At the end of a training session during the U-20 MNT’s pre-Concacaf U-20 Championship camp in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., goalkeeper Brady Scott lined up 20 balls at the top of the six-yard box. He asked a teammate to be a target in the midfield circle.
Taking a few steps run-up each time, Brady hit ten with his right foot, and then ten with his left. His teammate barely had to moved to trap each long ball.
“I was first stuck in the net when I was in U-9,” Brady explained. “We had no goalkeeper and everyone was kind of scared of playing goalkeeper, so I stepped up. And I played half the time on the field and half the time in goal until U-13, and that’s when I started specializing as just a goalkeeper. So that was a huge part of me developing my feet, playing on the field half of the time.”
It’s hard to imagion that he’s only been playing goalkeeper full-time for six years, especially when considering how far that move has taken him since.
It didn’t take long for coaches to realize Brady’s potential in net. He was already excelling at goalkeeper while at Development Academy side Marin FC in Northern California, and as he grew so did his hunger to continue improving after switching to De Anza Force Development Academy in Santa Clara.
“De Anza was a very good platform for me to develop,” Scotts said. “I was taken in by coach Shaun Tsakiris, and he really gave me the confidence to play out of the back and be more tactical and be more effective on the field. Playing Academy games every weekend, it was a great platform to develop and become a better soccer player.”
Youth National Team scouts first brought him in to a National Talent ID Center as a U-15, and he’s continued impressing since. And the last year and half has been a whirlwind.
With an offer to play at the University of Virginia, Scott, who had previously trained with youth clubs in England and the Netherlands, was invited to tryout by German Bundesliga club FC Koln in the spring of 2017. He practiced with the reserves for a few days and then played with them in a friendly match. The club saw enough and shortly after made him an offer.
But first, he was called into the U-20 MNT ahead of the 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship in Costa Rica. While only two goalkeepers made that roster, he had shown coach Tab Ramos enough and was then added as the third goalkeeper for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic.
U-20 MNT GK Brady Scott in warm-ups ahead of the USA's second group game at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship.
“I was honored to be part of that group,” Brady says of his U-20 World Cup experience, where he backed up Jonathan Klinsmann and JT Marcinkowski. “Participating in a World Cup was amazing, being in all the stadium and seeing what the atmospheres like and how quick – the speed of play is at a World Cup – it was something that I’d never seen before. That was really eye opening.”
Not long after the World Cup he officially joined FC Köln (referred to as FC Cologne in English), becoming the latest American youth international to join a club in Germany.
“My first year at FC Koln has been fantastic,” he said, his team now in the Bundesliga II. “(“I am”) really adjusting to the speed of play and what it’s like to play in Germany. It’s not necessarily that the players are so much more technical, it’s that everyone thinks so much faster and you have to be on your toes.”
While mostly playing games with the reserve team, which plays in the fourth division, Regionalliga, he trains regularly with the club’s first team.
“For me to be in there every single day, training with guys like Jonus Hector and first teamer Timo Horn…it’s been really great for me to not only hear it from a coach, but hear from an actual, starting Bundesliga goalkeeper,” he said. “Doing a drill with him, seeing what he does, and trying to implement that – it’s been a real positive experience and it’s been very positive for my development.”
A year and a half ago he was in school playing in the Development Academy, deciding between UVA or turning pro, and gaining international experience at a World Cup. Now he’s counted on as a leader of the U-20 MNT looking to defend its Concacaf title and qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup.“It’s gone by really fast,” he admits. “I feel like just a couple months ago I was just a high school student playing Academy, but as I sit here now I try to use all of the experiences that I’ve had – everything that I’ve seen, all the trainings and games I’ve played in – and just try to lead by example and help lead this team to winning it all.”
LONDON (Nov. 14, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team continues its fall Kickoff Series with a high-profile match against fifth-ranked England in London on Thursday, Nov. 15.
U.S. MNT DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 59/0), 12-Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0), 22-Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha Berlin/GER; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9): 6-John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 35/3), 25-Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 1/0),
5-Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; 6/0), 26-Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), 3-Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 10/1),18-Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu/ESP; 3/0), 19-Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers; 19/0), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 56/0), 21-Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 3/1)
MIDFIELDERS (12): 23-Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 21/2), 4-Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 7/1), 24-Luca de la Torre (Fulham/ENG; 1/0), 9-Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 5/0), 27-Romain Gall (Malmö/SWE; 0/0), 16-Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 14/4), 14-Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 3/1), 8-Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 6/1), 10-Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 21/9), 15-Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 3/0), 20-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 9/0), 11-Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 7/1)
FORWARDS (2): 13-Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 5/2), 7-Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 43/13)
CONSISTENT APPROACH AND THE BIG 5-0
MNT head coach Dave Sarachan began 2018 by saying this would be a year of opportunity and experience for players and with the final matches approaching he has lived up to that promise. A total of 50 players have earned at least one cap in the nine matches so far, including 19 first-timers – a figure that is just two off the mark for MNT debuts in a calendar year. Remarkably, 34 of those players have accumulated 10 caps or less. Along the way, a total of 12 players have appeared in five or more matches. Balancing giving players experience with a difficult schedule, the MNT has still posted a more than respectable 3-3-3 record, including a draw against eventual World Cup champion France and a win against regional rival Mexico.
CLOSING OUT IN STYLE
What better way to close a year of fantastic experiences than a visit to the birthplace of football and then take on one of the world’s storied national teams. The U.S. gets its third invitation to famed Wembley Stadium, where it will face England for the first time since the 1-1 draw in the opening match of Group C at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Gareth Southgate’s side were one of the darlings of this summer’s tournament in Russia, reaching the Semifinal before falling in heartbreaking fashion to Croatia in extra time.
SPECIAL MOMENT FOR ENGLISH-BORN CAMERON CARTER-VICKERS
Born in Southend-on-Sea, England and a product of the Tottenham Hotspur Academy, Cameron Carter-Vickers has spent almost his entire life in England. Still, the center back represents the United States by virtue of being the son of former collegiate basketball star Howard Carter who shined with Louisiana State University in the early 1980s. Prior to Thursday’s match against England, Carter-Vickers discussed how special it would be to represent the United States against the Three Lions with fellow English-born, U.S. international Antonee Robinson, who will unfortunately have to miss the match after suffering an ankle sprain on Tuesday.
YOUNG MIDFIELD TRIO FINALLY IN CAMP TOGETHER
While the U.S. Men’s National Team’s next generation has taken its opportunities to grow together during the past year, one combination fans still haven’t seen is the potential midfield partnership of 20-year-olds Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie and 19-year-old Tyler Adams. Having spent plenty of time together with U.S. Youth National Teams, differing circumstances throughout the last year have kept the trio from getting into the same camp together until now.
WAYNE ROONEY SENDOFF
Thursday’s match will also serve as a “send-off” international for England legend Wayne Rooney. The all-time leading goal scorer for the Three Lions, Rooney’s signing was the catalyst behind D.C. United turnaround this season, registering 12 goals and seven assist in 20 matches while taking the club from near bottom of the Eastern Conference into the MLS Cup Playoffs. The former Manchester United and Everton player recorded 53 goals in 119 international appearances, representing England at six major tournaments – the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups and the 2004, 2012 and 2016 European Championships.
With the 2022 cycle officially underway, the process of elevating a rising crop of internationals is already in motion. Since November of last year, a total of 18 players have debuted for the senior MNT. Seventeen of them came in under 24 years old at the time of their first caps, while 10 will be age-eligible to represent the U-23 MNT in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament and 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. ussoccer.com has profiled 11 of these hopefuls at the start of the new video series RISING: Emerging Faces of the U.S. Men’s National Team, which chronicle the route of players on their quest to become a part of the National Team by going behind the scenes with family, youth, coaches, teammates and professional club managers from across the world. [WATCH SERIES]
- The teams have met 10 times, with the USA trailing the all-time series 2-7-1.
- The USA pulled one of the biggest upsets in FIFA World Cup history when the team used a goal from Joe Gaetjens to defeat England 1-0 during the group stage of the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
- The last meeting with England also came at the FIFA World Cup. Steven Gerrard and Clint Dempsey traded goals as the teams played to a 1-1 draw during the 2010 tournament in Rustenberg, South Africa.
- The USA’s other win in the series came thanks to goals from Thomas Dooley and Alexi Lalas as the MNT defeated England 2-0 on June 9, 1993 in Foxborough, Mass.
- England has hosted the MNT at Wembley Stadium twice before. On Sept. 7, 1994, the USA fell 2-0 to the Three Lions in its first match following that year’s FIFA World Cup. The MNT returned to London 14 years later, again falling 2-0 to England on May 28, 2008.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- As of Nov. 15, 2018, the roster carries an average age of 23 years, 187 days, while 16 players are 23 years and under.
- Nine players are age-eligible for the 2020 Summer Olympics: Tyler Adams, Reggie Cannon, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luca de la Torre, Jonathan Klinsmann, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah.
- Brad Guzan (59 caps), DeAndre Yedlin (56) and Bobby Wood (43) are the senior-most players on the roster.
- The 26 players on the roster ply their trade in nine different countries: USA (9), Germany (7), Belgium, England and France (2 each); Canada, Spain, Sweden and Wales (1 each)
- Four players are with teams currently involved in the MLS Cup Playoffs: Tyler Adams and Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls); Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC) and Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers).
- After missing out on October’s matches due to injury, the duo of Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie returns for the team’s year-end friendlies.
- Christian Pulisic will make his second appearance of 2018 in an MNT camp, having played in the 3-0 win against Bolivia on May 28 in Chester, Pa.
- Midfielder Romain Gall and goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann are in the midst of their first MNT camps.
- Gall, 23, has recorded 14 goals in 31 matches across all competitions for Swedish sides Sundsvall and his current club, Malmö in 2018.
- Klinsmann has appeared in nine matches, keeping four clean sheets for Hertha Berlin II this season.
- Thursday’s match against England at historic Wembley Stadium will be a special moment for Cameron Carter-Vickers. The English-born defender grew up in Southend-on-Sea and developed with Tottenham Hotspur before going out on loan to Swansea City of the English League Championship.
- Two more players on the roster are based in the English league system, with DeAndre Yedlin currently lining up for Newcastle United, while Luca de la Torre is part of the Fulham setup.
- Christian Pulisic also lived in England for a year, when his mother was granted a Fulbright scholarship for a teaching exchange near Oxford. The young Pulisic turned out for Brackley Town, an experience that is said to have set up his love for the game.
- Goalkeeper Brad Guzan had a 10-year stay in England, featuring for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.
- Midfielder Sebastian Lletget began his career with West Ham United, where he played in the club’s development setup from 2009-2015.
- Fifteen players have represented the U.S. at a Youth World Cup: Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luca de la Torre, Marky Delgado, Ethan Horvath, Jonathan Klinsmann, Matt Miazga, Shaq Moore, Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Wil Trapp, Jorge Villafaña and DeAndre Yedlin.
ENGLAND ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham; 0/0), Jack Butland (Stoke City; 9/0), Alex McCarthy (Southampton; 0/0), Jordan Pickford (Everton; 13/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool; 4/0), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City; 3/0), Lewis Dunk (Brighton; 0/0), Joe Gomez (Liverpool; 5/0), Michael Keane (Everton; 4/0), Luke Shaw (Manchester United; 8/0), John Stones (Manchester City; 36/2), Kyle Walker (Manchester City; 43/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Ross Barkley (Chelsea; 24/2), Dele Ali (Tottenham Hotspur; 31/3), Fabian Delph (Manchester City; 16/0), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur; 36/3), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool; 47/0), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United; 20/2), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea; 9/0), Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur; 2/0)
FORWARDS (6): Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur; 34/19), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United; 29/6), Wayne Rooney (D.C. United; 119/53)*, Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 1/0), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City; 46/4), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth; 0/0)
- England currently sits fifth in the FIFA World Rankings, behind only Belgium, France, Brazil and Croatia.
- Thirteen players on the England roster were part of the Three Lions’ run to the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
- The roster features Harry Kane, who scored six goals to win the Golden Boot in Russia last summer.
- The match will serve as a warm-up for England’s final UEFA Nations League clash, which will come against Croatia on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.
- The game will also serve as a send-off international for current D.C. United striker and England legend Wayne Rooney
- With 53 goals, Rooney is England’s all-time leading goal scorer. Set to earn his 120th cap, Rooney will finish his international career second on England’s appearance list behind only goalkeeper Peter Shilton (125 caps).
At different points throughout their young careers, midfielders Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic would find themselves together at Youth National Team camps, playing with and against each other as they began to carve out the individual paths that lay ahead.
While all three were promising prospects, it was Pulisic who rose to acclaim first, making his debuts with Borussia Dortmund and the U.S. Men’s National Team as a 17-year-old in 2016. Having grabbed attention with their respective clubs New York Red Bulls and Schalke, Adams and McKennie followed suit, arriving on the MNT scene this time last year during the team’s 1-1 draw against Portugal.
All three are now firmly in the senior team picture, but due to a variety of circumstances this week’s camp in England is the first time the trio is together in camp with the MNT. With that, the much-anticipated prospect of seeing all three on the field at the same time is a possibility for the matches ahead against England and Italy.
- WATCH - RISING: Tyler Adams
It’s something the players themselves are eager for as well.
“I think it’ll be interesting,” 20-year-old McKennie told ussoccer.com this week. “You can have all the hype, but to have the moment where we could possibly play together finally here, that’s exciting for me. I think it’s exciting for all of us.”
“It’s going to feel like picking up where we left off,” Pulisic, also 20, said. “I’m really excited to work with them at the senior level.”
“It’s a pretty special moment,” the 19-year-old Adams added. “I look at it as more of an opportunity because when you have such good friends off the field, it can correlate to playing well on the field.”
Most familiar with each other from their time spent at U.S. Soccer’s U-17 MNT Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., the three say similar things when talking about each other’s traits.
When speaking about Pulisic, Adams and McKennie can’t go far without dropping some form of the words “Creative, clinical and confident.”
- WATCH - RISING: Weston McKennie
Pulisic returns that praise by calling Adams and McKennie, “Two of the grittiest players I’ve ever seen.”
The way they see each other’s qualities seems likely to translate to how they could line up with the MNT: Pulisic as the creative attacking force, with Adams and McKennie grinding, winning balls and connecting in behind him.
Still, it’s been a few years since they played together, and with that there’s an admission that there may be a learning curve.
- WATCH - RISING: Christian Pulisic
“I don’t know what it’s going to look like,” McKennie said, “but that’s what these games are about. Hopefully it looks good and helps out the team a lot if we happen to be on the same field at the same time.”
“We’ve all gone on to do our own things and it’s worked out well in respective ways,” added Adams. “I think a lot of the traits that we have will be able to complement each other well. Now it’s about learning the tactics and seeing how we all fit into it. In the end, you have people you want to play with, people you like being around and I think it will help us progress forward with a lot of the young guys we have around us as well.”Read more
COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO, Uruguay (Nov. 14, 2018) – The USA opened its 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup campaign with a solid 3-0 win against a physical Cameroon team in the first Group C match for both teams. In a rollicking contest that featured numerous memorable moments, midfielder Mia Fishel opened the scoring and forward Sunshine Fontes added two more goals while goalkeeper Angelina Anderson was stellar.
The U.S. defense kept a clean sheet – defender Mckenna Morris cleared back-to-back shots out of the goal mouth in the first half – against a Cameroon side that finished the game with nine players after having its goalkeeper and a defender sent off.
A wild first half saw end-to-end play, but the USA had trouble getting forward against a physical Cameroon defense. The U.S. did threaten on set pieces, which proved to be their avenue to the opening goal.
In the aftermath of a 22nd minute set-piece, Cameroon cleared the ball up the field, but a Cameroon player was injured and stayed down near the top of the penalty box. While the Africans lobbied the referee, the USA kept playing, and defender Natalia Staude played short pass to Fishel up the middle. Fishel would have been offside had it not been for the prone Cameroonian defender, but she played the whistle, and raced in on goal. Fishel’s first shot was saved by the goalkeeper, who pushed it squarely of the post. The rebound bounced right back to Fishel and she finished her second chance with composure, pounding her own rebound into the net to make it 1-0.
The goal spurred Cameroon to attack in greater numbers, but the U.S. defense held strong, highlighted by strong play from center backs Staude and Michela Agresti, as well as the goal-saving clearances from Morris.
Tensions continued to rise late in the first half as rough tackles resulted in two yellow cards for Cameroon. The increasingly physical play culminated in a straight red card being shown to Cameroon’s goalkeeper Christemilie Onomo, who flew in the air to cleat midfielder Maya Doms directly in the midsection as she chased a bouncing ball at the top of the penalty box. Referee Casey Reibelt brandished the red card and the USA was fortunate that she also ruled the foul had taken place inside the penalty area. Fontes stepped up and sent the spot kick home to double the U.S advantage to 2-0 just before the half.
While Cameroon created several dangerous chances in the second half, the U.S. defense continued to make nice stops and Anderson made stellar saves in the 69th and 73rd minutes, first tipping a long-range effort over the bar and then parrying away a well-struck shot at the right post.
Fontes clinched the match in the 81st minute with a spectacular 32-yard chip shot that caught substitute goalkeeper Olga Ngo Esse far off her line and billowed the back of the net in the air.
Next up, Group C continues as the USA takes on reigning U-17 Women’s World Cup champion Korea DPR in Colonia on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 12 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast on FS2 and Universo as well as streamed on TelemundoDeportes.com and the Telemundo Deportes App.
Goal Scoring Rundown
USA – Mia Fishel (Natalia Staude), 22nd minute
After a dangerous ball was played into the penalty box by Sunshine Fontes on a corner kick from the left side, Cameroon cleared it away. As they tried to clear the ball further upfield, a Cameroon player collided in the air with an American and fell to the ground. As Cameroon looked for a whistle from the referee, Natalia Staude played it up the middle to Fishel who found herself against the Cameroon goalkeeper one-on-one. Onomo deflected her first attempt and it hit off the right post before landing back at Fishel’s feet and she buried the follow-up shot into the lower left corner. USA 1, CMR 0
USA – Sunshine Fontes (Penalty Kick), 45+5
Mia Fishel stole a Cameroon pass in midfield and lofted the ball forward to Maya Doms, who was making a run behind the defense. She went up for the 50/50 ball at the edge of the penalty area and Cameroon goalkeeper, who missed her clearance attempt, instead cleated Doms in the midsection. The referee showed Onomo a red card for the challenge and conferred with her Assistant Referee before pointing to the penalty spot. It took the referee a few minutes to sort out the call and by the time Fontes cooly dispatched the spot kick, beating substitute ‘keeper Olga Ngo Esse, it was in the fifth minute of first half stoppage time. USA 2, CMR 0
USA – Sunshine Fontes (Trinity Rodman), 81st minute
The U.S. repelled a Cameroon attack and transitioned up field quickly. Substitute forward Trinity Rodman collected a pass out of the back, carried the ball through midfield and played a leading pass for Fontes to chase into the Cameroon half. After running onto the ball, Fontes spotted Ngo Esse off her line and lifted a beautiful shot over the ‘keeper from 32 yards out that nestled into the back of the net for the final margin. USA 3, CMR 0. FINAL
- The two goals for Sunshine Fontes, the first player from Hawaii to make a Youth Women’s World Cup roster, upped her U.S. YNT career record for U-17 WNT goals to 24 and gave her 22 for the year. She is this cycle’s most-capped player with 30 U-17 international games under her belt.
- The only female U.S. Youth National Team player to score more goals in a calendar year was Kelly Wilson in 2002 when she scored 23 on the way to helping lead the USA to the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup title. Lindsay Tarpley scored 21 international goals that year.
- Mia Fishel’s goal was the sixth international score of her U-17 career in her 27th cap.
- The match marked the first Women’s World Cup match for all of the U.S. players except for forward Jordan Canniff who played in one match at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan two years ago.
- Canniff made an inspirational comeback from an ACL injury suffered in the spring to make this roster and get the start today.
- U.S. head coach Mark Carr made all three of his allowed substitutes. He sent on forwards Trinity Rodman for Jordan Canniff in the 60th and Isabella D’Aquila for Sunshine Fontes in the 82nd. Midfielder Hannah Bebar replaced Maya Doms in the 74th.
- The victory marked just the second time the USA has won its opening match at the U-17 Women’s World Cup. The USA lost its opening match to Japan (3-2) in 2008 in New Zealand, but advanced to the championship game where it fell in overtime to North Korea. In 2012 in Azerbaijan, the USA drew its opening game 0-0 with eventual champion France. In 2016 in Jordan, the USA defeated Paraguay, 6-1, but then fell to Ghana and eventual runner-up Japan.
The third round of local amateur qualifying for the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup takes center stage this weekend with 13 games on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 17-18) from Massachusetts to Southern California. In action are familiar names like Christos FC, the top men’s league team out of the Mid-Atlantic region, NY’s Pancyprian Freedoms, who claimed the Open Cup title three times in the old semi-pro days of the late 1970s and 80s, and Cal FC, of Ventura County, who shocked the tournament as recently as 2012 when they beat Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer (MLS).
- READ MORE: #USOC2019 2nd Round Qualifying Review
- VIDEO: Houston Dynamo Make History with first USOC crown
Scorchers set for Mass & NY
As winter begins to close its fist around the Northeast, two tantalizing contests out of New York and Massachusetts look likely to raise the temperature a few degrees. GPS Omens are powers in the Bay State Soccer League – the top amateur league in and around Boston, MA – and recently claimed their third straight BSSL title (winning nine league games in a row this fall) ahead of a clash with Safira FC, the state’s ultra-talented reigning amateur champions based in Lowell.
Omens missed out on last year’s Open Cup proper, but they played all the way to the Third Round in 2017 when 1999 champions Rochester Rhinos edged them to a Fourth Round date with MLS side New England Revolution. Loaded with talent like Keith Caldwell, brother of the Revolution’s Scott, Pat Murray and Harris Smriko, GPS will have their work cut out against a fully loaded Safira taking aim at their first-ever berth in a U.S. Open Cup. The red-clad State Champs like to keep the ball, move it around, and can break out like lightning on the flanks with veteran local star Junior Alencar.
“Coming on the heels of our third straight league title, we’re thrilled to be competing again in the Open Cup,” GPS Omens captain Greg Zuboff told ussoccer.com. “It’s a chance to play quality sides outside our own league and Safira is just that – We enjoy the heightened energy that comes with Cup play and we’re expecting a competitive match.”
(Reigning Mass State Champions Safira FC - photo by Burt Granofsky)
Just down I-95 in Jamaica, Queens, the NY Pancyprian Freedoms of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League (CSL) take on Pennsylvania-based visitors West Chester Predators, who were pipped to an automatic berth in the 2019 Open Cup after losing the National Amateur Cup final to the Milwaukee Bavarians. The Freedoms are previous heroes of the Open Cup, having won the tournament three times (1979, 1980 & 1982), when it was largely amateur and semipro in its make-up. While their past is outstanding, their present isn’t bad either – the Freedoms beat 2017 Amateur National champions Lansdowne Bhoys en route to the third qualifying round and are eager for a return to the competition’s final field. The Predators, for their part, have proven no pushover with a big win over Philadelphia’s Ukrainian Nationals (3-0) to reach this stage.
“We know the [Pancyprian] Freedoms are a storied club and this will be our first meeting against them,” said West Chester Predators head coach and director of coaching Blaise Santangelo ahead of the two-and-a-half-hour bus trip to Queens. “We’re a younger team than they are but we’re hoping we can show them what we can do with that youth.”
Christos Favored in Mid-Atlantic
It’s hard to think of Baltimore County’s outstanding amateurs Christos FC without the mind turning back to 2017 when they beat USL pros Richmond Kickers and briefly led D.C. United of Major League Soccer in the Open Cup’s Fourth Round. The former Cinderellas boast many of the same players who orchestrated that dream run, like tireless midfielder Daniel Baxter, Cody Albrecht and Pete Caringi III, the former University of Maryland Baltimore County Retriever (and current assistant coach) who’s scored an astonishing eight goals in two games to reach this third stage of 2019 qualifying. On Sunday, the Maryland Major Soccer League leaders travel to Manassas to take on Virginia United, who’ve scored four goals and conceded just one en route to this stage in the competition.
“No Open Cup qualifier is easy,” said Caringi III, a former collegiate All-American and as dangerous an aerial threat as you’ll find in the U.S. amateur ranks. “We aren’t going to sneak up on anyone anymore, so we will have to earn everything we get on the field.”
(The moment Christos FC scored against DC United in the 2017 Fourth Round)
The other game in the region sees Rochester Lancers 2 – who took part in last year’s Open Cup as the Rochester River Dogz and are coached by former Open Cup winner and Rochester Rhino ‘Deadly’ Doug Miller – host World Class Premier Elite FC out of the Maryland Major Soccer League. While they might not boast the pedigree of their league mates Christos, WCPEFC are making a hard charge in qualifying this year.
Spicy Matchups in Southeast and Central Regions
Three of the four teams in action in the Southeast Region hail from the Sunshine State of Florida. America Soccer Club, having won a pair of tight one-goals affairs so far, host Soda City Sorinex FC in Winter Garden on Saturday. The men from South Carolina (Soda City) are riding a wave of impressive results (5-1 over FC Cardinals of North Carolina and 4-2 against Shahin Atlanta). On Sunday, Hurricane FC and Florida Soccer Soldiers meet in an all-Florida affair in Delray Beach.
Over in the Central Region, NTX Rayados – aiming for their eighth straight appearance in the Open Cup proper – travel to New Orleans to take on familiar opponents Motagua New Orleans. The Louisiana men had to be patient to make sure of their place in the third round, with multiple weather delays postponing their second-round contest with Celtic Cowboys (Motagua eventually won last weekend 3-2). They’ll be up against a tough opponent in the Rayados, who, despite being made up primarily of schoolteachers and local junior college standouts from in and around Dallas, are one of the most consistent and impressive amateur teams in the country. In the 2018 Open Cup, led by player-coach Tito Salas and Victor Pinal, they beat pros OKC Energy before losing to eventual champions Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer. [Since publishing, this game has been postponed to allow Motagua equal preparation time after several weather delays in the previous round. New date to be decided]
(Tito Salas - center - and NTX Rayados, who are aiming for an eighth straight USOC berth)
- VIDEO/FEATURE: NTX Rayados - Classrooms, Cups & the Fountain of Youth
The other game in the Central Region sees ambitious Livonia City – out of suburban Detroit – host Maritsa of Missouri, who edged FC Minnesota in a 4-3 thriller in the previous round.
FC Denver Stand Tall in Mountain Region
Formed via a Craigslist ad in 2005, FC Denver quickly became a power in the fast-growing amateur scene in Colorado. Led by founder Eric Fulton, the side beat local rivals Harpos in a shootout and Indios Denver (1-0) so far and will be bolstered by a handful of new talent to compliment the veterans in the side. They’ll need to muster all of their grit and talent this time however, up against Gam United Football Club who have been outstanding with a pair of wins over Northern Colorado FC and Colorado Rovers.
“We’re thrilled to be hosting this match of the final two Colorado teams left standing,” said Fulton, aware of snow in the forecast – fitting for the game’s venue across the street from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park where the U.S. and Costa Rica played the now-famous ‘Snow-classico’ in 2013. “GAM is a terrific team with some great player acquisitions this year. They’re predicting snow and we expect it to be an exciting day for Colorado soccer.”
(Kramer Runager - right - of Santa Ana Winds)
The other game in the zone sees Southwest FC of Texas welcome Utah’s San Juan FC in a match at Pebble Hills High School in El Paso between two teams that had contrasting results in the previous round. Southwest strolled to a 4-1 win over Sporting AZ FC and San Juan needed extra time to edge the Boise Cutthroats of Idaho 4-3.
California Dreams of Open Cup
North or South, the Golden State is a hub of some of the best amateur soccer the country has to offer – and three of the four teams in action in the West section of Open Cup third round qualifying are based in Cali. First up in the Bay Area, the Oakland Stompers will host Academica SC in a contest bound to be full of tension. Both sides have been impressive in their two previous contests to reach this point. On Sunday, up north in Portland, Oregon, the local side IPS/Marathon Taverna take on JASA RWC of Redwood City, California.
Farther south in the SoCal section, Santa Ana Winds – who reached the 2018 Open Cup proper for the first time thanks to the goals of Kramer Runager and Jordan Gorman – are at home against Buena Park FC at the Lake Forest Sports Park. And last but not least, Keith Costigan’s Cal FC – who set the 2012 Open Cup alight under the tutelage of then-coach Eric Wynalda – take on California United FC II in Thousand Oaks, a place that could use a good distraction, and something to cheer about, after troubling recent events.Read more