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US Soccer

U.S. WNT Opens 2016 with 5-0 Win Against Republic of Ireland in Front of Record Crowd in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (Jan. 23, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team opened its 2016 campaign with a dominant 5-0 shutout against the Republic of Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium in front of 23,309 fans, a record crowd to watch a WNT game in San Diego.

It was all USA from the beginning as midfielder Carli Lloyd scored three goals in 28 minutes with her first coming in the sixth, and was assisted twice by Alex Morgan, who was celebrating her 100th game with the WNT. The scoring duo swapped roles just before the break as it was Lloyd who provided the assist for Morgan for a 4-0 halftime U.S. lead.

Forward Mallory Pugh, the captain of the U-20 Women’s National Team that will compete at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea later this year, came in for Morgan in the 58th minute of the game to make her USWNT debut. At 17 years, 8 months and 25 days, she is the youngest player to make her debut in the last 11 years of the program and became the 19th player to score in her first cap when she added the fifth and final goal of the game in the 83rd minute of the game.

The WNT is now 12-0-0 all-time vs. Ireland. Of the 12 meetings, seven have seen the USA score five goals.

Up next, the USWNT travels to the Lone Star State to begin the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship from Feb. 10-21 for a berth to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Carli Lloyd (Alex Morgan), 6th minute: Alex Morgan ran deep into the attacking third down the left side and crossed the ball on the ground. An unmarked Carli Lloyd outran the defense and finished with her right foot into the back of the net. USA 1, IRL 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Carli Lloyd, (Alex Morgan), 21st minute: Tobin Heath began the play with a deep run on the left flank and crossed the ball towards the back post. Alex Morgan headed it on goal but Ireland’s goalkeeper Emma Byrne punched it out. Carli Lloyd took advantage of the poor clearance and headed it to the back of the net from close range for her second goal of the day. Carli was shaken up after she knocked heads with an Ireland defender on the play but was okay and retuned to the game shortly after. USA 2, IRL 0. (SEE GOAL)

USA – Carli Lloyd, 28th minute: Carli Lloyd stole possession thanks to a poor Ireland pass to run past the defense and slot the ball past the goalkeeper for her third goal of the game. USA 3, IRL 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd), 45th minute: Ali Krieger played a great ball from the right side to the middle of the box. Carli Lloyd jumped up for the header but the ball bounced off the post. Alex Morgan was there for the loose ball and tapped it in for the USA’s fourth goal of the game. USA 4, IRL 0

USA – Mallory Pugh (Christen Press), 83rd minute: Christen Press made the first run to get inside the box and looked to cross the ball before running out of bounds. The cross reached Pugh, who was quick to head it to the near post for her first international goal in her first cap. USA 5, IRL 0. FINAL. (SEE GOAL)

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Hope Solo, 80th: Late in the game, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo was called into action on back-to-back plays, but both times she was ready to preserve the shutout for the USA.

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT heads to Texas to begin the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship that will run from Feb. 10-21 in Houston and Dallas. The USA will open the Olympic Qualifying Championship in Group A against Costa Rica on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m. CT. TV information will be released at a later date and ticket info is available here. The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for a sixth consecutive Olympic Games and win the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship for the fourth consecutive time.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt@ussoccer_esp); FacebookInstagram; Snapchat (ussoccer_wnt)

Milestone Watch:

  • Forward Alex Morgan became the 34th player in U.S. history to play 100 times for her country. Morgan debuted on Oct. 2, 2010, vs. China.
  • Carli Lloyd has scored 82 international goals. She is in sixth place on the USWNT all-scoring list. Lloyd has scored 19 goals in the USA’s last 14 matches, starting with the Round of 16 game vs. Colombia at the WWC in 2015. Her three goals today marked this her sixth career hat trick.
  • Mallory Pugh made her debut for the USWNT, coming in for Alex Morgan in the second half. Pugh, the captain of the U-20 WNT team that will compete at the U-20 WWC in Papua New Guinea at the end of the year, is 17 years, 8 months and 25 days old, becoming the youngest player to debut for the U.S. in the last 11 years. Heather O’Reilly debuted for the WNT just a few months past her 17th birthday in 2002 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. Amy Rodriguez debuted at the 2005 Algarve Cup just a few months past her 18th birthday. Lauren Holiday first trained with the senior team a few months shy of her 18th birthday in 2005.
  • With her goal in the 83rd minute, Pugh becomes the 19th U.S. player to score in her debut. The last player to do it was Stephanie McCaffrey on Oct. 25, 2015 against Brazil. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Pugh is the youngest WNT goal scorer in the last 16 years and sixth youngest in team history.
  • Hope Solo recorded her 91st career shutout in today’s match. With 186 caps, she is the leader for caps by a goalkeeper in U.S. history. Briana Scurry earned 173 caps in her career (1994-2008).
  • Midfielder Samantha Mewis made her first career start for the U.S. WNT and earned her fifth cap.
  • Defender Whitney Engen made her first start for the USA since doing so against England on Feb. 13, 2015.
  • Jaelene Hinkle, Stephanie McCaffrey and Emily Sonnett all earned their fifth caps. It was Sonnett’s second start. Lindsey Horan earned her seventh cap and fourth start.
  • Today’s attendance was 23,309, which marks the largest crowd to watch a U.S. WNT match in San Diego. The previous record was 12,857 (a 3-0 win vs. China PR on April 10, 2014, also at Qualcomm Stadium).
  • Solo has 143 goalkeeper wins and is the all-time leader in wins for a goalkeeper in U.S. history. Scurry posted 133 wins during her career (1994-2008).

Additional Notes:

  • Carli Lloyd is the USA’s top scorer on the roster with 82 career international goals. Alex Morgan is next with 57 and Heather O’Reilly has scored 46.
  • Heather O'Reilly earned her 228th cap when she came on at halftime. She’s currently the most capped player on the team.
  • Midfielder Carli Lloyd and defender Becky Sauerbrunn have been named captains of the U.S. Women's National Team by head coach Jill Ellis. The duo becomes the 13th and 14th players officially named captain of the U.S. WNT over the 31 years of the program, although many others have worn the captain's band during a match.
  • On January 11 at the FIFA Gala Awards in Zurich, Switzerland, Carli Lloyd, the co-captain of the U.S. Women's National Team, was named the 2015 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, and Jill Ellis, who led the USA to the 2015 Women's World Cup title, was named as the 2015 World Coach of the Year for Women's Soccer
  • Long-time U.S. captain Christie Rampone underwent arthroscopic surgery on her left knee before Christmas and midfielder Megan Rapinoe is doing well in her rehab from ACL surgery. Forward Amy Rodriguez is pregnant with her second child and will be off the soccer field for a large part of the year.
  • The match in San Diego was the USA’s sixth match in “America’s Finest City” and second at Qualcomm Stadium, current home to the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. The U.S. Women have never lost in San Diego but did tie their first match there, 0-0, against Japan on Jan. 12, 2003. This is the second time the USA has played Ireland in San Diego, winning 5-0 both times (July 23, 2006 and January 23, 2016). 

 - U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Republic of Ireland
Date: Jan. 23, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego, Calif.
Kickoff: 2 p.m. PT
Attendance: 23,309
Weather: 65 degrees; mostly cloudy

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             4          1          5
IRL                               0          0          0

USA – Carli Lloyd (Alex Morgan)                                    6th minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (Alex Morgan)                                    21
USA – Carli Lloyd                                                          28
USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd)                                    45
USA – Mallory Pugh (Christen Press)                              83

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 27-Emily Sonnett (5-Kelley O’Hara, 58), 6-Whitney Engen, 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 29-Samantha Mewis, 31-Lindsey Horan (26-Jaelene Hinkle, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd (12-Christen Press, 46); 25-Crystal Dunn (9-Heather O’Reilly, 46), 13-Alex Morgan (capt.) (22-Mallory Pugh, 58), 17-Tobin Heath (28-Stephanie McCaffrey, 46)
Subs Not Used: 18-Ashlyn Harris, 21-Alyssa Naeher
Head coach: Jill Ellis

IRL: 1-Emma Byrne (capt.), 2-Sophie Perry (11-Julie Ann Russell, 46), 3-Megan Campbell, 4-Louise Quinn, 6-Karen Duggan (17-Meabh De Burca, 72), 7-Diane Caldwell (14-Jessica Gleeson, 46), 8-Aine O’Gorman, 9-Ruesha Littlejohn (18-Megan Connolly, 65), 10-Denise O’Sullivan, 13-Stephanie Roche (21-Fiona O’Sullivan, 46), 15-Katie McCabe (12-Siobhan Killeen, 65)
Subs Not Used: 5-Ciara Rossiter, 16-Niamh Reid Burke, 19-Clare Shine, 20-Grace Wright, 22-Savannah McCarthy
Head coach: Sue Ronan

Stats Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 23 / 2
Shots on Goal: 9 / 2
Saves:  2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 8
Offside: 0 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Karen Abt (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Amanda Ross (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Deleana Quan (USA)
4th Official: Ekaterina Koroleva (USA)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd

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WNT Jan 23, 2016

 - U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Republic of Ireland
Date: Jan. 23, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego, Calif.
Kickoff: 2 p.m. PT
Attendance: 23,309
Weather: 65 degrees; mostly cloudy

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             4          1          5
IRL                               0          0          0

USA – Carli Lloyd (Alex Morgan)                                    6th minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (Alex Morgan)                                    21
USA – Carli Lloyd                                                          28
USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd)                                    45
USA – Mallory Pugh (Christen Press)                              83

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 27-Emily Sonnett (5-Kelley O’Hara, 58), 6-Whitney Engen, 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 29-Samantha Mewis, 31-Lindsey Horan (26-Jaelene Hinkle, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd (12-Christen Press, 46); 25-Crystal Dunn (9-Heather O’Reilly, 46), 13-Alex Morgan (capt.) (22-Mallory Pugh, 58), 17-Tobin Heath (28-Stephanie McCaffrey, 46)
Subs Not Used: 18-Ashlyn Harris, 21-Alyssa Naeher
Head coach: Jill Ellis

IRL: 1-Emma Byrne (capt.), 2-Sophie Perry (11-Julie Ann Russell, 46), 3-Megan Campbell, 4-Louise Quinn, 6-Karen Duggan (17-Meabh De Burca, 72), 7-Diane Caldwell (14-Jessica Gleeson, 46), 8-Aine O’Gorman, 9-Ruesha Littlejohn (18-Megan Connolly, 65), 10-Denise O’Sullivan, 13-Stephanie Roche (21-Fiona O’Sullivan, 46), 15-Katie McCabe (12-Siobhan Killeen, 65)
Subs Not Used: 5-Ciara Rossiter, 16-Niamh Reid Burke, 19-Clare Shine, 20-Grace Wright, 22-Savannah McCarthy
Head coach: Sue Ronan

Stats Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 23 / 2
Shots on Goal: 9 / 2
Saves:  2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 8
Offside: 0 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Karen Abt (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Amanda Ross (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Deleana Quan (USA)
4th Official: Ekaterina Koroleva (USA)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd

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US Soccer

Julian Araujo Replaces Ayo Akinola on USA's U-20 World Cup Roster

CHICAGO (May 22, 2019) — U.S. forward Ayo Akinola has been ruled out of the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup due to an ankle injury. After FIFA granted U.S. Soccer’s request to have Akinola replaced, LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo has been added to the 21-player roster for the World Cup.

Per regulations, an injured player may be replaced on the roster up to 24 hours prior to a team's opening match. The replacement must come from the 50-player provisional roster and approved by the tournament medical committee.

Araujo was a part of the U.S. squad that won the 2018 Concacaf Under-20 Championship last November, picking up an assist in two group stage starts. Most recently, the 17-year-old played in two friendlies for the U-23 MNT against Egypt and Netherlands in March.

At the club level, Araujo has become a regular contributor for the LA Galaxy this season, logging 289 minutes in five appearances.

The USA kicks off the U-20 World Cup on Friday, May 24 against Ukraine (2:30 p.m. ET; FS1, Universo), faces Nigeria on Monday, May 27 (2:30 p.m. ET; FS1, Universo) and wraps up the group stage on Thursday, May 30 vs. Qatar (2:30 p.m. ET; FS2, Universo).  

2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Roster by Position (Club; Hometown; U-20 Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): CJ Dos Santos (Benfica/POR; Foxchase, Pa.; 2/0), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.; 4/0), Brady Scott (Köln/GER; Petaluma, Calif.; 9/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.; 2/0), Sergino Dest (Ajax/NED; Almere-Stad, Netherlands; 8/1), Chris Gloster (Hannover 96/GER; Montclair, N.J.; 11/0), Aboubacar Keita (Richmond Kickers; Columbus, Ohio; 2/0), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; Bear, Del.; 10/3), Matthew Real (Philadelphia Union; Drexel Hill, Pa.; 10/0), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich/GER; Birmingham, Ala.; 8/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Edwin Cerrillo (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas; 0/0), Chris Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.; 2/0), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven/NED; Phoenix, Ariz.; 4/0), Alex Mendez (Freiburg/GER; Los Angeles, Calif.; 15/8), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; Highland Village, Texas; 9/3), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas; 8/2)
FORWARDS (5): Konrad De La Fuente (Barcelona/ESP; Miami, Fla.; 2/1), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg/GER; Lynwood, Calif.; 11/7), Justin Rennicks (New England Revolution; South Hamilton, Mass.; 13/6), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96/GER; San Diego, Calif.; 5/2), Tim Weah (Celtic FC/SCO; Rosedale, N.Y.; 0/0)

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U-20 MNT May 22, 2019
US Soccer

MNT Announces Combined Preparation Camp Roster to Begin Summer

CHICAGO (May 22, 2019) – The U.S. will open its summer schedule with a combined preparation camp with players from the Senior and U-23 Men’s National Teams from May 26-June 2 in Annapolis, Md. The initial group will include senior National Team players who are eligible for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup along with a number of U-23 internationals who are getting ready for their own training camp to be held from June 10-16 in Salt Lake City.

The camp shifts gears the weekend of June 1, when those players not on the provisional Gold Cup roster depart and the senior team players from MLS and the remaining European-based contingent report. The complete MNT camp roster will be announced next week.

The final list of 23 players for the Gold Cup is due by midnight of June 5 and must come from the below provisional roster of 40 players that was submitted May 16 to Concacaf.

PROVISIONAL GOLD CUP ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals)

GOALKEEPERS (5)Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 60/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 4/1), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 7/0), Tyler Miller (LAFC; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 8/0)

DEFENDERS (15): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 10/1), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 2/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG; 7/0), Marlon Fossey (Fulham/ENG; 0/0), Greg Garza (FC Cincinnati; 10/0), Omar Gonzalez (Club Atlas/MEX; 49/3), Andrew Gutman (Charlotte Independence; 0/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 5/0), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 3/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 12/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 28/1), Antonee Robinson (Everton/ENG; 6/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 6/2)

MIDFIELDERS (9)Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 145/17), Duane Holmes (Derby County/ENG; 0/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 9/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 8/1), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; 2/0), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United FC; 25/1), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 25/10), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 9/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 15/0) 

FORWARDS (11): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 110/41), Jonathan Amon (Nordsjælland/DEN; 1/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 19/3), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 3/0), Tyler Boyd (Ankaragücü/TUR; 0/0), Joe Gyau (Duisburg/GER; 2/0), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; 4/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 27/5), Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 2/1), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 6/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 44/7) 

“Bringing together senior team players with several of the U-23 internationals gives us a fantastic opportunity to continue to instill our culture and style of play across the National Team programs,” Berhalter said. “We expect it to be a very productive week, and then we look forward to bringing in our full group before the game against Jamaica as we narrow in on the final selections for the Gold Cup roster.”

The U.S. Men’s National Team will open its final preparation phase for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup by hosting a rematch of the 2017 final against Jamaica on June 5 in Washington, D.C. Kickoff for the USA’s first visit to Audi Field is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on FS1, UniMas and UDN.

Making its first visit to Cincinnati, the U.S. Men’s National Team will face Venezuela on June 9 in its final preparation match for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. Kickoff at Nippert Stadium is set for 2 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast on FOX and UniMás.

Fans can follow both matches via U.S. Soccer’s official Facebook, Twitter (@USMNT) and Instagram (@USMNT) accounts.

SUMMER TRAINING CAMP ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; MNT Caps/Goals)
May 26-June 2; Players eligible for the Gold Cup roster are BOLDED

GOALKEEPERS (3): JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Andrew Thomas (Stanford; 0/0), Justin Vom Steeg (LA Galaxy; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG; 7/0), Marlon Fossey (Fulham/ENG; 0/0), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas/MEX; 49/3), Andrew Gutman (Charlotte independence; 0/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 12/1), Tim Ream (Fulham; 28/1), Antonee Robinson (Everton/ENG; 6/0)

MIDFIELDERS (4): Duane Holmes (Derby County/ENG; 0/0), Emerson Hyndman (Bournemouth/ENG; 2/0), Keaton Parks (New York City FC; 1/0), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; 0/0)

FORWARDS (6): Jonathan Amon (Nordsjælland/DEN; 1/0), Luca de la Torre (Fulham/ENG; 1/0), Joe Gyau (Duisburg/GER; 2/0), Josh Perez (LAFC; 0/0), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 6/2); Haji Wright (Schalke/GER; 0/0)

SUMMER TRAINING CAMP ROSTER NOTES

  • Part of the 40-player provisional Gold Cup roster, Marlon Fossey, Andrew Gutman and Duane Holmes will look to earn their first caps in the June 5 friendly against Jamaica.
  • Defenders Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga and Antonee Robinson each come to camp after successful loan stints in the English League Championship.
  • Having joined Reading on loan from Chelsea in January, Miazga helped the Royals to a 5-4-9 record and 24 points across their final 18 matches, one point more than what the club had achieved in its previous 26 games as they staved off relegation.
  • Carter-Vickers made 33 appearances across all competitions while on loan with Swansea City, helping the Welsh-based club to a 10th place league finish.
  • After suffering an ankle injury during the MNT’s November camp, Robinson returned strong in the second half of the season for Wigan Athletic, finishing the campaign with 26 appearances across all competitions.
  • Set to appear in his first U.S. National Team camp, Holmes has collected two goals in 27 appearances for Derby County, while helping the Rams to the English League Championship’s Promotion Playoff Final on Monday against Aston Villa.
  • Having returned to the MNT in March, Tim Ream finished the 2018-19 English Premier League season with 29 appearances for Fulham.
  • Omar Gonzalez closed the 2019 Liga MX Clausura having played in 16 of a possible 21 matches for Atlas.
  • Having debuted in the MNT’s 1-1 draw with Peru last October, winger Jonathan Amon has registered five goals and two assists in 25 matches this season for Danish Superliga side Nordsjælland.
  • Winger Joe Gyau returns to MNT camp for the first time since 2014, coming off a campaign that saw him play in 24 matches and score two goals for 2.Bundesliga side Duisburg.
  • Thirteen players are age-eligible for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo: Jonathan Amon, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luca de la Torre, Kyle Duncan, Marlon Fossey, JT Marcinkowski, Keaton Parks, Antonee Robinson, Josh Sargent, Andrew Thomas, Justin Vom Steeg, Eryk Williamson and Haji Wright.
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MNT May 22, 2019
US Soccer

Madison’s Pink Flamingos Take Flight

Peter Wilt has looked at life, and soccer, from both sides now.

As president and general manager of the Chicago Fire in the late 1990s and early 2000s, his MLS team was always one of the alpha clubs in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, winning the tournament three times during his tenure. This spring, in a similar executive capacity with fledgling Forward Madison F.C., Wilt’s Wisconsin side is the last USL League 1 team left in the brackets, the confident underdog.

Wilt is actually enjoying this ride a bit more. “It’s so cool for David to go up against Goliath,” he said. “It’s more fun to punch up than punch down.”


(Fans at Breese Stadium are still waiting for the Open Cup coin to flip their way)

Forward Madison – known more familiarly and ironically as the Flamingos – already managed a couple of early, road knockouts. They eliminated the 2018 national amateur champion Bavarians SC (Milwaukee, Wisc.) in the First Round and then, impressively, stepped up in class to defeat full pros El Paso Locomotive of the USL Championship (3-0).

On Wednesday, May 29, Madison head to historic St. Louis Soccer Park to face St. Louis FC, another USL Championship side. And if the Flamingos win that one, then it will be another preseason target reached.

Last Team Standing
“One of our goals this year was to be the last League 1 team standing, and we did that,” said Forward Madison head coach Daryl Shore, who was an assistant coach with the Fire during Wilt’s years there. “We also wanted to be the only League 1 team to play an MLS team, which would happen in the next round. Then the rest will be gravy.”

Madison’s march through the tournament is no fluke. This is a talented roster, filled with international athletes of considerable experience who were recruited by Wilt and Shore through long-held connections. The lineup features players from such far-flung shores as Mexico, Ecuador and Panama. Josiel Nunez, in particular, is a standout, a classic No. 10 playmaker who oddly wears No. 70 on his back. He has been capped 14 times by Panama and was signed through an agent who once represented legendary Mexico keeper Jorge Campos.

Nunez’s performances are being noticed in some high places – which was the whole idea when he signed with Madison.

“When he nutmegged two players and then back-passed by another, that highlight was on Bleacher Report,” Wilt said. “For Josiel, this is a platform hopefully that will lead to MLS. He’s 26, and the window is closing. But we’re fortunate to have him.”

A First for Madison
In their first season of existence, the Flamingos are the first-ever professional club of any kind in Madison, in any sport. This is, after all, the ultimate college town; home to the University of Wisconsin and its many Big Ten teams. So far, the city has welcomed Forward Madison with open arms and checkbooks too.

The city’s governors spent about $3 million to upgrade historic Breese Stevens Field, increasing capacity from 3,000 to 5,000. Other improvements included suites, a supporter standing section and a rooftop hospitality area under a canopy roof dating back to 1926.

“It’s an old stadium that has new life,” Wilt said of the former home of baseball’s pre-World War II Madison Blues. “Satchel Paige pitched here. Jesse Owens ran here.”


(Head coach Daryl Shore was once an assistant at MLS's Chicago Fire)

Fans have come in flocks. In fact, that’s what they call themselves, the Flock. It is all a play on that flamingos nickname, which requires considerable context.

Madison is a city known for its unique sense of humor, which is part of the story. The Onion, the satirical magazine and website, started here. Kentucky Fried Theater flourished in Madison, founded by the Zucker brothers who would create the such classic films as Airplane and the Naked Gun series.

Flamingo Mystery Solved
Back in 1978, the self-mocking Pail and Shovel Party was elected to the Wisconsin Student Association, promising to convert the organization’s funds into coins and to place them in pails for students to pillage. Instead, the party erected a replica Statue of Liberty in Lake Mendota and placed thousands of plastic flamingos on the campus’s Bascom Hill.

The flamingos were soon relocated all over the town and Madison’s “official bird” later became the plastic flamingo, by city ordinance. Local owners of the new pro soccer club named the club “Forward,” which is the Wisconsin state motto, but were wise enough to take advantage of the municipality’s playful reputation. The team’s crest includes a curled-up flamingo. The team’s colors are pink and two shades of blue. The pastels make you think the club is playing in Miami, not in famously frigid Madison.


(Forward Madison players after the big win in El Paso in the Second Round of the 2019 USOC)

Forward Madison is a partial affiliate of Minnesota United of MLS, at least during its first year in operation, which can lead to potentially awkward situations. Minnesota may send down a player and expect him to get match time, only to have Wilt and Shore feel otherwise. The Flamingos can’t use any of the Minnesota roster players in Cup matches, which disqualifies three starters. Then there is the real potential that Madison may next play Minnesota in the tournament, if the Flamingos win their Third-Round game.

First, there is a trip to St. Louis. The two sides played each other this season in an early exhibition match. Saint Louis FC won 1-0 in a competitive contest. Madison keeps losing the coin flips that determine the home team in each round of Open Cup play, which means another trip, this time to St. Louis. This is their third straight heads-or-tails, home-or-away defeat, which represents an unlucky 1-in-8 statistical chance.

“I’d like to get a look at the coin they’re using,” Shore said with a chuckle.


(Club president Peter Wilt - left - and the ubiquitous Forward Madison flamingo logo) 

Wilt offers a different solution. He’d like to see the lower-seeded club host every round of the U.S. Open Cup. “There’s some logic to that,” Wilt said. “The Cup game is more likely to be a big deal for the fan base of the lower-seeded clubs, and those teams are less able to afford the travel.”

The travel experience to El Paso turned out to be particularly difficult in the previous round, because players were booked on three separate flights with three different arrival times. The Flamingos nonetheless prevailed with patient, counter-attacking tactics for a three-goal win that looked more one-sided on the scoreboard than on the field.

With that victory, Madison won the $25,000 prize that goes to the club from each lower division that advances farthest in the tournament. The players already have bonuses built into their contracts for Cup victories. They’ll likely get more now, although their coach has a very Madisonian idea about what to do with the $25K.

“That money can buy a lot of plastic flamingos,” Shore said.

 

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U.S. Open Cup May 22, 2019
US Soccer

NCFC's Sarachan & the Cup's Ups & Downs

Last December, Dave Sarachan was about to be presented as head coach of North Carolina FC when someone noticed the backdrop included a banner showing his former team, the LA Galaxy, being upset in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“They asked me if they should take it down,” Sarachan recalled recently. “I said, ‘No, keep it up. It’s a good reminder’.”


(Sarachan took over at NCFC at the start of the current season)

Sarachan knows the ups and downs of the U.S. Open Cup, having hoisted the trophy as a champion with the Chicago Fire in 2003 and ’06, as well as having been an upset victim. In fact, the Carolina RailHawks, forerunners to today’s NCFC, took down the Galaxy three times while Sarachan was an assistant to Bruce Arena – including a year in which the Galaxy were champions of Major League Soccer.

“They made us travel to Raleigh to play three times,” Sarachan recalled. “They were a bogey team for us. We couldn’t get over the hump.” 

Back in the Open Cup
Now, after a 22-year stint that included stops throughout MLS and the U.S. Men’s National Team, Sarachan is coaching North Carolina FC in the USL Championship (the cdountry’s professional second division league) and preparing for an Open Cup contest against lively amateur side Florida Soccer Soldiers on Wednesday, May 29 at Koka Booth (Field 2) at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. (7 p.m. ET).

Sarachan made the subject of Cupsets part of preparations for North Carolina’s 4-1 Second Round win over the Richmond Kickers last week. “I said to my team, this is why the tournament is so great and we always root for them,” Sarachan said of the Cup’s underdogs. “Except when we play them.”


(Sarachan - 2nd from left - with past legends of Chicago Fire & D.C. United)

“The message when we played Richmond was you can’t assume anything, whether it’s the best in MLS or an amateur team you’re playing,” Sarachan went on. “You can lose any time if your mentality is not right on the field. And the message won’t change [for the Soccer Soldiers] – they’ve beaten two good opponents on the road. They’re playing with house money. They have some high school guys, some semipro guys, they’re well-coached and they have some ability.”

Sarachan experienced immediate success as a coach in the Open Cup. In his first season as Fire head coach, the team swept to the Open Cup title, taking a 1-0 win over the then-NY/NJ MetroStars at Giants Stadium on Oct. 15, 2003.

“I met with the leaders of the team – Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin – all the senior guys, and they all wanted to win the Open Cup,” Sarachan said. “Their philosophy aligned with mine. We wanted to win the MLS Cup but any time you have a chance to win a trophy you have to put everything into that. The mentality was excellent during those runs. Everything is compounded, with regular-season MLS scheduling, crazy travel. So, it’s MLS on weekend, Open Cup midweek, juggling lineups and figuring out how not to compromise – it’s challenging.”

The Fire’s history with the Open Cup dates to the team’s first season, when they won the MLS Cup/U.S. Open Cup double. Chicago also captured the 2000 Open Cup. “First of all they appreciated the tournament and what the Open Cup really means,” Sarachan said. “A number of guys had played in it and by winning the trophy in a [tournament] that included way more than MLS teams, that meant a lot.”

Chicago ‘03 Dream Team
“So there was a lot on the line other than the soccer,” Sarachan recalled of the ’03 final. “It was a terrific, a really good game, despite being later in the year, and guys were weary. It wasn’t easy to play the Final there, it was on turf and a little cold, and that made it tricky. We had an experienced group of guys and each man was really competitive – Carlos Bocanegra, DaMarcus Beasley, Ante Razov, Evan Whitfield. Damani Ralph scored the goal and we just played well and got the clean sheet. Chris Armas was the best leader I’ve ever managed.

“At the ceremony, [former U.S. Soccer president] Sunil Gulati gave us the medals and it was a precursor to the MLS Cup final,” added Sarachan. “We didn’t win that but we did get the Supporters Shield.”

The meaning of the Open Cup to the Fire players hit home again with Sarachan after the season. “We had a banquet to kick off 2004, and word was that we were not getting Open Cup rings,” Sarachan said. “Chris Armas was our captain, and he went crazy. He said: ‘Wait a minute, what are you talking about?’ He made sure ownership knew why we did it.”


(The 2003 Chicago Fire with the old Dewar Cup trophy - brought back out of retirement that year)

The Fire lost the ’04 Final, 1-0, to the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) as Igor Simuntenkov scored a 95th-minute golden goal at Arrowhead Stadium.

Two years later, the Fire returned to the Final, this time taking a 3-1 victory over the Galaxy in Bridgeview, Ill., on Sept. 27, 2006. “Armas had been suspended, he got a second yellow against D.C., for nothing,” Sarachan recalls. “He was crying because that meant he would miss the final.”

But the Fire started strong, Nate Jaqua (10th minute) and Andy Herron (16th) opened the scoring. The Galaxy’s Alan Gordon cut the deficit in the 51st minute and Thiago rounded out the scoresheet via a Tony Sanneh assist in the 88th minute.

“There’s always a guy or two that emerges, for whatever reason, in the tournament,” Sarachan said. “In ’03 we had Dipsy Selolwane. Then, we had Andy Herron, and in year two he was on fire.”


(Sarachan in his days at LA Galaxy, where MLS Cups were plentiful but not Open Cups)

But that would be it for Sarachan’s career as a head coach in the U.S. Open Cup. He had compiled a 14-2-1 record in the century-old tournament, but was dismissed by the Fire with the team in fifth place in the Eastern Conference in June of 2007.

Sarachan went to the Galaxy in 2008 and a rapid rebuilding project resulted in MLS Cup titles in 2011, ’12 and ’14, but Open Cup success has eluded Sarachan since ’06.

No Cup Luck in LA
In 2012, the Galaxy were in the midst of capturing successive MLS Cups when they visited the RailHawks for a Third-Round game in Cary, N.C. And the Galaxy took the lead on Pat Noonan’s 38th-minute goal. But Tiyi Shipalane equalized (75th) and Brian Shriver decided the match, heading home a Shipalane cross in the 88th minute.

The next year, current North Carolina captain Austin da Luz and Shriver converted in a 2-0 win over the Galaxy in another Third-Round match.


(Sarachan during his days in charge of the U.S. Men's National Team)

The teams met in the Fifth Round in 2014. The RailHawks blanked a forward line consisting of Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, then took the lead on Danny Jackson’s 105th-minute goal. The RailHawks went on to lose 5-2 to FC Dallas in the Quarterfinals and finish fifth in the NASL standings that year. The Galaxy, meanwhile, ended up second in MLS’ regular season and went on to lift MLS Cup for a fifth time.

“There are upsets every year – semipro teams win,” Sarachan said, looking back in order to look ahead at his latest tilt at the Open Cup. “And that’s the other thing. As a coach you try and explain to guys and they’re like ‘whatever, yeah …’ Until you get a bit of a scare.”

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