Los Angeles Soccer: Cal FC

LOCALS: Wynalda takes Atlanta job

July, 3, 2012
7/03/12
3:34
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Cal FC's stirring U.S. Open Cup run has given Eric Wynalda the first step toward the coaching job he covets. He's taken charge of the Atlanta Silverbacks, the last-place team in the second-division NASL, on an interim basis.

Eric Wynalda
Steven Bisig/US PresswireEric Wynalda took the head coaching job in Atlanta in the NASL, but he's essentially there to find a permanent replacement.

Wynalda, a Hall of Fame striker from Westlake Village, replaces head coach Alex Piñeda Chacon and director of soccer Rodrigo Rios, but it's not a permanent move. Wynalda last week told ESPN Los Angeles that he is merely a careholder coach -- he will lead the search for a full-time boss -- but he figures to serve the Silverbacks (1-5-8) as an adviser moving forward.

Wynalda guided Cal FC to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup -- with a surprise victory over Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers included. He previously lobbied for head-coaching jobs with Chivas USA and Chicago.

“I’m absolutely thrilled for this opportunity with the Silverbacks. It was truly one that I didn’t want to pass up,” Wynalda, also an on-air analyst for Fox Soccer Channel's international coverage, said in a statement. “This is a case of an underperforming team, and I’m honored that the club chose me to take on the challenge of turning things around and helping the Silverbacks fulfill their potential on the field.”

Atlanta, which has played in whichever league served as America's second division all but two years since 1995, has made the playoffs only three times in 15 seasons. It went 4-20-4 last year and is winless at home (0-4-3) this season.

The Silverbacks play Tuesday against Carolina and Saturday at Minnesota. Wynalda will make his debut in a July 14 home game against the Puerto Rico Islanders.

Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:

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LOCALS: Steres makes jump from PDL

June, 12, 2012
6/12/12
8:48
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IRVINE -- Daniel Steres was drafted by Chivas USA, spent a month in camp with the Seattle Sounders, and has been a force -- in the back or anchoring the midfield -- as the Ventura County Fusion have turned the Premier Development League's Southwest Division into their own playground.

Now he's back with the Sounders, taking the next step in his journey to being a full-fledged professional.

Steres (Calabasas/Calabasas HS), who starred at San Diego State, was taken by Seattle in last week's college-waiver draft and headed over the weekend to Washington.

“We're getting the contract [sorted out], and then working my way up to get a starting role, obviously,” Steres told ESPN Los Angeles after the Fusion's 2-1 victory Friday evening over Orange County Blue Star. “Sounds like they're excited to have me come in. I'm excited to go in.”

Steres, probably a center back or right back in MLS, lost out in numbers games during preseason at Chivas and, after his release by the Goats, in Seattle. He's been superb for the Fusion, bolstering the backline next to Mickey Daly (Cal State L.A.) or Tim Pontius (Yorba Linda/Servite HS and UC Santa Barbara) or teaming with former Chivas USA/Portland Timbers midfielder Rodrigo Lopez (Santa Barbara/Santa Barbara HS) in central midfield.

The Fusion (6-1-1) are atop the Southwest Division after rallying for a 2-1 win against Blue Star at Concordia University. Travis Bowen (Van Nuys/Chatsworth HS), the older brother of Chivas USA forward Tristan Bowen, scored both goals -- his fourth and division-best fifth of the season -- with the winner coming in the 76th minute.

Ventura is one point ahead of FC Tucson, which visits the Fusion next weekend.

Pontius, the younger brother of D.C. United midfielder Chris Pontius, also is getting some MLS attention. The big center back, a Sounders draft pick, has been in camp the past week with the Galaxy. He says playing with the Fusion has helped prepare him.

“College is one thing,” he said. “College prepares you for the next step. This is kind of the in-between phase between college and pros. You've got a lot of players here who can make the next step.”

He said his time with Sounders in preseason was “spectacular.”

“Unfortunately, it didn't work out for me, but at the end, I gained a lot of experience out of that opportunity,” Pontius said. “Spots were tight there, so there's only so much you can do. You play your game, if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. You try the next one.”

Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:

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CHIVAS: Cardozo responds to challenge

June, 8, 2012
6/08/12
4:52
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CARSON -- Chivas USA's coaches issued a challenge to Paolo Cardozo as the team returned to full-time training this week, something along the lines of let's see something more concrete from all that skill.

The Argentine midfielder obliged them Friday morning, putting on a clinic to steer the Goats to a 3-1 MLS Reserve League victory over San Jose on one of the training fields west of Home Depot Center's stadium.

Paolo Cardozo
Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireAfter performing well in a reserve game, Paolo Cardozo hopes to join Chivas USA's regular lineup soon.

He scored two goals, drew the penalty kick for the third, and played with a joie de vivre that ought to have everyone in red and white stripes smiling broadly. Might Cardozo, who arrived from the Galaxy two months ago, be ready to join Chivas' attacking revolution?

“I think today he's put in his best effort since he's been here,” assistant coach Greg Vanney said. “He was dangerous -- he was goal-dangerous. ... For him, it's getting him to think about the goal and think about the final product and not just about possessing around the field.”

Possession-wise, few can match Cardozo, a 22-year-old Uruguayan born magician who came to the Galaxy last year on loan from Quilmes and was sent down the hall when L.A., in dire need of backline help, came calling for David Junior Lopes -- who, by the way, dropped by to watch some of Friday's action.

Cardozo had the best foot skills on the Galaxy, but a pretty good margin, and to watch him weave through foes in tight spaces is something truly to behold. If the chief aim in the game were to weave through players in limited space, he'd be Lionel Messi.

That skill has never translated into production, one reason the Galaxy found him expendable -- and why Chivas, as it has added dynamic young attacking talent (with, especially, Jose Erik Correa and Juan Agudelo), has used him in only three of 10 first-team games since his arrival.

“We challenged him over the last few days,” Vanney said. “He's crafty in possession and can speed around, but at the end of the day, as an attacking midfielder you have to have final product. ... Today he definitely had some good looks.”

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MLS Power Rankings: No upset here

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
3:40
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Upsets are good for the U.S. Open Cup, so Major League Soccer's difficulties this year parsing through the competition has made for a more exciting and substantial tournament. More steps toward that should be taken.

Soccer by its nature often rewards underdogs: Cal FC's victory over Portland, given the disparity in possession and number of chances, would be impossible in any other major sport (and perhaps any “minor” sport, too), but who didn't enjoy the Thousand Oaks' club's inspirational run to the fourth round -- the Timbers and their fans aside?

Andy Rose, Jesus Gonzalez
Steven Bisig/US PresswireSeattle's Andy Rose, left, battles against Cal FC midfielder Jesus Gonzalez during Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup game.

Nine MLS clubs, of 16 in the Open Cup, lost to teams from lower divisions, with the Chicago Fire also falling to an amateur team (the Premier Development League's Michigan Bucks). That's what makes the event work. If MLS could sweep aside teams from the second division (North American Soccer League), third division (USL Pro), fourth division (PDL) and lower (U.S. Adult Soccer Association, from which Cal FC came), there's no point to the Cup. Just hold an MLS League Cup.

It would be nice to see a truly blind draw (the pairings are regionalized), and that includes the third-round games, which are tournament openers for MLS clubs. Why can't MLS teams be drawn to play other MLS teams right off the bat? The format favors the big league in that if there were no upsets, all 16 fourth-round teams would be from MLS. How is this a plus?

The best stories in this tournament, the ones we'll remember when it's done, are Cal FC's and the Harrisburg City Islanders'. The USL Pro side's miraculous three-goal comeback in overtime to oust New England in the third round was the game of the Cup. Tuesday night's fourth-round win over New York, also in overtime, had everything going for it: drama, controversy, a stunning end included.

Five MLS teams survived to the June 26 quarterfinals -- Chivas USA, San Jose, Seattle (winner of the last three Open Cups), Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia -- and it's set up so only one (the Earthquakes-Sounders victor) is guaranteed a semifinal spot. That's about perfect, even if there are no further upsets. And it's likely there won't be. Only once since MLS's 1996 arrival has the tournament winner not been an MLS club. Only three times have both finalists not been from MLS.

The quarterfinal slate:

Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at Chivas USA (MLS)
Seattle Sounders (MLS) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at Philadelphia Union (MLS)

Our bet for the semis: Chivas vs. Seattle (a rematch of the 2010 semifinals) and Sporting-Harrisburg. Yes, we're going to go with another upset by the City Islanders, who have an official affiliation with Philly.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-2, 29 points), Last Week: 1
Week 13:
Idle.
Latest: Garden Grove's Gil out four weeks with an MCL sprain picked up with the U.S. U-20s.
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22).

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-3-2, 26 points), LW: 2
Week 13:
Red Bulls fall in overtime to the Harrisburg City Islanders, their second Open Cup loss in three years against the USL Pro club.
Latest: New York treats the Open Cup like a serious competition, unlike last year. Fails to reach the quarterfinals, unlike last year. (Dropped second game in the tournament, just like last year.)
2011 friendlies: July 31 vs. Tottenham (England).
Next: Sunday, June 17 at Chicago, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (8-3-1, 25 points), LW: 3
Week 13:
Teal Bunbury wraps a a 2-0 Open Cup fourth-round win over Colorado.
Latest: Aurelien Collin's opener in the Open Cup win taken away, changed to a Matt Pickens own goal.
2011 friendlies: Aug. 1 vs. Stoke City (England).
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

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OPEN CUP: Cal FC runs out of steam

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
11:20
PM PT

Cal FC/SoundersSteven Bisig/US PresswireCal FC defender Michael Randolph falls as Sounders forward Sammy Ochoa takes a shot.


Cal FC caught the fancy of fans across the country -- across the globe -- with its unfathomable run through the U.S. Open Cup, and the Thousand Oaks-based amateur club did its best to give the mighty Seattle Sounders a battle Tuesday night.

It managed to do so for a little more than a half, but a penalty kick opened the gates, and the Major League Soccer powerhouse poured in five goals over roughly 20 minutes to cruise to a 5-0 fourth-round triumph in Tukwila, Wash.

Osvaldo Alonso and Fredy Montero scored two goals apiece and the Sounders, winners of the last three trophies in the 99-year-old tournament, outshot Cal FC, 28-4, to romp into a quarterfinal showdown June 26 against the San Jose Earthquakes in San Francisco.

“I think we bit off more than we could chew, and, obviously, Seattle is a fantastic team,” Cal FC manager Eric Wynalda said afterward on Fox Soccer Channel's coverage of the match. “We were talking about it at halftime: Would we be able to stay with them? We got a little unfortunate with the penalty kick -- that certainly didn't help -- but [the Sounders are a] classy team, and I expect Seattle to be a contender to win this whole thing again.”

It was scoreless until the 50th minute, when a Montero blast struck Beto Navarro's arm, and Alonso barely beat Cal goalkeeper Derby Castillo to the left post.

The Sounders already were in charge by that point, but Cal FC -- a veteran group of undervalued players, most of them pros, that Wynalda put together in February -- gave an admirable performance, holding off repeated Seattle attacks and moving the ball around nicely without penetrating Seattle's defense. Castillo, midfielder Pablo Cruz and defender Jesus Gonzalez were solid all night.

“We weren't happy with some of the things we did [in the first half], but [Cal FC] played well,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid told FSC, which employs Wynalda as an on-air analyst and served as jersey sponsor for his team Tuesday night. “We weren't worried about a lot in front of our goal, but they did a good job of keeping possession, spreading the ball around. They're quick, they're technical, they're a good team.”

Cal FC managed just one shot on goal -- a 17th-minute Danny Barrera drive off of a corner kick sent straight at Seattle goalkeeper Bryan Meredith -- and never looked particularly dangerous.

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OPEN CUP: Cal FC eyes another upset

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
1:24
PM PT

Since last week's stunning overtime upset of the Portland Timbers, Thousand Oaks' Cal FC has become a cause célèbre, drawing worldwide attention and comparisons to “Hoosiers” and “Rocky” while opening doors to professional careers for its best players, the whole point all along.


That was this ragtag band of amateurs' third successive U.S. Open Cup victory over professional opposition, and Tuesday night they'll look for No. 4 against a true powerhouse: three-time defending tournament champion Seattle Sounders.

Eric Wynalda, the Hall of Fame striker who put the side together, can't wait. And he won't be surprised if his team again does the unthinkable.

“We match up much better against Seattle than Portland,” Wynalda told ESPN Los Angeles. “A lot of people are saying we have no chance in hell, but from a practical standpoint -- from a game, a matchup -- I'd play Seattle 10 times before I'd play Portland again.”

That's about approach. The Timbers are a direct, battling team. The Sounders prefer a flowing brand of soccer, with possession and passing -- the pretty stuff, which is Cal FC's aim, too.

“The game will have an ebb and flow to it,” Wynalda said. “Two very technically sound teams. It's not going to be a case of just sitting back and trying to hold them off.”

That's what was required in last week's third-round clash. Portland took 43 shots and created more than a dozen good scoring opportunities, but Artur Aghasyan's counterattack goal five minutes into the extra period made Cal FC the biggest upset victor in the 99-year-old competition since MLS clubs arrived on the scene in the mid-'90s.

Cal FC has the talent -- more than a half-dozen players have been in camp with MLS teams, several others have pro experience in lower divisions or foreign leagues -- but nearly everyone on the roster has fallen through cracks while pursuing their dreams. Wynalda, who has extensive coaching experience and covets a chance to run an MLS team, created the team merely to provide them opportunity.

“If these guys aren’t with professional teams in August, then I didn’t do my job,” he said in a conference call Monday. “The idea was to showcase them. First to find them, then give them a chance and let them play and let them show what we can do.”

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Chivas could be coming home

June, 2, 2012
6/02/12
2:31
PM PT

Chivas USA is one victory away from its first home game in this year's U.S. Open Cup, as long as things also go the right way down in Texas in Tuesday's fourth round.


The Goats would play their June 25 quarterfinal match at Home Depot Center against the third-division Charlotte Eagles if both advance.

If Thousand Oaks' Cal FC can overcome another Major League Soccer foe, it might get a third, with a date against the San Jose Earthquakes in San Francisco.

U.S. Soccer on Saturday released the pairings for the quarterfinals. Chivas takes on the second-tier Carolina RailHawks in a round-of-16 game in Cary, N.C., and Cal FC, fresh off its upset of the Portland Timbers, faces three-time defending Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders in Tukwila, Wash.

Chivas also could travel to San Antonio to take on the Scorpions, a first-year team in the second-division North American Soccer League. San Antonio will be home Tuesday against Charlotte, a USL Pro side, and the likeliest results -- note the 99th edition of the Open Cup has had plenty of unlikely results -- would send the Goats to Texas.

Cal FC, if victorious, would play the Minnesota Stars in Blaine, Minn., if the NASL team upsets San Jose on Tuesday night at Stanford University. The Quakes plan to play their quarterfinal at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

Chivas has played only two home Open Cup home games, neither at HDC. It lost on penalties to Texas amateurs FC Roma in Santa Barbara in 2006 and beat the second-tier Austin Aztex, 1-0, at Cal State Fullerton two years ago. The Goats lost in their tournament debut, in 2005, to the Galaxy at HDC's Track and Field Stadium. It was L.A.'s home game.

Here are the quarterfinal assignments (all times Pacific):
  • Chivas USA (MLS)/Carolina RailHawks (NASL) at San Antonio Scorpions (NASL), 5:30 p.m.; or Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at Chivas USA (MLS), 7:30 p.m./Carolina RailHawks (NASL), 4:07 p.m.
  • Cal FC (USASA)/Seattle Sounders (MLS) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), 8 p.m./Minnesota Stars (NASL), 5:30 p.m.
  • New York Red Bulls (MLS)/Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at D.C. United (MLS)/Philadelphia Union (MLS), 4:30 p.m.
  • Michigan Bucks (PDL)/Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS), 5:30 p.m./Colorado Rapids (MLS), 6 p.m.

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OPEN CUP: Cal FC tuned in for Sounders

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
9:36
PM PT
The stunning U.S. Open Cup run by Thousand Oaks' Cal FC has caught attention around the globe, and when Eric Wynalda's sort-of amateurs take on their second Major League Soccer foe next week, the cameras will be there.

Fox Soccer announced on its Twitter account Thursday that Tuesday's fourth-round game, with Cal FC taking on three-time defending Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders in Tukwila, Wash., will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel. The game is not yet listed on the programming schedule.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Wynalda, the Hall of Fame forward who put together a team of mostly unaffiliated pros for this Open Cup run, is an analyst on Fox Soccer's broadcasts. So is Nick Webster, who works with the team and has served as head coach when Wynalda has been on assignment.

Cal FC stunned the Portland Timbers, 1-0, on Artur Aghasyan's overtime goal Tuesday night in a third-round game, the first time a U.S. Adult Soccer Association side has beaten an MLS team in the 17 years the first-division league has existed. The Open Cup is America's oldest and most prestigious tournament, dating to 1913.

The Ventura County club, which features nine players with professional experience and five with some sort of MLS connection, opened the tournament two weeks ago with a 3-1 victory at Premier Development League champion Kitsap Pumas in Bremerton, Wash. They routed third-division pros Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads, 4-0, in the second round last week. Tuesday's winners advance to the June 26 quarterfinals.

Chivas USA also remains alive in the Open Cup and will play the Carolina RailHawks in Cary, N.C., on Tuesday. The match, which begins at 4:07 p.m. PT, will be streamed on the RailHawks' website.

OPEN CUP: Cal FC stuns Timbers

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
11:36
PM PT

Cal FC celebrationLeah Parr/Portland Timbers Cal FC players celebrate with Artur Aghasyan after his overtime goal against the Portland Timbers.


Cal FC's stirring run through the U.S. Open Cup hadn't been all that unexpected -- this is a team filled with pros, remember, even if they're amateurs here, or at least close to it.

But what the Thousand Oaks club pulled off Wednesday night defied belief.

Artur Aghasyan finished a breakaway five minutes into overtime, and Cal FC fended off wave after wave of attacks by the Portland Timbers to stun the Major League Soccer side, 1-0, in a third-round clash at Jeld-Wen Field, a result that shook the foundations of American soccer.

Eric Wynalda's side was outshot, 43-11, conceded 11 corner kicks and dodged more than a dozen bullets to pull off what might be the greatest upset in this country's premier knockout tournament since MLS's formation 16 years ago.

The reward: a showdown next week in Tukwila, Wash., with three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders, which routed the second-tier Atlanta Silverbacks, 5-1, on Wednesday to advance to the round of 16.

"I think we are the ultimate Cinderella story -- that's for sure," Wynalda told reporters in Portland. "A bunch of misfit kids who did something unbelievable. This is what this Cup is about."

Cal FC is the first U.S. Adult Soccer Association team to defeat an MLS club in the Open Cup, although Texas' Roma FC toppled Chivas USA on penalties following a 0-0 third-round draw in 2006. The Galaxy took care of the amateurs in the following round.

Timbers Army, Portland's fanatical supporters group, serenaded Cal FC when it was over with chants of “You deserve it!” and “Beat Seattle!” The game drew 5,489 fans to the stadium a few blocks west of downtown Portland.

Wynalda, a veteran of three World Cups and a star striker in Germany and in MLS, had on his mind the UEFA Champions League final a week and a half ago in Munich, which he covered as a studio analyst for Fox Sports. Chelsea upset Bayern Munich on penalties in that one after being outshot, 43-9, and outcorner-kicked, 20-1.

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Winning just a start for Cal FC

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
2:43
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Eric WynaldaMonica M. Davey/AFP/Getty ImagesEric Wynalda back when he was scoring goals for the U.S. National Team.

Eric Wynalda, one of the finest strikers America ever produced, has built a team somewhat in his own image, and it's taking on America's soccer establishment with impressive results.

Thousand Oaks' Cal FC, a collection of misfit players with undeniable talent, have already conquered two better-fancied clubs in the 99th edition of the U.S. Open Cup, and Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, on Wednesday night, could be next.

Wynalda, a first-ballot National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee who played in three World Cups, starred in Germany and scored the first goal in MLS history, knows that it's possible.

“We didn't enter this competition because we thought this would be fun,” the former goal-getter from Westlake Village, known to a new generation of fans as an at-times acerbic commentator on Fox's soccer coverage, told ESPN Los Angeles. “We really have high hopes. We set goals, we achieve them and we re-set.”

Wynalda's got, as he puts it, “a bunch of guys that everybody knows who they are.” There's former UC Santa Barbara star Danny Barrera (Thousand Oaks/Westlake HS), who trialed with the Chicago Fire during MLS's preseason after a stint in Serbia. And there's Artur Aghasyan, who has played with Real Salt Lake and been on trial a couple of times with Chivas USA. And Richard Menjivar (Panorama City/Monroe HS), a Cal State Bakersfield standout who impressed with El Salvador's U-23s during CONCACAF's Olympic qualifiers.

UCLA alum Eder Arreola (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS), who was drafted in January by the Houston Dynamo and trained with Chivas USA, is with the club. So is former Galaxy/L.A. Blues defender Mike Randolph (Chino Hills/Ayala HS) and Cesar Rivera (Pomona/Garey HS and Mt. San Antonio College), who led the Blues in scoring last year. And goalkeeper Derby Carrillo (La Mirada/St. John Bosco HS and Cal State Dominguez Hills), whom El Salvador's national team has targeted.

And hopefuls such as Danny's brother, Diego (Thousand Oaks HS/Loyola Marymount), former U.S. youth national-teamer Pablo Cruz (Azusa), defenders Hector Espinoza (Garden Grove/Santiago HS and Santa Ana College) and Beto Navarro, and others.

They're all good players who have been overlooked or dismissed or something, and Wynalda's goal is to showcase their talents and help them find paths to the professional careers he thinks they deserve.

That's the whole point of Cal FC, which grew out of Wynalda's experiences the past couple of years working with Mexican third-tier club Murcielagos, which employed for a time current Chivas USA forward Cesar Romero.

“I think the one thing I could say,” Wynalda said, “is I have a very high opinion of some of these guys, but I'm the minority when it comes to that. People just aren't seeing what I see.”

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OPEN CUP: Fourth-round SuperClasico?

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
3:46
PM PT

Ready for another Galaxy-Chivas USA showdown? If both clubs win their U.S. Open Cup openers next week, it will happen.


U.S. Soccer's fourth-round pairings are out, and the Galaxy and Chivas are set to meet June 5 at Home Depot Center, as long as both advance. Chivas faces Premier Development League power Ventura County Fusion in a third-round game Tuesday night at Ventura College, and the Galaxy meet the Carolina RailHawks, from the second-division North American Soccer League, in Cary, N.C.

If it's the Galaxy against the Fusion, it will be played at HDC. If Carolina beats L.A., the fourth-round game will be in Cary.

Major League Soccer clubs enter the country's oldest soccer competition -- the initial games were played in 1913 -- in the third round. Ventura County has won twice in overtime, ousting USL Pro side L.A. Blues on Tuesday evening, to advance to the final 32.

The Galaxy and Chivas have played once before in the Open Cup, with L.A. cruising to a 5-2 fourth-round victory at HDC's Track and Field Stadium en route to the 2005 title. Goal scorers for the Galaxy included Cobi Jones, Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez.

The pairing was expected. Rather than a blind draw, U.S. Soccer regionalizes pairings to cut down on travel costs.

Thousand Oaks' Cal FC, a U.S. Adult Soccer Association side coached by Eric Wynalda, would play three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders in Tukwila, Wash., if it beats the Portland Timbers in the third round. No site has been determined if Cal FC and the Atlanta Silverbacks, who meet the Sounders next week, both pull off upsets.

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OPEN CUP: Wynalda's club pulls an upset

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
10:39
PM PT

Eric Wynalda put together a team with a simple, perhaps unachievable goal: win the U.S. Open Cup.


Thousand Oaks' Cal FC took another step toward that Tuesday night, routing USL Pro side Wilmington Hammerheads, 4-0, in North Carolina to advance to the third round of the nation's oldest soccer competition, in which it will face Major League opposition.

Danny Barrera scored twice from assists by his brother, Diego, and the U.S. Adult Soccer Association side earned a date next week with the Portland Timbers.

Wynalda, an American soccer legend and first-ballot National Soccer Hall of Famer from Westlake Village, was on hand to guide Cal FC after missing last week's first-round win over Premier Development League champion Kitsap Pumas while he was in Munich preparing for Fox's coverage of the UEFA Champions League final. Wynalda is a studio analyst on Fox soccer broadcasts.

“Tonight was a good demonstration of what the guys are capable of, at times good and bad,” Wynalda told the Wilmington (N.C.) StarNews. “All in all, I'm very happy with them. I think they've come together remarkably, in a very short span of time.”

The Barrera brothers hooked up in the 25th and 57th minutes, the first on a corner kick. Former Real Salt Lake forward Artur Aghasyan made it 2-0 in the 35th and Pedro Ferreira-Mendes added another on a 79th-minute free kick.

The game in Portland will be played next Wednesday.

In the other East Coast game involving a local team:

Carolina RailHawks 6, PSA Elite (Irvine) 0: The Galaxy is headed to North Carolina after the RailHawks, from the second-tier North American Soccer League, crushed the USASA Region IV champs in Cary, N.C. Carolina will be home for next Tuesday's third-round clash against the reigning MLS champion.

Brian Shriver scored a club-record six goals, with a first-half hat trick, to lead the Railhawks. Zack Schilawski and Amir Lowery also tallied for Carolina.

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OPEN CUP: Blues battle tough slate

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
1:21
AM PT

Proceeding in the U.S. Open Cup is a priority for the L.A. Blues, who enter the competition Tuesday against the Ventura County Fusion, and they'd love to take a shot next week at Chivas USA if they win.


Getting there won't be easy. The Blues (3-2-1), if they beat the Fusion in the in a second-round game at Fullerton College, face four games in eight days on two coasts. The USL Pro contests between the Open Cup dates are against two of the third-division league's best clubs, defending champion Orlando City SC (6-0-1) and Charleston Battery (4-2-0).

Something's got to give.

“I'd like a different schedule, let's leave it at that ...,” Blues head coach/general manager Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles on Monday. “Really, it is out of my control. Out of the organization's control. You can't worry about what you don't control, you just have to go out and do it. I have to decide based on what happens [Tuesday] how I want to play Thursday and Saturday. I have to choose.”

Orlando City's situation is the same as the Blues', with four games in eight days if it wins its Open Cup opener Tuesday, but the Lions would sit at home until next week's third-round game at Sporting Kansas City, provided they beat K.C. Athletics, a U.S. Adult Soccer Association side. Charleston also has an Open Cup game but plays just once on the weekend.

Naimo's approach will be fairly straightforward. Beating the Fusion is important, but it likely won't require a first-choice lineup -- Ventura, amateurs from the USL's Premier Development League is playing its fourth game in eight days -- and the goal is victory in Orlando.

“I'm thinking our guys will be up to play the defending champions,” Naimo said. “We're going after that game. We're not going in to try to steal a point. We want to win that game.”

Do so and, if the date with Chivas is on for May, the Blues “might not put in guys who won't be able to play against Charleston and Chivas. It's tough to do that. ... My goal is winning [Tuesday], have a good result against Orlando. Can't think much beyond that point.”

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OPEN CUP: Chivas gets Blues or Fusion

May, 16, 2012
5/16/12
5:28
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Major League Soccer clubs enter America's oldest soccer competition in the third round, and now they know, more or less, who they'll be playing.

U.S. Soccer on Wednesday announced pairings for the May 29 U.S. Open Cup games, and the regionalized matchups has Chivas USA staying local, although it's uncertain where the Goats will be playing, and the Galaxy's awaiting next Tuesday's second-round results to know where it will play.

Chivas was matched with the winner of the L.A. Blues-Ventura County Fusion game. If the Blues win next week's encounter, they'll be home against the Goats, playing at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium. No word on a site, or a home team, if Chivas faces the Fusion.

The Galaxy either will be home against Irvine's PSA Elite, a U.S. Adult Soccer Association team with several professional players, or in Cary, N.C., to take on the Carolina RailHawks, the second-tier North American Soccer League's only winless team.

Eric Wynalda's Cal FC, another USASA side with pro representation, would visit the the Portland Timbers if it beats the USL Pro's Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads next week.

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OPEN CUP: Fusion rout Rangers in OT

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
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SANTA ANA --It looked as if it might be easy going for the Ventura County Fusion in their U.S. Open Cup opener Tuesday night after Michael Roman and Francisco Lopez provided a two-goal lead after just 22 minutes.

It was, at the finish, but getting there was anything but simple.

The Fusion scored four goals in overtime to dismiss the Fullerton Rangers, 6-2, at Santa Ana Stadium and advance to a second-round rematch with the L.A. Blues next week in Norco. The Galaxy and Chivas USA will enter the competition, in its 99th year, in the third round the following week.

It was tougher than it should have been, especially after Roman (Oxnard/Rio Mesa HS and UCLA), who stepped on the field without a practice after arriving from spring training at the University of Louisville, finished a feed from Biola University alum Kennedy Chongo in the 17th minute, and Lopez scored from Chris Tsonis' cutback five minutes later.

Fullerton, from the National Premier Soccer League, rallied to tie the score in the first 23 minutes of the second half -- netting the equalizer while down to 10 men -- but couldn't stay with the 2009 Premier Development League champion for the extra 30 minutes.

“Unfortunately, we make things harder on ourselves than they need to be,” Fusion coach Ole Mikkelsen said. “We had a comfortable 2-nil lead at halftime. If we get the next goal, for all intents and purposes, we can play the game out. But we made two silly mistakes, let them back in the game. ... Clearly, you could see in the overtime period we had the gas and they didn't have the gas.”

Fullerton dominated the start of the second half, even after Sean Toth (Fullerton College/Hope International) was dismissed with his second yellow card in the 63rd minute. By then it was 2-1 -- former Chivas USA/New York Red Bulls forward David Arvizu (Santa Ana/Foothill HS) scored in the 55th minute -- and Cuban striker Eder Roldan netted the equalizer five minutes later with a gorgeous chip into the far-post netting.

It was all Fusion the rest of the way, but they didn't get the winner until the third minute of overtime, a Lopez penalty kick after Leobardo Alvarez, who trialed with New York during MLS's preseason, fouled Chongo, who trialed with Chivas USA.

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