries in January and not fit to go to Jamaica. But Allen seemed to be a longer shot. He suffered a knee injury last year that kept him out the picture for months. The Real Salt Lake forward made his first appearance with the U-20s in a camp in Austria in April, and got the call that he made the World Cup team a few weeks later.

“This means a lot,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of work in - being out of close to 10 months with my knee injury. As soon as I got healthy I circled when the World Cup was going to be and I made sure that by that time I was getting close to my best form. I put a lot of work in, and luckily it worked out.”

Arriola doesn’t take the opportunity to play in a second youth World Cup for granted.

“I know it’s unique, and I know I’m very blessed to be able to do this again,” he said. “Obviously when I started the cycle, this was my goal – to have us qualify for the World Cup and to make the team. But you never know what can happen, so I’m thankful to be here and looking to do whatever I can to help us win.”

Zack Steffen is the other player on this roster to have been on a World Cup team. The Freiburg goalkeeper, along with Acosta, returns from the 2013 U-20 World Cup team, although neither played in the tournament.

It’s obviously not easy making it to a World Cup, and it’s with that in mind that this group relishes the experience in New Zealand.

“We’ve had a very sour taste in our mouth,” Moore said. “We’ve just wanted to work hard and give ourselves another shot. We wanted to get rid of that taste and we’re not taking anything for granted. We’re excited to be here now, but we also want to make the most of this opportunity.”

Swim on Through to the Other Side

“You want to hear a story about Kelley O’Hara? Here’s one that tells you everything you need to know,” says Paul Ratcliffe, coach of Stanford University’s women’s soccer team.

Before O’Hara’s senior year at Stanford, the women’s soccer team traveled to the University of Hawaii for preseason matches. On their off morning, they went sightseeing at Kailua Beach Park. Ratcliffe left the team on one side of the beach and took a walk with his family to the other.

Kailua Beach Park. Photo by Jessica Lieuson.

“When I get back, all the girls are sitting down, kind of laughing and looking uneasy. I was like, ‘Uh, what’s up?’ That’s when they pointed out two tiny flecks swimming out in the water, en route to an island that is far away –I’m talking like far, far out,” says Ratcliffe. “And I’m responsible for these girls, and I’m panicked. When I told the Hawaii coach about it, he says, ‘Yeah, people die doing that.’”

O’Hara and teammate Ali Riley (who plays for the New Zealand national team) had been sitting in the sand, idly wondering whether it was possible to swim out to that island in the distance. The daydreaming prompted reactions from their teammates: “Not possible,” “No way,” “You guys are out of you mind if you think you could swim all the way there!”

U.S. Soccer to Host Four-Team U-20 Women’s Tournament at the NTC in Carson

CHICAGO (May 25, 2015) – U.S. Soccer will stage a four-team Under-20 women’s international tournament from June 2-6 as the USA will host Brazil, Japan and Mexico in the 2015 U-20 Women’s NTC Invitational. All the matches will be played on the Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California.

Each of the match days – June 2, 4 and 6 – will feature a doubleheader with the USA playing the second game of the day. The winner of the competition will be based on total points with the first tiebreakers being overall goal difference and then total goals scored. Admission to the matches is free to the public. Parking is free on June 2 and 4, but not on June 6 as there is a Los Angeles Galaxy game that evening at the StubHub Center. All tournament matches will be streamed live on



Kickoff (PT)

Location (U.S. Soccer NTC at StubHub Center)

Tues., June 2

Mexico vs. Brazil

3 p.m.

Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field – Field #1

Tues., June 2

USA vs. Japan

6 p.m.

Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field – Field #1

Thurs., June 4

Brazil vs. Japan

3 p.m.

Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field – Field #1

Thurs., June 4

USA vs. Mexico

6 p.m.

Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field – Field #1

Sat., June 6

Japan vs. Mexico

12 p.m.

Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field – Field #1

Sat., June 6

USA vs. Brazil

3 p.m.

Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field – Field #1

All of the teams are currently preparing for qualifying for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup which will be held in Papau New Guinea. Like the USA, Brazil has participated in all seven of the FIFA U-19/U-20 Women’s World Cups that have been contested thus far. Japan has participated in four tournaments and Mexico has played in all but the 2004 tournament in Thailand that was a U-19 event.

U-20 Women’s National Team head coach Michelle French has called in 20 players for the tournament, seven of whom are already in college (two players enrolled early and have yet to play a college season in forward Kelcie Hedge (University of Washington and defender Kaleigh Riehl (Penn State) with seven more graduating this summer and heading off for their freshman seasons this fall.

Seven players on the roster were born in 1996, which is the age cut-off for next U-20 Women’s World Cup. Nine were born in 1997 with midfielder Jordan Harr, midfielder Savannah DeMelo and forward Mallory Pugh (all 1998s) and forward Ashley Sanchez (1999), the youngest players on the roster. Pugh was a starter for the U.S. team at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, while Sanchez was recently called up from the U-17 WNT and is age-eligible for the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup to be held in Jordan.

U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team Roster by Position
2015 U-20 Women’s NTC Invitational:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Samantha Leshnak (Ohio Elite; Liberty Township, Ohio), Casey Murphy (Rutgers; Bridgewater, N.J.)
DEFENDERS (6): Alana Cook (Match Fit FC; Far Hills, N.J.), Maddie Elliston (Penn State; Omaha, Neb.), Sabrina Flores (Notre Dame; Livingston, N.J.), Natalie Jacobs (Slammers FC; Coto de Caza, Calif.), Courtney Petersen (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.), Kaleigh Riehl (Penn State; Fairfax Station, Va.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Megan Buckingham (UNC; Novi, Mich.), Marley Canales (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Savannah DeMelo (Beach FC; Bellflower, Calif.), Jordan Harr (Dallas Sting; Sachse, Texas), Mikaela Harvey (Texas A&M; Liberty Hill, Texas), Kelcie Hedge (Washington; Post Falls, Idaho), Emily Ogle (Penn State; Strongsville, Ohio), Parker Roberts (KC Metro Dynamos; Leawood, Ks.)
FORWARDS (4): Hana Kerner (Match Fit FC; Upper Saddle River, N.J.), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Taylor Racioppi (PDA; Ocean Township, N.J.), Ashley Sanchez (SoCal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.)

Additional Notes:

  • The CONCACAF qualifying tournament 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup will be held in December in Honduras.
  • Each team is allowed to name 20 players on its tournament roster.
  • Teams will be allowed six total substitutions per game with no re-entry. In the second half of the matches, a team may stop the game a maximum of three times to make substitutions. During each of these stoppages, a team may make more than one substitution, up to the limit of the six total per match.
  • After goal difference and goals scored, the next tie-breakers will be the head-to-head result.
  • Players eligible for the 2015 U-20 Women’s NTC Invitational must have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1996, which is the age cut-off for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
  • There will be no suspensions for accumulation of yellow cards during the tournament, but a player receiving a red card will have to sit out a minimum of one match.

U.S. Set for Run in Historic Toulon Tournament

In France it has been called le lieu où naissent les étoiles, the place where stars are born. Always a gathering of the world’s top soccer powers, this year’s 43rd edition of the Toulon Tournament features regular competitors Netherlands, England and host France, as well as Costa Rica, China, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Mexico, Qatar and the USA.

“It’s a huge tournament,” U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Andi Herzog said. “I think at this age group, there’s the World Cup and for sure there’s the Olympic Tournament, but apart from those competitions, this is the biggest tournament in this age group. With all the teams like England, Netherlands, France, Mexico, and the USA competing against each other, at this age group that’s a really, really good competition and it’s a good challenge for us to show that we have a good team together.”

In 1975, Cesar Luis Menotti coached an Argentina youth squad featuring Daniel Passarella, Americo Gallego, Alberto Tarentini, and Jose Daniel Valencia to a championship in the third Toulon Tournament. Three years later, those four players were a part of the Argentina side that won the 1978 FIFA World Cup. Following the win, Menotti recalled Toulon as being a fundamental piece of the players’ development that led to their victory, and hence, le lieu où naissent les étoiles.

In the 40 years since, many of the biggest and most renowned footballers have made their mark in Toulon, and the tournament has proven to be a foreshadower of what’s to come in international play. In 2011, Colombian striker James Rodriguez earned honors as the Toulon Player of the Tournament. Three summers later, Rodriguez burst onto the scene and won the Golden Boot at the 2014 FIFA World cup after scoring six goals in five games.

Other international footballers who have also gained experience in the Toulon Tournament include: Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer, Javier Mascherano, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Nuno Gomes, Rui Costa and many more.

The U.S. was in Toulon for the tournament in 2013, competing with its U-20 MNT and taking seventh place. Their best finish in Toulon history dates back to 1989, when the team took third place behind Bulgaria and champion France.

This year the U-23’s will try to best that finish. To do that, they will have to navigate through group play matchups with France on May 27, Netherlands on May 29, Costa Rica on May 31 and Qatar on June 2.