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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
So Cal teams to meet in 1st round

By Scott French

L.A. Blues' organization has long had a relationship with Hollywood United FC, working together on several projects -- the L.A. Sol, co-owned by the Blues, were one -- while battling in Southern California men's leagues.

The clubs will face off on a national scale in two weeks, meeting in a U.S. Open Cup first-round clash at Riverside Community College.

It's one of two all-So Cal matchups to start the tradition-laden tournament's 98th edition as announced Wednesday by U.S. Soccer.

The Ventura County Fusion will take on South Bay-based Doxa Italia at Ventura College in another June 14 first-rounder, and the winners of the L.A.-area matches will meet in the second round June 21.

Major League Soccer clubs, including the Galaxy, enter the competition in the third round, on June 28. Because pairings for the first three rounds are based primarily on geography, the L.A. survivor likely will face the Galaxy.

The Blues, as a USL Pro side, were automatic qualifiers. The club is based in West L.A. and plays most of its home games at Cal State Fullerton, and the choice of Riverside for its Open Cup opener is another thrust at the Inland Empire market. The club is playing four league games at Centennial High School in Corona.

Hollywood United won a mini-tournament within the National Premier Soccer League's Western Division and the Fusion a similar tournament within the USL's Premier Development League's Southwest Division. Doxa Italia, which plays in Manhattan Beach, won the U.S. Amateur Soccer Association's Region IV title last month to claim a berth.

In all, 40 clubs will take part in the tournament proper. Some 155 were involved in qualifying, and one slot remains open. Defending PDL champion Portland Timbers U-23s and Kitsap Pumas will play Friday in a league match that will double as a playoff for the PDL's Northwest Division berth. Clubs from the second-tier North American Soccer League were denied entry.

The title game is slated for Oct. 4.

The Galaxy has won the tournament twice, in 2001 and 2005, and lost in two finals. Other So Cal clubs to win Open Cup are Maccabi Los Angeles, which captured the last of its five championships in 1981, and Los Angeles Kickers, who triumphed in 1958 and 1964.

MLS clubs have won all but one title since the league debuted in 1996. All but three finals in that span have been all-MLS.

FIRST ROUND
June 14

SECOND ROUND
June 21

THIRD ROUND
June 28

Eight winners vs. MLS clubs: