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  • DateWednesday, April 1, 2009
  • VenueLP Field; Nashville, Tenn.
  • Kickoff6:45 PM
  • Attendance27,959
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USL Squads Dominate U.S. Open Cup Third Round as Dream Runs End for Nearly All Amateur Clubs

CHICAGO (May 27, 2015) – As Division II North American Soccer League sides entered the Third Round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the league matched up in seven battles with Division III United Soccer League counter parts. But the already tested USL sides went 6-0-1 in those matches, with Third Division Saint Louis FC also dispatching Minnesota United FC on penalties.

The Third Round wasn’t kind to Amateur Division teams, as the dream runs for Jersey Express, Chattanooga FC, Ventura County Fusion and Chula Vista FC all ended, but California side PSA Elite (USASA) became the tournament’s furthest advancing amateur team for the second year in a row, garnering the $15,000 cash prize awarded for the achievement.

Winners from Wednesday’s matches will face 15 different U.S.-based Major League Soccer sides in Fourth Round play on June 16-17. The draw to determine Fifth Round match-ups will be held at the conclusion of Fourth Round play on June 18. The Fifth Round is scheduled to be played June 30-July 1.

Third Round Results - Match Center

Date

Game

Time/Result

Venue

May 27

Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) at Chattanooga FC (NPSL)

1-1, 2-1 AET

Finley Stadium; Chattanooga, Tenn.

May 27

Charlotte Independence (USL) at Carolina RailHawks (NASL)

1-0

WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.

May 27

Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) at Charleston Battery (USL)

2-3

Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C.

May 27

Louisville City FC (USL) at Indy Eleven (NASL)

0-0, 2-0 AET

Carroll Stadium; Indianapolis, Ind.

May 27

Jersey Express (PDL) at New York Cosmos (NASL)

0-3

Belson Stadium (St. John’s Univ.); Queens, N.Y.

May 27

Rochester Rhinos (USL) at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL)

0-0, 3-1 AET

Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, Pa.

May 27

Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL) at Real Monarchs SLC (USL)

1-0

Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah

May 27^

Portland Timbers 2 (USL) at Seattle Sounders 2 (USL)

1-1, 1-2 AET

Starfire Stadium; Tukwila, Wash.

May 27

Jacksonville Armada (NASL) at Richmond Kickers (USL)

0-3

Richmond City Stadium; Richmond, Va.

May 27

Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) at Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL)

0-1

Highmark Stadium; Pittsburgh, Pa.

May 27

Minnesota United FC (NASL) at Saint Louis FC (USL)

1-1, (1-3 PK’s)

St. Louis Soccer Park; Fenton, Mo.

May 27

Austin Aztex (USL) at San Antonio Scorpions (NASL)

2-0

Toyota Field; San Antonio, Texas.

May 27

Oklahoma City Energy (USL) at Tulsa Roughnecks (USL)

1-0

ONEOK Field; Tulsa, Okla.

May 27

Chula Vista FC (USASA) at Sacramento Republic FC (USL)

3-7

Bonney Field; Sacramento, Calif.

May 27

PSA Elite (USASA) at Ventura County Fusion (PDL)

2-1

Ventura College Sportsplex; Ventura, Calif.

^Time Change May 19

Fourth Round Matchups

Date

Game

Time/Result

Venue

June 16

Rochester Rhinos (USL) at Philadelphia Union (MLS)

7:30 p.m. ET

PPL Park; Chester, Pa.

June 16

Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) at New York Red Bulls (MLS)

7:30 p.m. ET

Red Bull Arena; Harrison, N.J.

June 16

Saint Louis FC (USL) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS)

7:30 p.m. CT

Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.

June 16

Louisville FC (USL) at Chicago Fire (MLS)

7:30 p.m. CT

Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.

June 16

Oklahoma City Energy (USL) at FC Dallas (MLS)

8 p.m. CT

TCU Soccer Stadium; Ft. Worth, Texas

June 16

Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL) at Colorado Rapids (MLS)

7 p.m. MT

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Commerce City, Colo.

June 16*

Seattle Sounders 2 (USL) at Real Salt Lake (MLS)

8 p.m. MT

Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah

June 16

Sacramento Republic FC (USL) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

7:30 p.m. PT

Avaya Stadium; San Jose, Calif.

June 16

Portland Timbers (MLS) at Seattle Sounders (MLS)

7:30 p.m. PT

Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.

June 17

Columbus Crew SC (MLS) at Richmond Kickers (USL)

7 p.m. ET

Richmond City Stadium; Richmond, Va.

June 17

D.C. United (MLS) at Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL)

7 p.m. ET

Highmark Stadium; Pittsburgh, Pa.

June 17*

New York City FC (MLS) at New York Cosmos (NASL)

7:30 p.m. ET

Shuart Stadium; Hempstead, N.Y.

June 17

Orlando City (MLS) at Charleston Battery (USL)

7:30 p.m. ET

Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C.

June 17

Charlotte Independence (USL) at New England Revolution (MLS)

7:30 p.m. ET

Soldiers Field (Harvard Univ.); Boston, Mass.

June 17*

Austin Aztex (USL) at Houston Dynamo (MLS)

8 p.m. CT

BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas

June 17

PSA Elite (USASA) at LA Galaxy (MLS)

7:30 p.m. PT

StubHub Center; Carson, Calif.

*Date Change Announced May 27

THIRD ROUND RECAPS:
Game #1: Seattle Sounders FC 2 (USL) 2, Portland Timbers FC 2 (USL) 1 (a.e.t.)
It was a scoreless first half between the two rivals’ second teams, but not without chances. In the eighth minute, Portland Timbers 2’s ‘keeper Justin Luthy made a point-blank save off an effort from Seattle’s Victor Mansaray, and also managed to save a shot by the Sounders’ Andy Craven later in the half. Seattle’s ‘keeper Saif Kerawala was also called into action in the 23rd minute when he made a fantastic save on a low shot by Rundell Winchester, who had broken behind the Sounders 2 back line. The second half was more attacking, and in the 54th minute Rennico Clarke headed home a Blair Gavin corner kick to make it 1-0 for Timbers 2. Then in the 66th minute, Mansaray played Craven through for the second time in the half and the striker dribbled past Luthy before slotting it home to tie the game. In injury time, Qudus Lawal found himself in on goal, but Luthy made a great save to send the match to extra time. Seattle’s Pablo Rossi would find the game-winner in the 104th minute when Sam Garza played him through Portland’s defense as Rossi curled it to the back post to set up Sounders 2 with a Fourth Round date at Real Salt Lake.

Game #2: Harrisburg City Islanders (USL) 1, Rochester Rhinos (USL) 3 (a.e.t.)
For a game that spent the vast majority of time locked in a stalemate, the Third Round match between the Harrisburg City Islanders and Rochester Rhinos rewarded those who stuck around until the end with an extremely eventful finish. It was a scrappy game, with many cards, and in the 38th minute, Rochester’s Steevan Dos Santos received his second caution and was sent off. However, the 10-man Rhinos held on at 0-0 through regular time. In the second period of extra time, the game’s first goal finally came from the Islanders’ Brett Jankouskas, who slipped the ball past goalkeeper Brandon Miller off an Eric Bird assist. The floodgates opened, but not in the direction anyone expected. A minute later, Rochester struck back, with Kenardo Forbes capitalizing on a defensive lapse. Then, in the 115th minute, a bouncing ball in the box was slotted home by Rochester’s Asani Samuels. Just five minutes later, Samuels bagged a brace to push his side to a Fourth Round matchup at the Philadelphia Union.

Game #3: Richmond Kickers (USL) 3, Jacksonville Armada (NASL) 0
Hosting Jacksonville for the Florida club’s first-ever U.S. Open Cup match, the Richmond Kickers ran out to a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute as Fred Owusu Sekyere picked out the head of Brian Ownby, who nodded inside the far post. Richmond would extend their lead just before halftime as Jason Yeisley broke through the back line before finishing past Armada ‘keeper Miguel Gallardo in the 38th minute, tallying the club’s 100th goal in U.S. Open Cup play. Whistled for a penalty kick early into the second half, Jacksonville fell further behind when George Davis IV easily placed his effort to the right of Gallardo to give the Kickers a 3-0 lead in the 51st minute. The padded lead helped Richmond see out the match, pushing the USL side to a Fourth Round home date against the Columbus Crew.

Game #4: Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL) 1, Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) 0
After 90 minutes of high pressing and numerous attempts, it seemed like the Pittsburgh Riverhounds just couldn’t get one over on their NASL competition the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The ‘Hounds had the lion’s share of the possession, much of which was in the Rowdies’ half, but they had nothing to show for it.  A low save by former MLS keeper Matt Pickens from Kevin Kerr’s vicious half-volley kept the Rowdies in the game in the 79th minute. Then, just as the fourth official was announcing stoppage time, Rob Vincent picked the ball up, strode up field, and unleashed a 25-yard bullet into the bottom-left corner, giving Pickens no chance and the Riverhounds a 1-0 victory.  Pittsburgh advances to the Fourth Round where it’ll host MLS side D.C. United.

Game #5: Chattanooga FC (NPSL) 1 vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) 2 (a.e.t.)
The dream is over for underdog darlings Chattanooga FC after their 2-1 extra time defeat to the NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks. After 87 scoreless minutes, Chattanooga looked likely to pull the “Cupset”  when Luke Winter, put home a Jon Finlay cross.  However, just two minutes later the Silverbacks bounced back, winning a penalty and a chance to take the game to extra time, which Shaka Bangura converted with style. In the 109th minute, Atlanta’s Jaime Chavez broke Chattanooga’s hearts with a super strike to give his team the 2-1 lead. Despite Chattanooga’s best efforts, the Division II Silverbacks held on, setting up a Fourth Round match away to the New York Red Bulls.

Game #6: Charlotte Independence (USL) 1, Carolina RailHawks (NASL) 0
In the first-ever meeting between the two sides from the Tar Heel state, neither team could find a firm footing in attack and instead traded possession through much of the first hour. In the 71st minute, an Independence forward seemed to be taken down in the box, but the referee waived played on. Ten minutes later though, Ryan Finley came good, finding the back of the net to take Charlotte to a 1-0 victory over their NASL counterparts. The win pushes the first-year USL side to a Fourth Round clash with the New England Revolution.

Game #7: Charleston Battery 3, Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) 2
In one of seven NASL vs. USL matches on the night, the Division II Fort Lauderdale Strikers drew first blood early when Dani Sanchez slipped Bruno Nunes through to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute. After working out the early jitters, Charleston would find the equalizer when Dane Kelly laid a ball back for Ricky Garbanzo, who smashed a half-volley into the roof of the net in the 30th minute. Fort Lauderdale would go back into the lead just before halftime when Sanchez fired home a strong toe poke from the top of the area in the 40th minute. Trailing in the second half, the hosting Battery side began to put the pedal down and found the equalizer in the 77th minute when a Fort Lauderdale giveaway in the back was pounced on by Dane Kelly. The Jamaican played a quick pass across the box for Zach Prince, who first-timed his effort inside the right post. Catching the Strikers out in transition, the Battery would find their first lead of the match two minutes later as Garbanzo moved up the right before picking out Kelly at the back post where he finished the game-winner from close range in the 79th minute. With the victory, Charleston will host Orlando City SC in Fourth Round action.

Game #8: Indy Eleven (NASL) 0, Louisville City FC (USL) 2 (a.e.t.)
In a game that was delayed because of severe weather in central Indiana, I-65 rivals Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC played a physical first half before trading blows in the second frame, but neither side could find a goal to settle the match in regulation. Just as it seemed the match would head to extra time, the visitors from Louisville broke through as Nate Polak’s effort from outside the box beat Indy ‘keeper Kristian Nicht in the 115th minute. With Indy pushing everything forward in search of the equalizer, Louisville struck again just before time when Matt Fondy’s shot was saved by Nicht but Sidney Rivera was there to sweep in the rebound, sending the USL side home with a 2-0 win. Louisville will get their first crack at an MLS team when they visit the Chicago Fire in the Fourth Round.  

Game #9: New York Cosmos (NASL) 3, vs. Jersey Express (PDL) 0
Fourteen minutes into the match, the Cosmos’ Leo Fernandes hit a nice free kick over the Express wall to give the home side a 1-0 lead. Then, in the 40th minute, Cosmos’ Sebastian Guenzatti beat multiple Express defenders before finishing to make it 2-0. For much of the second half the Cosmos continued to force their will on the match and found the third and final goal in the 79th minute when Haji Wright made a run into the box and passed to Fernandes, who was brought down for a penalty kick. Mads Stokelien converted the penalty to give the Cosmos a 3-0 lead in the 81st minute. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the Cosmos, though, as Sam Caceres received a straight red for a nasty foul in the 90th minute. Still, the NASL side eased to victory over the Express, setting up a Fourth Round matchup with nascent neighbors New York City FC.

Game #10: Saint Louis FC 1 (USL), vs. Minnesota United FC (NASL) 1 (3-1 PKs)
Following a scoreless first half, Minnesota United was rewarded for early second half pressure when Geison Moura’s shot clanged off the cross bar before falling for JC Banks who finished from close range in the 53rd minute. Their backs against the wall, Saint Louis were relentless in attack and found their equalizing opportunity when United defender Tyler Polak chopped down Saint Louis’s Charles Renken in the penalty area, forcing the referee to point to the spot. Bryan Gaul calmly stepped up and placed his effort past United ‘keeper Mitch Hildebrandt to send the match to extra time. While both teams traded blows in the extra period, a goal couldn’t be found and the match went to a shootout. In the tie breaker, only U.S. international Miguel Ibarra could convert out of four attempts for Minnesota, while Saint Louis bagged all three of their spot kicks to down United 3-1 in the shootout. With the win, Saint Louis FC will visit Sporting Kansas City in Fourth Round play.

Game #11: Tulsa Roughnecks (USL) 0, Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL) 1
The Third Round match between the Tulsa Roughnecks and the Oklahoma City Energy was short on goals, but not on shots. Nearing the final minutes, the match looked destined for extra time, when, seemingly out of nowhere, Energy FC substitute Peter Toth blasted a shot from distance which squeezed into the top-left corner. Heartbreak for the Roughnecks, as Oklahoma City Energy advance to the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup where they’ll pay a visit to FC Dallas.

Game #12: San Antonio Scorpions 0 (NASL), Austin Aztex (USL) 2
USL continued its advantage over the NASL in Texas when the Austin Aztex downed the San Antonio Scorpions 2-0 Wednesday night. Playing away from home, the Aztex played a high energy, pressing game the Scorpions had no answer for. In the 51st minute, the Aztex’s Michael Ambrose scored off a beautiful strike from about 30 yards out. Then, on a counter-attack in the 78th minute, the Aztex’s Trevin Caesar latched on to a through ball before slamming the insurance marker home to earn a 2-0 away win. With the victory, Austin advanced to the competition’s Fourth Round where they’ll visit Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo.

Game #13: Real Monarchs SLC 0 (USL), Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL) 1
Real Monarchs welcomed their neighbors to the east to Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday night, but it was the side from Colorado that had the early ideas as Josh Phillips chipped Aaron King in alone before the striker beat Real ‘keeper Eric Osswald in the fifth minute. The home side nearly pulled level when Emery Welshman was picked out in the box, but his header went just wide of the post in the 33rd minute. As the teams tried to return from halftime, a bout of severe weather forced the match to be delayed. Once the game continued, Real continued on looking for tying goal, but saw their best chances come in second half stoppage time. First Max Rauhoffer’s half volley came back off the cross bar, before Maikon Orellana put his effort just wide left of the post moments before the referee whistled for time. With the victory, the Switchbacks move on to an in-state Fourth Round match as they visit the Colorado Rapids.

Game #14: Ventura County Fusion (PDL) 1, PSA Elite (USASA) 2
In the only Third Round battle between two Amateur Division teams, PSA Elite looked good to return to the Fourth Round for the second straight year when Mats Bjurman scored his third goal of the tournament from the penalty spot in the 39th minute. With the opportunity to face defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy hanging over both teams heads, the home side responded in the 72nd minute when Jinho Kim’s curling free kick was flicked on by Sola Abolaji before Abdullah Adam slammed the equalizer home. Both sides looked for the odd goal late but it was the visiting USASA side that found it when Justin Dhillon slammed home in the 80th minute. The victory combined with other results Wednesday hands PSA Elite a $15,000 prize as the furthest advancing amateur team and a Fourth Round date away to the LA Galaxy.

Game #15: Sacramento Republic FC  (USL) 7, Chula Vista FC (USASA) 3
Following a high-flying entrance into Open Cup play, Sacramento started where they left off last week when Octavio Guzmano was played towards box and flicked his effort home for a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute. Though Republic FC dictated much of the play, the young side from Chula Vista evened things up when Francisco Ramirez converted a spot kick in the 39th minute. The amateurs were no doubt looking to take that score into halftime, but Sacramento had other ideas as Adnon Gabeljic restored a 2-1 lead in the 43rd. On the other side of the break, Sacramento’s Tommy Stewart found some space on the right side of the box before turning to bury his effort inside the far left post for his tournament leading fourth goal in the 52nd minute. Just seven minutes later Gabljic popped up again to make it 4-1 and earned a penalty minutes later, but Sebastian Ortiz saved Rodrigo Lopez’s 63rd minute attempt. The fifth would eventually come from Zev Taublieb in the 73rd minute, but Chula Vista responded with a small comeback as Joey Estrada got on the end of a loose ball and chipped to the left post in the 74th minute. Eight minutes later, Mario Rubio popped up to pull Chula Vista back to within two goals, but Sacramento Republic put the hammer back down as Lopez fired home in the 85th minute before Gabeljic completed his hat trick and the 7-3 score line in the 89th minute. With the win, Sacramento Republic advances to a Fourth Round match at San Jose Earthquakes.

U-23 MNT Falls to Host France in Toulon Tournament Opener

TOULON, France (May 27, 2015) – Despite a strong second half, the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team fell to host-France 3-1 on Wednesday in their opening group match of the 2015 Toulon Tournament.

France came out on the attack and a pair of U.S. mistakes resulted in two goals for the tournament hosts in the game’s first 11 minutes. In the 21st minute France extended its lead to three off of a Stephane Sparagna free kick.

The U.S. battled for the remaining minutes of the first half and controlled the ball on France’s side of the pitch, but could not turn possession into any chances. The U-23s carried the momentum from the end of the first half into the second and got on the board in the 65th minute when Marco Pelosi fed Jordan Morris for the USA’S first goal of the tournament.

The U-23s applied the pressure for the remaining minutes, but were unable to earn a result.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
FRA- Fares Bahlouli, 10th minute: 
Cody Cropper made a diving save and parried the ball away, but the deflected ball was not cleared. Fares Bahlouli picked it up for France and promptly smashed it past a still-recovering Cropper and into the bottom right corner. USA 0, FRA 1

FRA- Enzo Cervelli, 11th minute: After intercepting off the kickoff following the first goal, France got the ball out to Lemar Thomas, who brought it down and got forward with pace on the left side. Thomas sent a hard shot at Cropper who dove and knocked it away. Off the rebound Enzo Cervelli jumped and headed it in to give France an early 2-0 lead. USA 0, FRA 2

FRA- Stephane Sparagna, 21st minute: A USA foul set up France with a free kick from 20 yards out, above the top corner of the box. The France captain Sparagna sent in a low, hard ball that threaded a number of players and ended in the lower right corner of the goal. USA 0, FRA 3

USA- Jordan Morris (Marc Pelosi) 65th Minute: Marc Pelosi played a square ball to Jordan Morris in the center of the park 45 yards from goal. Morris spun and burst past a pair of French defenders. With just the ‘keeper to beat, the U.S. forward calmly slipped a shot past and into the lower right corner. USA 1, FRA 3 (FINAL)

Milestone Watch:

  • Jordan Morris has now scored in back-to-back games with the U-23s and three straight for the U.S. overall counting his goal with the senior team in their 2-0 win against Mexico on April 15.
  • Marc Pelosi made his first appearance in a U.S. uniform in more than two years, having recovered from a series of injuries. He earned his first cap with the U-23 MNT and tallied an assist.
  • Sam Strong earned his first cap with the U-23 MNT

Next on the Schedule:
The U-23 MNT faces the Netherlands on May 29 at Stade Perruc in Hyeres, France
Broadcast information: 11 a.m. ET BeIN SPORTS 
Social: Twitter @ussoccer

Additional Notes:

  • This match was the first between France and the USA at the U-23 age level.
  • Benji Joya, who scored the lone goal for the U.S. in the match against France in the 2013 Toulon Tournament (when the teams met as U-20 opponents), made the start tonight as the captain.
  • Joya and Shane O’Neill are the only players on the roster that have started in all four games this year for the U-23s.
  • Jordan Morris, who earned ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors, recorded his third goal in 2015 with the U-23s and the fourth of his five-game career with the team.

- U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team vs. France
Date: May 27, 2015
Competition: 2015 Toulon Tournament
Venue: Stade Leo Lagrange; Toulon, France
Kickoff: 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET)
Attendance: 812
Weather: 70 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:           1              2              F
USA                                   0              1              1
FRA                                   3              0              3

FRA – Fares Bahlouli                                 10th minute
FRA- Enzo Crivelli                                     11
FRA- Stephane Sparagna                            21
USA- Jordan Morris (Marc Pelosi)             65 

Lineups:
USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 3-Boyd Okwuonu,  5-Will Packwood (6-Sam Strong, 73), 4-Shane O’Neill, 2-Juan Pablo Ocegueda (7-Dillon Serna, 62); 8-Benji Joya (capt.), 16-Daniel Metzger, 10-Marc Pelosi; 17-Jerome Keisewetter (11-Alonso Hernandez ,73), 9-Jordan Morris, 16-Julian Green (15-Alfred Koroma Shams, 62)
Subs Not Used:, 12-Charlie Horton, 13-Fatai Alashe, 18-Jalen Robinson, 20-Tyler Turner, 22-Tyler Miller
Head coach: Andreas Herzog

FRA: 1-Thomas Didillon; 15 Raphael Diarra, 5-Stephane Sparagna, 4-Presnel Kimpembe, 2-Damien Dussau, 13-Baptiste Santamaria (8-Adrien Hunou, 61), 6-Yann Bodiger, 11-Lemar Thomas, 20-Romain Habran (19- Aristote Madiani, 51), 9-Enzo Crivelli (14-Ulrich Nnomo, 65), 18-Fares Bahlouli (10-Younes Kaabouni, 61)
Subs Not Used: 3-Louis Nganinoni,  7-Jean-Luc Diarra-Dompe, 12-Marco Ilamaharita, 16-Louis Souchad, 17-Jordan Diakiese
Head coach: Francis Smerecki 

Stats Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 5 / 9
Shots on Goal: 4 /5
Saves: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 8
Offside: 1 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Jerome Kiesewetter (caution)                      19th minute
FRA- Presnel Kimpembe (caution)                          38
FRA- Stephane Sparagn (caution)                            49
FRA- Yann Badiger (caution)                                  54

Officials
Referee: Adi Zourak (MAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Hacham  Ait Abbou (MAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Yahya Nouali (MAR)
4th Official: Romo Macias (MEX)

ussocer.com Man of the Match: Jordan Morris 

U.S. Soccer Federation Statement

The United States Soccer Federation firmly believes there is no higher priority, and nothing more important, than protecting the integrity of our game. We are committed to the highest ethical standards and business practices, and we will continue to encourage CONCACAF and FIFA to promote the same values. Out of respect for the ongoing investigation, we will not speculate or comment further on this matter at this time. 

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.

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.”

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