LOCALS: Open Cup starts with local fight

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
12:20
AM PT

Fullerton Rangers coach Raul Zico Ruiz expects a classic battle of opposing styles when his club takes on the Ventura County Fusion in Tuesday's opening round of the U.S. Open Cup.

Fusion coach Ole Mikkelsen doesn't know what to expect, and really doesn't care.

“At the end of the day, in the first round, you just want to play your game and get a few fortunate bounces of the ball,” he said. “I knew very little about the teams we've played in the first round the past few years, and I know very little about [Fullerton]. At the end of the day, we'll focus on the style of soccer we want play. Hopefully, it's enough to get you through.

“Last year it was. The year before it wasn't.”

The Rangers probably have the advantage at Santa Ana Stadium, owing to schedule and holdovers. They made the National Premier Soccer League playoffs last year as the Santa Ana Winds, and most of the players stuck around when the team changed sponsors -- so there's some continuity at work. They were playing Open Cup qualifiers in March and opened National Premier Soccer League play on April 7.

The Fusion, with a relatively new roster, played their first Premier Development League game last week. Many of the players who were with the team during preseason -- when they took on (and beat) Major League Soccer clubs -- are with bigger teams in more advanced leagues.

“It's a huge advantage for us,” said Ruiz, who scouted the Fusion's 1-0 PDL loss Sunday against L.A. Misioneros and says Ventura County's direct approach will contrast with the Rangers' possession-first game. “We had a couple of losses in league, but they brought the team together. We've been together now two years, and they know how each other plays and moves off the ball.”

The winner advances to a second-round game next week against the L.A. Blues, tentatively slated for Riverside Community College's Norco campus.

The Rangers are 4-2-0 in the NPSL, but both losses came when they were without midfielder leader Andre Turoldo (Torrance/North Torrance HS and Cal State Dominguez Hills) and backline anchor Leobardo Alvarez.

The Fusion (0-1-1 in the PDL) lost to the Arizona Sahuaros on penalties in the first round of the 2010 Open Cup -- they had qualified by winning the PDL title -- and last year beat Manhattan Beach's Doxa Italia in the first round and lost to the L.A. Blues in the second round.

Two more Southern California teams, both with pro talent, also play openers Tuesday. U.S. Adult Soccer Association Region IV champion PSA Elite, from Irvine, visits 2010 PDL champ Portland Timbers U-23, and Region IV runner-up Cal FC, from Thousand Oaks, plays at reigning PDL titlist Kitsap Pumas in Bremerton, Wash.

PSA would play at winless Carolina RailHawks, the second-division North American Soccer League's last-place team, if it wins in Portland. A victorious Cal FC would travel to play the USL Pro's Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads.

Reigning PDL Southwest Division champion Fresno Fuego plays at Stanislaus United Turlock Express, the first U.S. Club Soccer team to qualify for the Open Cup.

Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:

USL PRO: The only unbeaten sides in the third-division league roll on. Defending champion Orlando City SC (6-0-1) swept its games at Antigua Barracuda, with former UCLA star Maxwell Griffin (Palmdale/Littlerock HS) forcing the 89th-minute own goal in the first meeting (1-0) and scoring the equalizer in game two (2-1).

Rochester (6-0-0) claimed 1-0 decisions at Charlotte and Charleston. The Rhinos, who have won five games by that score and a sixth, over the L.A. Blues, by 2-0, can vault into the top spot by beating winless Dayton on Friday. Orlando City is idle this week.

Antigua surprised host W Connection from Trinidad & Tobago in its Caribbean Football Union Club Championship group finale, finishing first in semifinal Group 5 to advance to the final four after a 2-1 victory. Peter Byers, who played for the Blues last year, scored the winner. Antigua and W Connection will play in the final group, with the top three finishers qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League. The NASL's Puerto Rico Islanders, who face Group 4 qualifying next week, have won the last two CFU titles and is seeking a fifth straight Champions League trip.

PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE: L.A. Misioneros (1-2-2) might be for real. They followed last week's 1-1 draw at Ventura County by beating the Fusion on Sunday in L.A. Kareem Morad (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS and Mt. San Antonio College) scored the goal, in the second minute, and goalkeeper Aldo Iniguez (San Bernardino/San Gorgonio HS) stopped a penalty kick. The Fusion's lineup featured former Galaxy defender Mike Randolph, who was to play for Misioneros until Brent Whitfield -- also with Ventura County -- was dismissed as head coach just before the season began.

Orange County Blue Star tied for the third straight game, with Concordia University's Christian Ramirez (Garden Grove/La Quinta HS and UC Santa Barbara) scoring early in a 1-1 draw with Fresno. Newcomers FC Tucson, also looking like a contender, spoiled the Pali Blues' home opener.

La Mirada's Southern California Seahorses open their season Wednesday night at Pali.

NATIONAL PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE: Any doubts over where the West's strength lies was answered over the weekend, the first of successive crossover weeks in the conference. Southern teams won five of six matches with their Northern counterparts, and most of them weren't very close.

The most significant result was FC Hasental's 5-1 rout of Northern leader Sacramento, with Omar de la Piedra (Canoga Park/Canoga Park HS and L.A. Mission College) scoring two goals. The Thousand Oaks-based Conejos (3-2-1) are unbeaten in their last four games.

The Fullerton Rangers (4-2-0) and FC Santa Clarita (3-1-2) claimed 3-1 road victories, with Cuban forward Eder Roldan scoring a goal and assisting two more for Rangers (against San Francisco) and Tyler Coombes (Palmdale/Palmdale HS and Cal State L.A.) doing likewise for the Storm (against Sonoma County).

The other Southern loser was Phoenix (0-6-0), which was drilled, 9-0, at Real San Jose. The Monsoon used a reserve team after last week's forfeit loss at Hasental and did not have 11 players until just before kickoff.

USL W-LEAGUE: Women's Professional Soccer veteran Sarah Huffman made the big imprint as the Western Conference kicked off, setting up Long Beach State's Lindsay Bullock (Manhattan Beach/Mira Costa HS) and then adding a goal of her own in Pali Blues' 2-0 win over the L.A. Strikers.

The Victoria Highlanders matched their 2011 victory total in their opener, stunning cross-province rival Vancouver, 3-2.

WOMEN'S PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE: The Pacific Conference begins play this weekend, with two of the three local clubs -- Beach Futbol Club and L.A. Vikings -- facing off Friday night at Long Beach State. The fourth South Division team, the San Diego SeaLions, has games against North Division sides. The South dropped two teams, including WPSL champion Orange County Waves, which lost their funding. Also gone are the Claremont Stars and L.A. Premier.

NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE: Former UC Irvine star Amani Walker scored his second goal of the season and Chivas USA draft pick Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS and Cal State Fullerton) netted his first to lead the Minnesota Stars (3-0-3) to a 2-1 win over the Carolina RailHawks in the second-division league. The Stars, the NASL's only unbeaten team, are second in the standings, one point behind Puerto Rico (4-1-1).


THE NUMBERS

  • DIVISION 3/MEN

USL PRO
Last week's results (home teams listed first)
Friday

Antigua Barracuda 0, Orlando City 1 (og Dublin 89)
Dayton Dutch Lions 0, L.A. Blues 1 (Russell 73)
Charlotte Eagles 0, Rochester Rhinos 1 (Chinn 18)
Saturday
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 0, L.A. Blues 3 (Waddell 46, Dike 52, Fondy 69)
Richmond Kickers 2 (Delicate 8, Agorsor 78), Harrisburg City Islanders 2 (Noone 9, Ekra 80)
Charleston Battery 0, Rochester Rhinos 1 (Earls 61)
Sunday
Antigua Barracuda 1 (Q. Griffin pen. 20), Orlando City 2 (M. Griffin 26, Allen 46)

Standings
1. Orlando City SC (6-0-1) 19 points; 2. Rochester Rhinos (6-0-0) 18; 3. Charleston Battery (4-2-0) 12; 4. L.A. Blues (3-2-1) 10; 5. Wilmington Hammerheads (2-2-2) 8; 6. Charlotte Eagles (2-6-1) 7; 7. Richmond Kickers (1-2-3) 6; 8. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2-5-0) 6; 9. Antigua Barracuda (2-6-0) 6; 10. Harrisburg City Islanders (1-1-2) 5; 11. Dayton Dutch Lions (0-3-2) 2.

This week's games (all times Pacific)
Wednesday
Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Harrisburg City Islanders, 4 p.m.
Friday
Richmond Kickers at Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 4 p.m.
Dayton Dutch Lions at Rochester Rhinos, 4:35 p.m.
Saturday
Dayton Dutch Lions at Harrisburg City Islanders, 3 p.m.
Charlotte Eagles at Wilmington Hammerheads, 4:30 p.m.


  • DIVISION 4/MEN

USL PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Southwest Division
Last week's results (home teams listed first)
Friday

Orange County Blue Star 1 (Ramirez 13), Fresno Fuego 1 (Islas 50)
Saturday
Pali Blues 0, FC Tucson 1 (Sanchez 83)
Sunday
L.A. Misioneros 1 (Morad 2), Ventura County Fusion 0

Standings
1. Fresno Fuego (3-0-1) 10 points; 2. L.A. Misioneros (1-2-2), 5; 3. Orange County Blue Star (0-0-3) 3; 4. FC Tucson (1-1-0) 3; 5. Pali Blues and Ventura County Fusion (0-1-1) 1; 7. Southern California Seahorses, BYU Cougars and Ogden Outlaws (0-0-0) 0.

This week's games
Wednesday
Southern Californian Seahorses vs. Pali Blues at Palisades HS (Pacific Palisades), 7:30 p.m.
Friday
Ogden Outlaws vs. Ventura County Fusion at Ventura College, 7 p.m.
Orange County Blue Star at Fresno Fuego, 7 p.m.
Saturday
Southern California Seahorses at FC Tucson, 7 p.m.
Sunday
Pali Blues vs. Ventura County Fusion at Ventura College, 3 p.m.
Ogden Outlaws vs. Orange County Blue Star at Concordia University (Irvine), 3 p.m.


NATIONAL PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE
WEST DIVISION
Last week's results (home teams listed first)
Saturday
FC Hasental 5 (de la Piedra 7, 47, Palmer 16, McNutt 65, Velasquez 90), Sacramento Gold 1 (Mendoza 76)
San Diego Flash 3 (O'rtega 16, Tennelle 48, Bakal 80), Bay Area Ambassadors 0
San Francisco Stompers 1 (Hadley 10), Fullerton Rangers 3 (Arvizu 70, Roldan 75, Alvarado 80)
San Diego Boca 7 (Maderos 11, Haase 25, 68, Sanchez 47, 67, Canazales 53, Rodriguez 88), North Coast Tsunami 0
Real San Jose 9 (Koochoie 5, 25, Kehoe 9, Gonzalez 10, 81, Mitchell 58, Mayer 72, Saxelby 75, Cortez 83), Phoenix Monsoon 0
Sunday
Sonoma County Sol 1 (Ferreira 55), FC Santa Clarita Storm 3 (Martines 20, Harlley 65, Coombes 75)

Standings
Southern Conference:
1. San Diego Flash (5-0-1) 16 points; 2. Fullerton Rangers (4-2-0) 12; 3. FC Santa Clarita Storm (3-1-2) 11; 4. FC Hasental (3-2-1) 10; 5. San Diego Boca (2-2-2) 8; 6. Phoenix Monsoon (0-6-0) 0.
Northern Conference: 1. Sacramento Storm (4-2-0) 12; 2. Real San Jose (2-1-2) 8; 3. Sonoma County Sol (2-2-2) 8; 4. San Francisco Stompers (1-3-2) 5; 5. Bay Area Ambassadors (1-3-1) 4; 6. North Coast Tsunami (1-4-1) 4.

This week's games (all times Pacific)
Saturday
San Diego Flash at North Coast Tsunami, 1 p.m.
Sonoma County Sol vs. Fullerton Rangers at Santa Ana Stadium, 5:30 p.m.
Real San Jose vs. FC Santa Clarita Storm at Canyon HS (Canyon Country), 6 p.m.
FC Hasental at Bay Area Ambassadors, 7 p.m.
San Francisco Stompers at Phoenix Monsoon, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday
San Diego Boca at Sacramento Gold, 2 p.m.


  • DIVISION 2/WOMEN

USL W-LEAGUE
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Last week's results (home teams listed first)
Sunday

Victoria Highlanders 3 (Hansen pen. 43, Hoetzel 58, 63), Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (Buckland 41, Franzao 69)
L.A. Strikers 0, Pali Blues 2 (Bullock 69, Hufman 84)

Standings
1. Pali Blues (1-0-0) 3 points; 2. Victoria Highlanders (1-0-0) 3; 3. Santa Clarita Blue Heat, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Rush and Seattle Sounders (0-0-0) 0; 7. Vancouver Whitecaps (0-1-0), 0; 8. L.A. Strikers (0-1-0), 0.

This week's games (all times Pacific)
Sunday
Colorado Rush at Victoria Highlanders, 2 p.m.
Pali Blues vs. Santa Clarita Blue Heat at Valencia HS, 5 p.m.


WOMEN'S PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE
PACIFIC CONFERENCE
This week's games (all times Pacific)
Friday
L.A. Vikings vs. Beach FC at Long Beach State, 7 p.m.
Saturday
San Diego SeaLions at California Storm, 7 p.m.
Sunday
San Diego SeaLions at Central California Heat, 2 p.m.


  • OTHER

U.S. OPEN CUP
FIRST ROUND
(Games involving teams from local leagues)
This week's games (all times Pacific)

Tuesday
Fresno Fuego (PDL) at Stanislaus United Turlock Express (U.S. Club Soccer), 7 p.m.
Ventura County Fusion (PDL) vs. Fullerton Rangers (NPSL) at Santa Ana Stadium, 7:15 p.m.
Cal FC (USASA) at Kitsap Pumas (PDL), 7:15 p.m.
PSA Elite (USASA) at Portland Timbers U-23 (PDL), 7:30 p.m.

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