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US Soccer

U-23 WNT Defeats Norway 2-1 at Nordic Womens Tournament in England

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, England (June 4, 2016) – The U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team won for the second time in two games at the four-team U-23 Women’s Nordic Tournament, defeating Norway 2-1 on goals from Tyler Lussi and Savannah Jordan.

The tournament is taking place at the St. George’s Park Football Centre, the National Training Center of the England FA in Burton-upon-Trent, located about 130 miles north of London.

In its final match of the competition on June 7, the USA will face the U-23 Women’s National Teams of England and can win the tournament with a victory or a tie. In this tournament, teams are awarded one point for a tie at the end of regulation and then the matches go to penalty kicks, with the winner of the shootout getting an additional point.

With the current point standings after two games for each team as follows – USA (6), England (5), Norway (1) and Sweden (0) – should the USA and England tie, and England win the shootout, both teams would have seven points, but the USA would still take the title on goal difference as it’s currently at +3 while England is at +1.

The USA opened the scoring in the 42nd minute after McKenzie Meehan won a ball deep in the Norway half on the left wing and played a short square pass centrally to Lussi who crushed a shot from 20 yards off the underside of the cross bar. The ball bounced down just over the goal line to give the USA a 1-0 lead.

The USA scored three minutes into the second half as Rachel Hill played a pass to Jordan who was making a run up the middle. Confronted by two defenders at the top of the penalty box, Jordan danced with the ball a bit before playing a pass for Lussi out on the left side of the penalty area. Lussi beat a defender to the inside and played it back to Jordan, who evaded three defenders before smacking a low left-footer under the ‘keeper and into the net to make it 2-0.

It was Jordan’s third goal of the tournament after she scored twice in a 3-1 win against Sweden on June 2.

Norway scored in the 71st minute, but would not beat U.S. goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel again.

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

Match: United States U-23 WNT v. Norway U-23 WNT
Date: June 4, 2016
Competition: U-23 Women’s Nordic Tournament
Venue: St. George’s Park Football Centre; Burton-upon-Trent, United Kingdom
Weather: 60 degrees, sunny 

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F
USA                             1          1          2
NOR                            0          1          1 

USA – Tyler Lussi (McKenzie Meehan)                     42nd minute
USA – Savannah Jordan (Tyler Lussi)                       48
NOR – Johanne Fridlund (Amalie Velve Eikeland)    71 

Lineups:
USA:
22-Madalyn Schiffel; 14-Christina Gibbons, 16-Kirsten Crowley, 5-Maddie Bauer, 20-Caroline Flynn (15-Brittany Basinger, 81), 13-McKenzie Meehan (4-Rachel Hill, 46), 6-Andi Sullivan (capt.) (2-Claire Falknor, 71), 10-Morgan Proffitt, 7-Margaret Purce (11-Toni Payne, 46), 25-Ashley Herndon (3-Savannah Jordan, 46), 17-Tyler Lussi
Subs Not Used: 1-Jane Campbell, 18-Stephanie Rebeiro

Head Coach: Janet Rayfield

NOR: 2-Cecilie Redisch Kvamme (13-Mali Lilleas Naess, 59); 3-Ingrid Katrine Buer Sondena (16-Lena Soleng Hansen, 64), 5-Nora Byom-Nilssen, 6-Vilde Boe Risa (18-Ingrid Marie Spord, 59), 7-Karina Saevik, 9-Andrea Segnant Thun (14-Pernille Velta, 80), 10-Guro Reiten (17-Andrine Hegerberg, 46), 11-Synne Sofie Kinden Jensen (8-Johanne Fridlund, 64), 15-Stine Pettersen Reinas, 20-Amalie Vevle Eikeland
Subs Not Used: 1-Mari Johnsen Johnasen
Head Coach: Nils Lexerod
 

Stats Summary: USA / NOR
Shots: 11 / 9
Shots on Goal: 8 / 8
Saves: 7 / 6
Corner Kicks: 1 / 3
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 0 / 1 

Misconduct Summary:
NOR – Stine Pettersen Reinas (caution)       32nd minute

Officials:
Referee: Andrew Hendley
Assistant Referee 1: Jessica Lawson
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Evans
4th Official: Kevin Caroll 

2016 U-23 Women’s Nordic Tournament Results

June 2
USA 3, Sweden 1
England 1, Norway 1* 

June 4
USA 2, Norway 1
England 1, Sweden 0 

June 7
USA vs. England
Sweden vs. Norway 

*England won in penalty kicks. Tournament rules award teams one point for a tie and one point for a penalty kick win.

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U-23 WNT Jun 4, 2016

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

Match: United States U-23 WNT v. Norway U-23 WNT
Date: June 4, 2016
Competition: U-23 Women’s Nordic Tournament
Venue: St. George’s Park Football Centre; Burton-upon-Trent, United Kingdom
Weather: 60 degrees, sunny 

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F
USA                             1          1          2
NOR                            0          1          1 

USA – Tyler Lussi (McKenzie Meehan)                     42nd minute
USA – Savannah Jordan (Tyler Lussi)                       48
NOR – Johanne Fridlund (Amalie Velve Eikeland)    71 

Lineups:
USA:
22-Madalyn Schiffel; 14-Christina Gibbons, 16-Kirsten Crowley, 5-Maddie Bauer, 20-Caroline Flynn (15-Brittany Basinger, 81), 13-McKenzie Meehan (4-Rachel Hill, 46), 6-Andi Sullivan (capt.) (2-Claire Falknor, 71), 10-Morgan Proffitt, 7-Margaret Purce (11-Toni Payne, 46), 25-Ashley Herndon (3-Savannah Jordan, 46), 17-Tyler Lussi
Subs Not Used: 1-Jane Campbell, 18-Stephanie Rebeiro

Head Coach: Janet Rayfield

NOR: 2-Cecilie Redisch Kvamme (13-Mali Lilleas Naess, 59); 3-Ingrid Katrine Buer Sondena (16-Lena Soleng Hansen, 64), 5-Nora Byom-Nilssen, 6-Vilde Boe Risa (18-Ingrid Marie Spord, 59), 7-Karina Saevik, 9-Andrea Segnant Thun (14-Pernille Velta, 80), 10-Guro Reiten (17-Andrine Hegerberg, 46), 11-Synne Sofie Kinden Jensen (8-Johanne Fridlund, 64), 15-Stine Pettersen Reinas, 20-Amalie Vevle Eikeland
Subs Not Used: 1-Mari Johnsen Johnasen
Head Coach: Nils Lexerod
 

Stats Summary: USA / NOR
Shots: 11 / 9
Shots on Goal: 8 / 8
Saves: 7 / 6
Corner Kicks: 1 / 3
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 0 / 1 

Misconduct Summary:
NOR – Stine Pettersen Reinas (caution)       32nd minute

Officials:
Referee: Andrew Hendley
Assistant Referee 1: Jessica Lawson
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Evans
4th Official: Kevin Caroll 

2016 U-23 Women’s Nordic Tournament Results

June 2
USA 3, Sweden 1
England 1, Norway 1* 

June 4
USA 2, Norway 1
England 1, Sweden 0 

June 7
USA vs. England
Sweden vs. Norway 

*England won in penalty kicks. Tournament rules award teams one point for a tie and one point for a penalty kick win.

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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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