0

2016 Copa del Atlantico

Canary Islands, Spain
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US Soccer

Sand Pioneer: Nick Perera's Next Goal - Lift Beach Soccer

Nick Perera is bold about his ambitions. He wants to win. He wants to entertain. He wants to set scoring records. He wants to be the best.

But most importantly - he wants to raise the profile of the U.S. Beach Soccer National Team and the discipline itself.

At 6-3, he’s putting the sport and the team on his broad shoulders. Already the USA’s leading scorer in World Cup qualifying and with five goals in his lone FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup appearance in 2013, the team captain was recently re-elected to the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Athletes’ Council.

“I wanted to involve myself in the Athletes’ Council because I felt that we need to give this beautiful game what it deserves,” Perera said. “I think this game deserves to be at a national level, international level, on television – everything.”

This is the abridged story of how a Spanish-born, Belgium-raised American became a NCAA College Cup champion, the Most Valuable Player of the Major Arena Soccer League and an international beach soccer star.

“I’m an extremely arrogant guy,” he admits. “But when it comes to my soccer and my willingness to learn, I’m extremely humble.”

That happens when the path to your destination is not a straight line.

Nick Perera - U.S. Beach Soccer

Prudencio and Dione Perera met in Montpellier, France some 30 odd years ago. Dione was there on a college exchange program from her hometown of Los Angeles and Prudencio was finishing his doctorate from his much closer hometown of Madrid, Spain.

They started their family in Spain, where Nicolas was born. He was a little over a year old when they moved to Belgium after Prudencio got a job with the European Commission.

Nick was raised speaking both English and Spanish. Living in Belgium, he quickly also learned French and Dutch.

”My mom’s always had an affinity for languages, I think I picked that up from her,” he says of Dione, who is fluent in English, French and Spanish and worked as a simultaneous interpreter. “I’ve always enjoyed that- to be able to go to different places and be able to speak the language.”

He’s since become proficient in Italian and Portuguese, a result of his international travels and knack for learning.

Nick did not hit his growth spurt until his late teens. Like most kids who take to sports in Europe, he was drawn to soccer.

“It was always soccer,” he said. “My dad loved soccer. I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I played another sport other than soccer.”

The family would often travel to Los Angeles for the winter holidays and spend every summer in Spain. There, he and his friends would play futsal on a neighborhood court for hours almost every day. In the afternoons, it was off to the beach – where they also would bring a ball to kick around.

Nick was the outgoing, active kid, but his younger brother, Lucas, was on the other end of the spectrum. Lucas is non-verbal autistic and extremely low-functioning. He lacks a sense of safety or security and doesn’t recognize danger, so he requires constant care.

“Every decision we’ve ever made as a family has been based on Lucas’s condition,” Nick said. “The primary reason for our move to the U.S. was that health care in the U.S. for special needs children was superior to Europe.”

While Lucas’ interpersonal communications are not necessarily warm, the family’s love and support for each other is always visible.

“You could tell things based on what he was doing and his body language,” Nick said. “He’s tough to read in some areas, but easy in others. He sees us and he lights up in his own way, but it’s very different. It’s hard to explain but it’s something that shapes every decision in your life - the way you see the world.”

In 2004, the Pereras moved to southern California. Nick was 18.

For someone as enthusiastic about his studies as he was about soccer, college was the perfect introduction to life in the USA.

Nick was set to attend the University of California-Santa Barbara, though since he was unknown, an athletic scholarship was not offered. Instead, he tried out for the soccer team that summer.

“I was cut after one week, because I couldn’t keep up with the level of physical demand of college soccer,” he admits. “Every part of my body was destroyed within five days. I don’t even think we touched the ball for the first four or five days.”

It was an awakening of sorts. Nick ended up playing club soccer that year and improved so much that he was able to walk on to the UCSB team the following spring. The minutes were tough to come by but he was adapting and improving.

The next year, seemingly out of nowhere, the Gauchos of UCSB won the 2006 NCAA College Cup as Perera scored the opener in a 2-1 win over UCLA.

“It was amazing,” Nick recalls. “We were a team with a lot of players who kind of fell through the cracks, who had a lot of grit and determination. We were unseeded, unranked and we went on to win the whole thing.”

Nick was offered a contract by Major League Soccer to leave college early and enter the league’s SuperDraft.

“My parents shot that down immediately,” Nick said. His family’s advice was to finish school, and deep down he knew that was the right decision.

He graduated in 2009 as an English major and walked in the summer before his senior season, which allowed him to take lighter classes and focus on soccer.

“I just wanted to have a well-balanced experience,” he said. “But as the season started progressing, I was way more invested in the athletic side. I kind of saw that there was an avenue for myself and soccer was what I always really loved. I just didn’t think I would ever live off of it. So it was something where I was kind of doing well and started thinking, ‘Maybe I could play at the next level.’”

Nick Perera

“I wish I knew then what I know now… about soccer, professionalism, taking care of your body, because I think I could have had a good outdoor career had I known. I didn’t care about weights, or strength training… I just wanted to play.”

Nick was invited to the MLS College Combine, but admits that he did not make a noticeable impression. He went undrafted.

He went to preseason with Chivas USA that spring and was offered a developmental contract. Coming from an extremely studious family with real-world professions, it was not appealing.

He decided to give soccer in Spain a shot, joining Segunda B side Benidorm, although he was loaned out to a third division team. The reality of soccer abroad hit fast. The club stopped paying its players after four months and two months later Nick cut ties and moved back to Southern California.

“I thought my stock would have gone up since I played in Spain, but it was the opposite,” he said.

He had trials here and there with teams in various lower-level leagues, but they rarely presented realistic opportunities to be seen and were often filled with broken promises.

“Honestly I hated it,” he said of that time. “Outdoor was this massive disappointment.”

Back in the San Diego area, he found himself playing indoor soccer to pass the time and developed a real affinity for it – it served as a throwback to those summer days in Spain. An opportunity to join the San Diego Sockers soon popped up.

It was a legendary team in the community and hosted a veteran-heavy squad. One teammate – Aaron Susi – saw Nick’s potential and recommended him to Keith Tozer, head coach of U.S. Futsal and the Milwaukee Wave. Tozer brought Nick to a futsal camp and then offered him a contract with the Wave.

“The team was unbelievable and I learned so much,” Nick said. “I loved indoor – I felt that as a target attacking player, the smaller size of the game and roster, I was much more involved. Milwaukee was amazing. I learned every day with coach Tozer and our group of players was special.”

That first year indoors also saw his beach career get started. The San Diego Sockers entered a team in a local beach soccer tournament. One of the other teams was a USA selection that U.S. Beach National Team head coach Eddie Soto put together to observe some lesser-known players.

Perera and the Sockers won the tournament. Afterwards, Soto invited Nick to join the Beach Soccer National Team in Miami the following week for friendlies against Mexico, Brazil and Spain.

Nick scored his first two goals on sand against Mexico.

“Everything started coming together for me,” he said. “The small-sided game started presenting options for me. As Milwaukee and the beach thing happened, I closed the book on outdoor. It was over.”


Perera at the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup

Perera took Concacaf by storm in his first regional Beach Soccer Championship, scoring 11 goals in the 2013 tournament while leading the USA to the confederation title and a spot at the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Tahiti.

“When I watch tapes from 2013 and watch myself play now, there’s a big difference,” he notes. “The tools I have now are far more polished. In 2013 I was really hungry. I showed up with something really big to prove. And we did really well. It was amazing – the first time I tasted international success with the National Team and it opened this entire world to me.”

Nick scored five goals for the USA at the World Cup in Tahiti and offers to join European beach soccer leagues quickly followed.

“It doesn’t click until you’re done,” he said of the experience in Tahiti. “We talk with the guys about savoring these moments, because you never know how many you get. You never know when it will be the last time you get to put on a U.S. National Team jersey.”

Nick continued playing professional indoor soccer. This past year, not only did he become player/coach for the Tacoma Stars, he was also voted MASL MVP. He’s also the Director of Coaching for San Marcos Revolution, a youth club near San Diego. 

“It’s tough. It’s a passion for playing,” he said. “In order to access the soccer side I have to take care of the business side. It comes at large cost, and when I have these large life decisions, the only people who I look to for advice are my wife and my parents. Their support is enormous to me.”

Nick and his wife, Michelle, have a four-year old daughter, Sofia, and a two-year-old son, Theo. They live in Carlsbad, Calif.

He’s also part of the 20-member U.S. Soccer Federation Athletes' Council, which seeks to improve communication between athletes and the Federation.

“The more involved I’ve become with U.S. Soccer on the Athletes’ Council, the more I care and the more I realize the privilege that we have,” Nick said. “It gives you a better sense of the scope of the Federation and lets you see how things are done.”

This past year Nick played against U.S. Men’s National Team legend Landon Donovan in the Major Arena Soccer League.

“I know that I’ll never go down in the record books for U.S. Soccer as someone like Landon Donovan will but within the game of beach soccer I have goals on what I want to accomplish and numbers for the Federation that I want to accomplish also,” he said.

He might not be on Donovan’s level, but he’s making a dent in his own discipline. He’s already the USA’s all-time leading scorer in World Cup qualifying. 

“Nick is someone who has committed himself to our sport, and he’s one of the best target forwards in the world right now,” said Soto. “His ability to play in different spots is a threat. He can build for us, shoot from distance or he can be a target and throw bikes. He’s a massive threat.”

And it’s not just homer talk. Josep Ponset is the Director of Competitions for Beach Soccer Worldwide, the Barcelona-based organizing body for international beach soccer competitions.

“Nick Perera is undeniably one of the most important players not only in Concacaf but also on the global stage,” Ponset said. “He’s one of the deadliest strikers in our sport, who combines great technique, strength and a deep knowledge of the game. Moreover, his bicycle kicks are some of the most dangerous and difficult to stop in the world.”

Nick understands the role he’s playing on the U.S. team and for the sport in general.

“I love the game,” Nick said. “But I also want to leave a footprint so that in 10 years, whatever I’m doing, this sport doesn't look anything like it does now. We can be the trailblazers of what it can be.”

Beach soccer fans worldwide have come to appreciate his thunderous bicycle kick goals. In 2016, a tally he scored against Russia was nominated for U.S. Soccer Goal of the Year.

“I’ve grown up thinking that sports are an avenue but sports are also entertainment – you have to entertain a crowd,” he said. “That’s been part of something I try to do, I try to put on a show. I want to show up on every field, and if someone asks a random fan ‘Who’s the best player?’ I want them to say me. I’m never satisfied, I’m really hungry and I think that’s led to some success.”

While he’s raised his personal profile, he won’t be satisfied until his team – the U.S. Beach Soccer National Team – earns the same respect.

“Teams in our region may look at us as a powerhouse but on the larger international stage people still don’t have the respect for us that I would like them to have,” he said. “Nobody takes you seriously unless you start beating teams. Little by little we’re carving away at it. We have a group of players who are extremely hungry to prove what we’re trying to do here, – not just to Concacaf, but to the whole world.”

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Beach May 19, 2019
US Soccer

USA Clinches FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Berth With Penalty Kick Win vs. El Salvador

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico (May 18, 2019) – The U.S. Beach Soccer National Team clinched a berth at the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup with a dramatic, penalty kick win over El Salvador after the teams drew 3-3 through three periods and added extra time. The win also advanced the USA to the 2019 Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship title match on Sunday, May 19 against Mexico, which defeated Read more
Beach May 19, 2019
US Soccer

USA Moves Within One Game of Beach World Cup With 5-1 Win vs. Guadeloupe

PUERTO VALLARTA, JALISCO, MEX. (May 17, 2019) – The U.S. Beach Soccer National Team advanced to the semifinals of the 2019 Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship with a 5-1 win against Guadeloupe in Puerto Vallarta. The tournament’s top two scorers – Tanner Akol and Nick Perera – each scored twice and David Mondragon added his third of the competition. The USA found itself t Read more
Beach May 18, 2019

BERHALTER: "There is an amazing atmosphere in Cincinnati"

The last time U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter managed a game at Nippert Stadium, he came away with a memorable experience – if not a positive result. Head coach of Columbus Crew SC when the MLS side took on FC Cincinnati in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round, Berhalter’s side were on the wrong end of a 1-0 shutout to the then-USL club, just one Read more
MNT May 17, 2019
US Soccer

USA Defeats New Zealand 5-0 In Front Of 35,761 Fans In Second Game Of Send-Off Series, Presented By Volpi Foods

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (May 16, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team played the second match of its three-game Send-Off Series, Presented by Volpi Foods, recording a 5-0 win against New Zealand in front of 35,761 fans on a balmy spring night at Busch Stadium.

The USA dominated the flow of game, out-shooting New Zealand 25-1, and similar to the previous Send-Off Series match vs. South Africa, took the lead just past the half-hour mark when Tobin Heath touched home a Megan Rapinoe cross. Five minutes later, Rose Lavelle converted a Lindsay Horan cross with a fantastic finish to give the USWNT a 2-0 lead at the break.

The second half saw more of the same from the USA, which poured it on in the final half hour as substitute Carli Lloyd bagged a brace, the first after being on the pitch for a mere 44 seconds. Lloyd’s second in the 83rd minute was followed less than a minute later by Samantha Mewis’ third goal and fourth this year.

Up Next: The WNT travels to Harrison, N.J. for a showdown with Mexico on May 26 at Red Bull Arena (11:30 a.m. ET; ESPN, UDN) in the finale of the Send-Off Series, Presented by Volpi Foods.

Social: Follow the #USWNT on Facebook; Twitter and Instagram.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Tobin Heath (Megan Rapinoe), 35th minute:
A long ball out of the back by Abby Dahlkemper was settled by Alex Morgan for Megan Rapinoe to collect and drive toward the left end line. Picking her head up, Rapinoe spotted Heath steaming toward the right post and delivered a low cross through the goal mouth for the Portland Thorns attacker to tap in at the back post for her fourth of 2019 and ninth in her last 12 matches. USA 1, NZL 0 WATCH

USA – Rose Lavelle (Lindsay Horan), 40th minute: Five minutes after the USA’s opener, Horan and Lavelle produced a near carbon copy of Heath’s goal. Horan was played into space down New Zealand’s right flank and hit a well-placed cross to the into the middle where Lavelle, through an impressive ballet of body control, connected with the ball while sliding to the ground and volleyed her shot into the roof of the net for her seventh career WNT goal. USA 2, NZL 0 WATCH

USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath), 61st minute: Foty-four seconds after entering the match as a substitute, Carli Lloyd finished of a transition opportunity at the left post by tapping in a Tobin Heath pass that cut diagonally through the box to the unmarked captain. USA 3, NZL 0 WATCH

USA – Carli Lloyd (Christen Press), 83rd minute: With time ticking down, Lloyd capitalized on another quick strike attack by the USA. The ball was played out of the center of midfield to Press on the left and after driving forward with pace, she centered a low cross for Lloyd to tap home as her direct run into the heart of the box took her inside her trailing defender for the gritty conversion in front of a sliding defender. USA 4, NZL 0 WATCH

USA – Samantha Mewis (Christen Press), 84th minute: The U.S. worked down New Zealand’s right flank through Press again, but this time she laid the ball to Mewis who dribbled toward the top of the box, beat a defender and unleashed low drive from distance that a screened Erin Nayler in the Ferns goal couldn’t react to in time as deflected off a defender and stuck into the lower left corner of the net. USA 5, NZL 0 FINAL

Additional Notes:

  • Ali Krieger earned her 100th career cap tonight, becoming the 38th WNT player in history to reach the century mark.
  • Heath scored her fourth goal of 2019. She now has 11 goals in her last 17 matches and nine in her last 12. The strike was the 29th of her career.
  • Megan Rapinoe recorded her first assist of 2019 on Heath’s opening goal.
  • Rose Lavelle’s goal was the seventh of her international career.
  • Carli Lloyd’s brace in the second half raised her career total to 110 goals. She recently moved past Michelle Akers into fourth place on the WNT’s all-time goals scored list. She leads the team with five goals in 2019. It was her fourth goal in her last three games.
  • Samantha Mewis scored her third goal in her last two games. She now has four goals in 2019 and 12 in her career. Tonight was her 49th international appearance.
  • The game marked Alyssa Naeher’s 24th career shutout.

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

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. New Zealand
Date: May 16, 2019
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Busch Stadium; St. Louis, Mo.
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. CT
Attendance: 35,761
Weather: 88 degrees; Sunny

Scoring Summary:           1             2             F
USA                                      2             3             5                           
NZL                                      0             0             0

USA – Tobin Heath (Megan Rapinoe)                      35th minute
USA – Rose Lavelle (Lindsey Horan)                         40         
USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath)                                61
USA – Carli Lloyd (Christen Press)                             83
USA – Samantha Mewis (Christen Press)                84              

Lineups:
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 5-Kelley O’Hara (11-Ali Krieger, 60), 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 19-Crystal Dunn; 16-Rose Lavelle, 8-Julie Ertz (20-Allie Long, 73), 9-Lindsey Horan (3-Samantha Mewis, 46); 17-Tobin Heath (23-Christen Press, 72), 13-Alex Morgan (2-Mallory Pugh, 73), 15-Megan Rapinoe (capt.) (10-Carli Lloyd, 60)
Substitutes not used: 18-Ashlyn Harris, 21-Adrianna Franch, 6-Morgan Brian, 12-Tierna Davidson, 14-Emily Sonnett, 22-Jessica McDonald
Head coach: Jill Ellis

NZL: 1-Erin Nayler; 14-Katie Bowen, 5-Meikayla Moore, 8-Abby Erceg, 3-Anna Green (19-Paige Satchell, 69); 16-Katie Duncan (22-Olivia Chance, 60), 10-Annalie Longo, 2-Ria Percival; 13-Rosie White, 11-Sarah Gregorius (17-Hannah Wilkinson, 75), 7-Ali Riley (capt.)
Substitutes not used: 23-Nadia Olla, 9-Emma Kete, 15-Sarah Morton, 18-Stephanie Skilton, 20-Daisy Cleverley
Head coach: Tom Sermanni

Stats Summary: USA / NZL
Shots: 25 / 1
Shots on Goal: 9 / 0
Saves: 0 / 4
Corner Kicks: 10 / 1
Fouls: 8 / 4
Offside: 7 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
NZL – Anna Green (caution)                                       33rd minute

Officials:
Referee: Karen Abt (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Jennifer Garner (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Deleana Quan (USA)
4th Official: Christina Unkel (USA)                                                                                                                                                                                   

Budweiser Woman of the Match:  Carli Lloyd

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WNT May 16, 2019
US Soccer

USA Battles Hard But Falls to Mexico 2-1 in Extra Time of 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship Final

BRADENTON, Fla. (May 16, 2019)—The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team went the distance, but ultimately fell to Mexico 2-1 in extra time of the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship Final. With the result, the USA finishes as runner-up at the tournament, but comes away having qualified for a record 17th FIFA U-17 World Cup, which it will contest later this year in Brazil. A frenetic first Read more
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US Soccer

Lineup Notes: Busch Stadium in St. Louis Hosts USA-New Zealand in Second Game of Send-Off Series Presented by Volpi Foods

USA vs. New Zealand Date: May 16, 2019 Venue: Busch Stadium; St. Louis, Mo. Broadcast: ESPN2 Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT Starting XI vs. New Zealand: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 19-Crystal Dunn; 8-Julie Ertz, 9-Lindsey Horan, 16-Rose Lavelle; 17-Tobin Heath, 13-Alex Morgan, 15-Megan Rapinoe (capt.) Subs: 2-Mallory Pugh, 3-Samantha Read more
WNT May 16, 2019
US Soccer

USA Defeats Bahamas to Go Undefeated in Group Play at 2019 Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico (May 16, 2019) – The U.S. Beach Soccer National Team defeated the Bahamas 3-2 Thursday afternoon to complete a sweep of Group C at the 2019 Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship. Tanner Akol scored twice and Nick Perera converted a late game-winning penalty kick after Bahamas had evened the scored in the final period. Both teams had already qualified for the knockout st Read more
Beach May 16, 2019
US Soccer

The Great Eight: Rd. 2: Soccer Soldiers, Old Ghosts & Lessons Learned

Fans of the 106-year-old Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup live by its magic moments. And the Second Round of the 2019 competition tossed up a good few of those on May 14 and 15. Join ussoccer.com for a look back at eight moments of note from the 19 games, in which Florida’s Soccer Soldiers dreamed huge, teachers and students shared the Open Cup’s magic and Eric Wynalda battled his own past.

The Old Ghosts of San Francisco
Without Boxer Stadium, there’d be no Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. No Allianz Field in St. Paul. You’d have none of your gleaming, glittering tributes to the strides soccer’s made in America without this old ground. It was built in 1953 and it ain’t pretty. The grass is long and patched with dandelions. Weeds grow through the cracks in the concrete grandstand. It’s the oldest soccer-specific stadium in the country. A West Coast version of New York City’s Metropolitan Oval, it’s where the ghosts of American soccer’s past – its brawls and all slender glories – whisper and mingle with the here and now. Sure, the wind whips through Boxer and you’d better bundle up. But oh how she looks out over the rooftops of the City by the Bay. Sixty-three years after her opening, Boxer’s still hosting U.S. Open Cup games.

Most recently on Boxer’s bumpy pitch, El Farolito, semi-pro strivers with history and pedigree, stretched the visiting pros from Fresno. The tackles were vicious. The play was slow, deliberate on that long grass. Skillful. One mistake was always going to decide it. In the end, El Farolito’s goalkeeper Luis Castro dropped the ball. It fell to the wrong foot. And that was that. Boxer Stadium doesn’t play favorites. She’s just a witness to what the game was, is and might become still.

Wynalda’s Past, Present & Future
Eric Wynalda knocked Cal FC out of the Open Cup. It was almost Biblical. He built that team of unknowns and left-behinds from greater LA into a unit, and on one given night in 2012, they took down the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. But before you tar and feather the man, Wynalda’s no sell-out. Not a chance. He’s still that same old avowed evangelist of the Open Cup, its underdogs and opportunities, the warm hand it puts on the shoulder of those who believe in impossible things. His current side, the Las Vegas Lights of the USL Championship, have something of the Bad News Bears about them. From Sammy Ochoa, still wily but paunchy and nearing the end, to fiery winger Pablo Cruz, one of six players Wynalda brought with him from Cal FC. The Lights wear garish neon and keep a pair of lovely llamas, Dolly and Dotty, as mascots. Hoopla aside, the Open Cup Second Round game played at Cashman Field in downtown Vegas, between Cal FC and Las Vegas Lights, was about as devoted to attack and style and fire, as any you’re likely to see.


(Eric Wynalda fits right in with the eccentric Las Vegas Lights)

When Eric Wynalda’s past and present met, we all hit the jackpot. What of his future, you ask? A date at that same old baseball stadium off the Strip against another amateur side, Orange County FC. They’re led by Wynalda’s old USA teammate Paul Caligiuri. Will we never escape the past?  

Live By the Shootout…
Des Moines Menace goalkeeper Jordan Bell rescued his team in the First Round. His psych-out head games upset Duluth FC. He leapt on the line and rattled the crossbar during that shootout last week. And it worked. But he ran out of mojo this time. He pressed his luck in front of that same goal where he tripped up the brittle Minnesotans. Against Saint Louis FC’s pros, Bell’s antics went stale. He had the air of a one-hit wonder playing that same old tune for old time’s sake. Was there anything at all written on the crib sheet he kept in his sock and consulted before every kick? Was it just an elaborate scam? If so, how delicious. The yellow card Bell earned may not be the first-ever shown in an Open Cup shootout, but you don’t see its ilk every day. He spent so much time and energy trying to get in the kickers’ heads, he forgot to make his saves. Bell got his hands to the first shot and should have kept it out. But on this night, he saved none while his counterpart – 18 year-old Patrick Schulte – was the one with the hot hands. The skinny youngster saved three of four before earning a big hug from his mom and grandma, who came out to watch their boy’s first pro start. 

Teachers, Students & Open Cup Lessons
Chas Wilson, a social studies teacher at West Chester Henderson High School in suburban PA, put his hand up in the air in celebration. He’d scored again for his West Chester Predators; this time against pros Birmingham Legion. It was only consolation, but it was a salute to all those landscapers, laborers and nine-to-fivers out there who still play the game because they love it. Because of the sheer joy of it. His hand went up in salute to his students, who he teaches from beyond the classroom in this 106-year-old soccer tournament. They’re simple, enduring lessons. Chase your dreams, his hand in the air seemed to say. Don’t make excuses. Don’t give up. Not all victories are wins.

Elsewhere, in Nashville, Kobe Perez of South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 missed his high school graduation to play in an Open Cup game. He lost, 2-3 to pro side Nashville SC. And he missed out on those caps and gowns – that special, bittersweet day of hugs and endings and new beginnings. Let’s not worry, though, for what’s won and lost isn’t always tallied on the scoreboard.

Cup Dreams & Soccer Soldiers
It wasn’t possible. It must have been a dream. The whole thing. It was a nightmare back-pass for Charlotte Independence defender Hassan Ndam, who laid the ball into the loose space between himself and his keeper. It was a dream-come-true for Valentin Sabella, who raced onto the gift, around the ‘keeper and slotted home. There were just two minutes left in extra-time. The score was 2-2 now and penalties loomed. “What is happening?!” ESPN+ analyst Bobby Warshaw shouted in wonder and despair and disbelief. What was happening was the essence of the Open Cup. Florida’s amateur Soccer Soldiers, down a man for many minutes, were on their way to beating their second pro team in the 2019 tournament and capturing our imagination with their cheek and style and guts. “This makes no sense!” Warshaw, who knew the Open Cup as a player, screamed as the Soccer Soldiers moved on against all logic and heavy odds. He sounded almost resigned by the end. “This is the Open Cup,” he conceded, his voice withered from the excitement. It is indeed. More, please.  

 

Soccer in a Baseball World
You can still see the shadow of the pitcher’s mound. It stains the grass like a shipwreck under the water. A vestigial infield cuts through the pitch’s flank like a wound. There’s something awkward about these abandoned baseball stadiums – Cashman in Vegas, the one in El Paso, Memphis and Al Lang Stadium in Tampa Bay. But these old ghosts have something to say. Something mournful about where we’ve been as a country and where we’re heading. Like the train whistles that sounded from passing engines in Pittsburgh, on the Monongahela River, beside the magnificent soccer specific home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. And in Little Rock in Arkansas, which saw its first Open Cup game since the tournament began in 1914. These are the sounds and sights of the last century, one where the Open Cup survived, awkwardly at times. Is it also a glimpse of soccer’s bright future in these United States?

Too Close to Call
It was just too close in Orange County. Literally. When you say Orange County SC and Orange County FC out loud on TV, the two names sound exactly the same. So the ESPN+ commentators came up with a system: Orange County Blues and Orange County Blacks. An elegant workaround and one suited to the Open Cup’s spirit of improvisation. These two teams, one amateur and one pro, could not be separated. After 90 minutes, they were too close, tangled at 2-2. After 120 minutes, still they were tied. It seemed fitting, in the end, for the fate of two teams separated by just one single letter of the alphabet, who share the same stadium every weekend, to be decided by a shootout. And the amateurs won.

A Fond Farewell
In among the upsets and the dreams, we’d be wrong not to spare a thought for those clubs who took their leave. With every rise, a fall – this is the Open Cup after all. There’s no winner without a loser. No draws here. Nothing to share. You NTX Rayados, we’re sad you’re gone. You showed us your style and class, and even cancelled flights and flat tires couldn’t stop you. West Chester’s Predators, you ruled the road and are closer for it. The Villages, the Buffalo from Central Florida, we’re sure we’ll see you again too. Cal FC’s Richie Menjivar and Danny Barrera – those heroes of 2012 – you remind us that anything is possible in the Open Cup. For those we’ve lost, know you’ve all done your part.

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U.S. Open Cup May 16, 2019

Schedule

Results

Date Matchup Result Venue Attendance Goal Scorers
0-1 L Las Palmas, Canary Islands 450 --
0-5 L Las Palmas, Canary Islands 300 --
0-1 L San Bartolomรฉ de Tirajana, Canary Islands 275 --

2016 Copa de Atlantico

PLAYER POS. HT. WT. BIRTHDATE HOMETOWN CLUB/COLLEGE
M 5-7 138 Palmdale, Calif. Real So Cal
D 5-11 165 Grapevine, Texas FC Dallas
F 5-9 145 Port Chester, N.Y. Orlando City SC Academy
M Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Beachside SC
D 6-1 164 Nashville, Tenn. Real Salt Lake Academy
F 5-11 158 Austin, Texas Darmstadt (Germany)
GK Frisco, Texas FC Dallas
F Bellevue, Wash. Crossfire Premier
F 5-2 109 Orlando, Fla.
M 5-8 150 Hillsboro, Ore. Portland Timbers Academy
M 6-1 185 Little Elm, Texas Schalke (Germany)
M 5-10 153 Lemont, Ill. Chicago Fire
D 6-2 180 Frisco, Texas FC Dallas
D 5-10 143 McKinney, Texas FC Dallas
D 5-9 153 Medina, Ohio Internationals
M 5-8 150 Highland Village, Texas FC Dallas
GK 5-11 170 Mechanicsville, Va. Richmond United
D D.C. United
F Garden City Park, N.Y. New York Red Bulls Academy
GK 6-1 181 Bethlehem, Pa. Players Development Academy
D 6-2 171 Media, Pa. Philadelphia Union
F Los Angeles, Calif. LA Galaxy

2016 Copa de Atlantico

Eric Calvillo

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-7

Weight:
138

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Palmdale, Calif.

Club:
Real So Cal

Reggie Cannon

Position:
Defender

Height:
5-11

Weight:
165

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Grapevine, Texas

Club:
FC Dallas

Pierre Da Silva

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-9

Weight:
145

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Port Chester, N.Y.

Club:
Orlando City SC Academy

John Denis

Position:
Midfielder

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

Club:
Beachside SC

Tanner Dieterich

Position:
Defender

Height:
6-1

Weight:
164

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Nashville, Tenn.

Club:
Real Salt Lake Academy

McKinze Gaines

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-11

Weight:
158

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Austin, Texas

Club:
Darmstadt (Germany)

Benjamin Hale

Position:
Goalkeeper

Position:
Goalkeeper

Hometown:
Frisco, Texas

Club:
FC Dallas

Simon Lekressner

Position:
Forward

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Bellevue, Wash.

Club:
Crossfire Premier

David Loera

Position:
Forward

Height:
5-2

Weight:
109

Birthdate:

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Orlando, Fla.

Terrell Lowe

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-8

Weight:
150

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Hillsboro, Ore.

Club:
Portland Timbers Academy

Weston McKennie

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
6-1

Weight:
185

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Little Elm, Texas

Club:
Schalke (Germany)

Djordje Mihailovic

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-10

Weight:
153

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Lemont, Ill.

Club:
Chicago Fire

Hector Montalvo

Position:
Defender

Height:
6-2

Weight:
180

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Frisco, Texas

Club:
FC Dallas

Edwin Munjoma

Position:
Defender

Height:
5-10

Weight:
143

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
McKinney, Texas

Club:
FC Dallas

John Nelson

Position:
Defender

Height:
5-9

Weight:
153

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Medina, Ohio

Club:
Internationals

Paxton Pomykal

Position:
Midfielder

Height:
5-8

Weight:
150

Birthdate:

Position:
Midfielder

Hometown:
Highland Village, Texas

Club:
FC Dallas

William Pulisic

Position:
Goalkeeper

Height:
5-11

Weight:
170

Birthdate:

Position:
Goalkeeper

Hometown:
Mechanicsville, Va.

Club:
Richmond United

Grant Robinson

Position:
Defender

Position:
Defender

Club:
D.C. United

Brian Saramago

Position:
Forward

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Garden City Park, N.Y.

Club:
New York Red Bulls Academy

Kevin Silva

Position:
Goalkeeper

Height:
6-1

Weight:
181

Birthdate:

Position:
Goalkeeper

Hometown:
Bethlehem, Pa.

Club:
Players Development Academy

Auston Trusty

Position:
Defender

Height:
6-2

Weight:
171

Birthdate:

Position:
Defender

Hometown:
Media, Pa.

Club:
Philadelphia Union

Ethan Zubak

Position:
Forward

Position:
Forward

Hometown:
Los Angeles, Calif.

Club:
LA Galaxy

Group A

Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
France 3 2 0 1 7 0 7 7
Spain 3 2 0 1 4 1 3 7
Canary Islands 3 1 2 0 2 -3 3
United States 3 0 3 0 0 7 -7 0

Group A

Date Match Time (ET)/Result Venue
Feb. 2 United States vs. Spain 0-1 San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Canary Islands
Feb. 2 Canary Islands vs. France 0-2 San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Canary Islands
Feb. 3 United States vs. France 0-5 Las Palmas, Canary Islands
Feb. 3 Spain vs. Canary Islands 3-1 Las Palmas, Canary Islands
Feb. 5 Canary Islands vs. United States 1-0 Las Palmas, Canary Islands
Feb. 5 France vs. Spain 0-0 Las Palmas, Canary Islands

U.S. U-19 Men's National Team - 2016 Copa del Atlantico Stats

Record: 0-3-0

Player

Pos

GP

GS

Min.

G

A

Pts

Y/R



0 0 0 0 0 0 1/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0


0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0
Own Goal 0
Totals
3 3 270 0 0 0 0/0
Opponent Totals
3 3 270 0 0 0 0/0

2016 Copa del Atlantico Goalkeeping Statistics

Player Name

GP

GS

Min.

GF

GA

SO

GAA

W-L-T


0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0-0-0

0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0-0-0
Totals 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0-0-0
Opponent Totals 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0-0-0

Updated through Feb. 5, 2016

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