2018 U.S. Open Cup Final – Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union – Sept. 26
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Bhoys Fall; Pancyprians Prevail in Northeast
The biggest shocker out of the powerful Northeast Region saw New York Pancyprian Freedoms hammer their Cosmopolitan League mates Lansdowne Bhoys 4-0 in a one-sided affair. Games between the two teams, especially in recent qualifying, have been tight contests, but not this one as the three-time Open Cup champion (1979, 1980 & 1982) Freedoms took over the match early and got their goals from Adam Himeno, former New York Red Bull Michael Palacio, Gerrasimos Magoulas and Andreas Losifidis.
“It’s good to get revenge you know,” said Freedoms’ midfielder Himeno after knocking off the Bhoys, who reached the Open Cup proper in the competition’s 2018 edition before losing out to USL’s North Carolina FC. “We started the season pretty well, it’s a good start—three games, three wins—it’s also good to beat our rivals.”
(NY Pancyprian Freedoms celebrate one of their four goals against Lansdowne Bhoys)
Elsewhere in the Northeast, GPS Omens of Massachusetts’s Bay State Soccer League needed only 10 men to get the better of league mates Southie FC in a game that went to extra-time in Roxbury. Kendall Wanderers, also of the BSSL, required penalties after letting a 2-0 lead slip away in extra-time (2-2). In the end, the Cambridge-based outfit kept their cool to beat Boston Siege for the second year running at this stage. Veteran Declan Hunter netted the winner, a nice bit of redemption for the man who missed from the spot as the Wanderers went out of their debut Open Cup appearance (2018) against Seacoast United Phantoms earlier this year.
Also in Massachusetts, State Champions Safira FC had no trouble against Mass United, winning 3-1 in Somerville. And the last of the competitors from the Commonwealth, Boston City FC II, edged Juve Pro Soccer 1-0 in an ill-tempered game that saw four red cards (three for the losers and one for the winners).
Jackson Lions out of New Jersey needed extra-time to beat Newtown Pride, the only Connecticut team in 2019 qualifying, while West Chester Predators edged Vereinigung Erzgebirge in regulation. Finally, to close out action in the Northeast Region, four-time Open Cup champions Ukrainian Nationals of Pennsylvania put two unanswered goals past United German Hungarians (2-0) in a bid to reach the Open Cup proper for the first time since 2015.
Christos Spark Mid-Atlantic
There was no big shocker when 2017 Open Cup Cinderellas Christos FC, who surged to the Fourth Round that year and briefly led against MLS pros D.C. United, hammered Rockville Soccer Club 4-1. Pete Caringi III, former all-star at University of Maryland Baltimore County and now assistant coach there, scored all four of the goals in an impressive display that will have fans of the amateur darlings dreaming of another deep run.
Izee Auto who like Christos, play in the Maryland Major Soccer League, came up short against World Class Premier Elite FC, losing 4-2 in a game that swung back and forth for the full 90 minutes. And in the third of the all-Maryland clashes this weekend, Aegean Hawks bested Steel Pulse FC 2-1 to move on.
(Player-Coach Phil Keane addresses his Kendall Wanderers at the half in Cambridge, MA)
In an all-Virginia contest on Saturday, Cville Alliance FC beat Tigres FC 3-1 in a game that was never in doubt. The other meeting between two Virginia sides saw Virginia United move past Centro America FC 2-1 in Manassas. Mid-Atlantic action finished up with DC Cheddar, the lone side from the District of Columbia, losing out to an impressive Super Delegates FC of Maryland 3-1.
Florida Sunshine in the Southeast
Of the ten teams in action in the Southeast Region, eight of them hail from the state of Florida. Red Force FC, aiming for yet another berth in the Open Cup proper, took a step closer with a 2-1 win over league mates and oft-faced rivals FC Kendall. Sporting Orlando SC beat Deportivo Lake Mary by the same score and Florida Soccer Soldiers marched on to make it a hat-trick of 2-1 results, winning by that popular scoreline against Miami Sun FC. Rounding out the action in the Sunshine State was America Soccer Club’s 1-0 win over Orlando FC Wolves at Winter Garden’s West Orange High School
The one Southeast region game not contested by Floridians was played at CIU University in Columbia South Carolina, where hosts Soda City FC were fizzy throughout their 5-1 win over an outmatched FC Cardinals.
Rayados, FC Denver Do Just Enough in Central & Mountain
Dallas-based NTX Rayados are one step closer to qualifying for an eighth straight U.S. Open Cup after a wild game against Dallas Elite FC. After finishing 2-2 through 90 minutes, both teams tacked on two apiece in the 30 minutes of extra-time to finish 4-4 and needed a penalty shootout to settle matters. The Rayados edged it on the road in Plano, Texas after Elite collapsed from the spot, missing four of their five attempts.
The other games out of the Lone Star State, between Bay Area Oiler FC-Leon FC and Celtic Cowboys-San Antonio Runners, were both postponed due to heavy rain in the area. They will be rescheduled soon.
(Harpos of Boulder, Colo pose for a photo after winning their qualifier)
Outside Texas, Motagua New Orleans beat lone Mississippi representative Port City FC after extra-time. The game finished 2-2 through 90 minutes, but Motagua came to life in the extra 30, scoring three more to see the final score finish at a lopsided 5-2. The last game in the Central Region was never in doubt of postponement due to bad weather as Livonia FC beat Ann Arbor FC 4-3 a.e.t. in an indoor facility.
The Mountain Region teams all played on Sunday with Colorado Rovers edging Club El Azul 1-0 in Broomfield, while Gam United beat Northern Colorado FC 2-1. FC Denver and Harpos, both involved in recent instalments of the Open Cup proper, had to travel to get their wins. Harpos, out of Boulder, needed extra-time to beat Colorado Rush 2-1 and FC Denver just slipped past familiar foes Indios Denver 1-0 in the capital.
Winds, Jasa Let Loose in SoCal & West
There were 13 goals scored in the three games played out in the West Region, where Jasa RWC of California laid on the most lopsided result of the weekend with a 7-0 thrashing of San Ramon Dynamos in an all-UPSL affair. The other two results in the West saw Academica SC beat Davis Legacy Soccer Club 4-1, Ramiro Ceja scoring twice, and Oakland Stompers just shading Oakland FC Leopards 1-0. The lone goal came ten minutes from time through PJ Garcia.
Southern California was well represented in the first round of 2019 Open Cup qualifying. And Santa Ana Winds are looking to blow into their second straight Finals with a 4-0 smack down of familiar foes LA Wolves – once coached by Eric Wynalda. Jordan Gorman, the Winds’ powerful striker, bagged a hat-trick in the game.
(NTX Rayados needed extra-time and PKs to reach the second round of qualifying)
Torey Edwards scored a goal and had an assist as Outbreak FC, a two-time U.S. Open Cup qualifier, topped L.A. South Bay Monsters FC 2-1 at Lake Forest Sports Park. Two other games took place at the sprawling Lake Forest complex, with Lionside FC beating SC Trojans 2-0 thanks to a brace from Kevin Geddes. Then California United FC II sank their teeth into CaliGators FC 6-2, Gustavo Villalobos with the hat-trick for the winning side.
The SoCal scene finished up with Cal FC – famous for their deep run in the 2012 Open Cup and currently coached by TV pundit Keith Costigan – beating USASA National Championship Semifinalists San Nicolas FC 3-1. Buena Park FC routed Valley United SC 4-0 thanks to goals from Nate Da Rosa (2), Josh Sonico and Eric Young, while the action closed out with Real Sociedad Royals moving past Quickening by the same 4-0 scoreline at John Bosco High School.
All the first qualifying round winners now move on to the second round, which will be played the weekend of Oct. 20-21. Already scheduled to lock horns in that round are several sides who earned byes through the opening weekend: Rochester River Dogz (NY) – Tartan Devils Oak Avalon (Pa), Boise Cutthroats (Idaho) – San Juan FC (Utah), Sporting AZ FC (Ariz) – Southwest FC (Texas) and IPS/Marathon Taverna (Ore) – Nevada Coyotes (Nev). The full slate of second qualifying round match-ups will be published soon, following a draw at Soccer House in Chicago, U.S. Soccer’s headquarters.