With the Orange County Pateadores announcement that they would be forced to forfeit the last three matches of the season, we explore the impact this has on playoff qualifications for the West Region’s Southern Flight.
The clear winner is FC Hasental who will get a free three points - enough to almost assuredly hand them first place in the Southern Division. Orange County had kept Hasental from receiving full points in both previous matchups this season, which both ended in draws. If Orange County had managed another draw or dealt Hasental a defeat, this would have greatly aided their own title hopes as well as Santa Clarita’s.
Incidentally, Santa Clarita also pick three points from Orange County - whom they lost to twice earlier in the season. Santa Clarita currently trails Hasental by 4 points, and even though the three points are a boost, the fact that Hasental will get three free voids this contribution to Santa Clarita and in fact makes it impossible for the second place Storm to move into first place - even they manage to knock off Hasental and the San Diego Flash in their remaining two contests.
The real loser is the San Diego Flash who unlike Hasental and Santa Clarita defeated Orange County twice out of three meetings. Because of the free points being awarded to first place Hasental and second place Santa Clarita, the Flash now have no hope of taking over the title, even should they win each of their last two matches. Further, heading into last weekend the San Diego and Santa Clarita were tied on points, with the tie-breaker going to San Diego on goal differential. Santa Clarita leaped clear of the Flash with the forfeit victory while San Diego only managed a draw with last place San Diego Boca. The Flash will likely pick up three points this weekend against Las Vegas, but could find themselves still on the outside of a playoff spot if Santa Clarita defeats Hasental this weekend. This would take the playoff race down to the season finale in which the Flash will host the Storm in San Diego. Should that be the case, Santa Clarita could advance with win or draw while San Diego could only advance with a win.
Essentially, the Orange County forfeits have big playoff implications. Hasental suddenly finds that they have clinched the division (and a playoff spot) while the the Flash find themselves in a situation where they almost have to win each of their remaining matches. Santa Clarita will be disappointed that they don’t have a shot at the title, but have less pressure than San Diego to win both of their remaining matches and still claim the last playoff spot.
And while San Diego Boca will also pick up a forfeit victory, the extra points really only mean that Boca might be able to finish second to last instead of last.
FC Hasental scored 4 second half goals to rally past the Fresno Fuego Future and guarantee themselves a spot in the first round of the US Open Cup. FC Hasental will now travel to PDL side Ventura County Fusion for the first round match on May 14th.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Revolution outlasted a determined Colorado Rovers squad in penalty kicks after playing to a grueling 1-1 draw through extra time. With the victory Georgia won the right to host the Real Colorado Foxes (PDL) with the winner slated to face the Atlanta Silverbacks in the second round.
For in depth coverage of the US Open Cup go to TheCup.us.
The 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup will feature 8 NPSL clubs: Georgia Revolution and FC Hasental will each feature in a play in match while FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic, Brooklyn Italians, Chattanooga FC, New York Red Bulls U23′s, Madison 56ers, and Sacramento Gold will enter in the 1st round. Here is the draw:
Georgia Revolution @ Colorado Rovers (USSSA): Georgia Revolution qualify for their second consecutive tournament and will be forced to travel to Colorado for a play in match to decide who will face the Real Colorado Foxes (PDL) in the first round. Last year the Revolution knocked off PDL club Mississippi Brilla 1-0 in the first round before falling to the Atlanta Silverback’s of the NASL 0-1 in a closely contested match. The Rovers have the distinction of being the first United States Specialty Sports Association club to enter the Open Cup after winning a 16 team play-in tournament.
FC Hasental @ Fresno Fire Future (US Club Soccer): FC Hasental feature in their first Open Cup after winning the NPSL West Region qualifying tournament this spring. Fresno Fire Future, according to TheCup.us are the US Club Soccer side of the better known PDL Fresno Fire. The winner of the play in match will travel to play Ventura County Fusion (PDL) who advanced to the third round last year after defeating NPSL’s Fullerton Rangers (now OC Pateadores) and USL Pro side LA Blues in the first and second rounds respectively before falling 1-0 to Chivas USA.
FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic @ Reading United AC (PDL): FC LVU Sonic enters the competition for a second consecutive time, only this year with the distinction of being the reigning NPSL champion. FC Sonic will hope to improve on last year’s first round loss to the Long Island Rough Riders of the PDL. Reading United are entering the competition for a 5th consecutive time. Last year they defeated NY Greek American Atlas before losing 2-1 to the Charleston Battery (USL Pro).
Icon FC (USASA) @ Brooklyn Italians: Two time Open Cup champions Brooklyn Italians will host first time entrants Icon FC of New Jersey. Last year Brooklyn defeated MPS Portland Phoenix (PDL) 3-2 in the first round before losing 0-3 to the Rochester Rhino’s (USL Pro) in the second round. Brooklyn is the only NPSL club to be hosting in the first round draw, a fact which seems suspicious in light of US Soccer’s announcement that all draws would be decided by coin toss. Statistically, this is highly unlikely. Assuming a fair coin and a total of 8 coin flips, the probability of occurrence for flipping 7 heads and 1 tails is as follows:
In other words, at approximately 3.125% this occurrence is not very likely.
Chattanooga FC @ Carolina Dynamo: Chattanooga FC return to the Cup after missing out on the 2012 addition. Chattanooga has seen great success at the NPSL level and has arguably the best (and certainly the largest) supporters of any amateur club in the country. Carolina Dynamo lost in the PDL championship to Forest City London 2-1 last year but also lost to the Agean Hawks 3-1 in last year’s Open Cup. This match-up has the potential to be one of the round’s most exciting.
New York Red Bulls U23′s @ Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL): The Red Bulls U23′s are in the tournament for the first time after a great NPSL performance last year. They will face an Ocean City club with past Open cup experience, though not since 2009. This will be another interesting match that will pit the NPSL against the PDL with implications being drawn on the quality of each league.
Madison 56ers @ Des Moines Menace (PDL): The 56ers will travel to Des Moines hoping for a different result than fellow Wisconsin NPSL club Milwaukee Bavarians achieved last year (a 3-1 loss). Both these teams boast long club histories, and neither are newcomers to the Open Cup competition. The Menace always put together a quality event, and the 56ers will not want to disappoint.
Sacramento Gold @ Portland Timbers U23′s (PDL): Sacramento enters the Cup for the first time as the other NPSL West Region tournament qualifier. They blitzed opponents by a combined margin of 10-1 and will hope that success carries over against a tough Portland team. Portland is famous for its supporter culture, and playing this match at JELD-WEN Field is sure to be a boost to the home side who will be anxious to do better than their 3-1 defeat last year at the hands of USASA’s PSA Elite.
With the exception of the Georgia Revolution v Colorado Rovers play-in match, the first round draw features some great regional cross league matches that can hopefully turn into budding regional rivalries. And despite the suspicious number of away venue draws for NPSL clubs, this years tournament is a great opportunity for the league to give a good account of itself and raise the stature of its quality in the eyes of the US soccer community. For more Open Cup information and a complete first round preview check out TheCup.us.
*Many of the statistics draw from TheCup.us and I would be remiss not to credit Josh Hakala (@joshhakala) in any piece about the US Open Cup.
San Diego Boca 0 @ OC Pateadores 8 (Southern Flight): Boca suffered a humiliating 8-0 route at the hands of Pateadores, and their woes continued off field as it is reported that Yan Skwara has stepped aside as President leaving head coach Karim Ben Mazuk with additional responsibilities. Scoring opened in the twenty-second minute and continued throughout the match as Pateadores narrowed the goal differential previously separating the from FC Hasental at the top of the table. With the victory and the weekend loss by Hasental, OC Pateadores take sole possession of first place in the flight while Boca maintain their place at the bottom along side the Las Vegas Stallions.
Sacramento Gold 3 @ San Francisco Stompers 1 (Norther Flight): For the first forty-two minutes things were going well for the Stomper’s home opener at Boxer Stadium. One minute later Sacramento were awarded a penalty, but San Francisco’s David Varela stepped up and made the save to keep things scoreless entering the break. Entering the second half San Francisco seemed unable to regroup and quickly conceded the first goal in the forty-eighth. The Stompers responded with a goal of their own ten minutes later to level at one all. The game appeared to be headed for a draw when San Francisco’s Liam Whelan was sent off in the ninety-first leaving the Stompers to finish out the match with ten men. Sacramento pressed their man advantage and managed two goals in stoppage time to secure the victory. Much better showing by San Francisco this week, but they have to secure that point with only minutes left in the game. The three points puts Sacramento in good stead heading into a bye week, but they should not feel content at how they got them. For a more in depth match report check out SoccerNation.com.
FC Hasental 1 @ FC Santa Clarita Storm 2 (Southern Flight): Santa Clarita continues to surprise and this week downs FC Hasental to jump into second place in the Southern Flight only one point behind undefeated OC Pateadores. The Storm notched the first goal in fourteenth minute taking advantage of Hasental’s poor defending. They started the second half the same way and made it 2-0 in the forty-seventh. It looked as though Santa Clarita might shut out the prolific Hasental offense, but a bad challenge in the box awarded Hasental the penalty which was easily converted. This is an important victory for Santa Clarita as they try and gain some separation from the rest of the flight, and it highlights the defensive cracks Hasental has shown - and will need to fix if they want to seriously challenge Pateadores.
San Diego Flash 5 @ Las Vegas Stallions 0 (Southern Flight): The spark finally came in the twenty-seventh minute and the Flash offense exploded with three goals in four minutes to go up 3-0 before halftime. The Flash continued to dominate possession and added two more in the fiftieth and seventy-second minutes to put the game out of reach. The Flash remain in fourth place in the flight, but the win brings them within one point of third place Hasental. Las Vegas continued to struggle and remain at the bottom of the table.
CD Aguiluchos USA 1 @ Sonoma County Sol 3: Aguiluchos scored first in the seventeenth, but conceded a penalty a minute later to hand the equalizer to the Sol. With the momentum from the goal Sonoma County tallied another less than two minutes later to go ahead 2-1. The nail in the coffin came in the sixty-seventh on a through ball to Tyler Hurst who blasted a shot into the roof of the goal. With the win Sonoma County lead the Northern Flight with ten points. Sacramento Gold are second (9) followed by Real San Jose (7), CD Aguiluchos USA (3) and San Francisco Stompers (0).
Miami United 2 @ Cape Coral Hurricanes 2: In Sunshine Flight action Miami United traveled to Cape Coral to take on the Hurricanes for the second leg of the Everglades Cup. The first leg saw Miami score almost at will and take the match 6-0. This time, the Hurricanes were ready and scored just ten minutes in to take the lead 1-0. Cape Coral added a second just eleven minutes later in the twenty-first to go up 2-0. Miami continued to pressure and scored with thirty seconds left in the first half to bring the score to 2-1 heading into halftime. Cape Coral stayed strong most of the second half but again gave up a critical goal in stoppage time to end the match in a 2-2 draw. Miami United leads the 4 leg Everglade Cup series 4 points to Cape Coral’s 1.
Junior Lone Star v Hosa FC: Junior Lone Star FC traveled to North Carolina for a two match series against Hosa FC. Lone Star continued a solid pre-season performance posting a 2-0 win in the first leg and a 2-1 win in the second leg.
OK City FC (PDL) v LFC Warriors: The Liverpool Warriors faced Oklahoma City FC of the PDL in a pre-season tune up match. It was a high scoring affair for both sides and ended in 4-4 draw.
Alongside of the weekly ‘Weekend in Review’ column posted on Mondays, I am adding a weekly match prediction column to be posted each Friday ahead of the weekend games.
Sacramento Gold @ San Francisco Stompers (Northern Flight): After three consecutive road losses the Stompers will host the Gold in their home opener at Boxer Stadium. The Stompers have struggled at both ends of the pitch this season, scoring only three goals while allowing twelve. Last weeks two goal performance against Sonoma County Sol was a marked improvement, and if they can repeat it - without the giving up the soft goals - they stand a chance of at least drawing a strong Sacramento side that is coming off of back to back wins against table leader Real San Jose and league newcomer CD Aguiluchos USA. My prediction for this match is a 3-0 win for Sacramento.
FC Hasental @ FC Santa Clarita (Southern Flight): Santa Clarita enters the game with momentum from a quality road victory over the San Diego Flash last week that puts them within one point of table leaders Hasental and OC Pateadores. Hasental and Pateadores played to a grueling 2-2 draw last weekend that saw Pateadores score the go ahead goal late into the second half while playing down man only to have Hasental equalize in stoppage time. Neither has defense has been spectacular over the first three games, though both have been sufficient. I anticipate another high scoreline with FC Hasental winning 4-2.
San Diego Flash @ Las Vegas Stallions (Southern Flight): San Diego will be looking to climb the table with a victory over the winless Stallions, who will be looking to build on the point gleaned from a 0-0 draw against San Diego Boca last week. The Flash have so far under performed this season after losing several key players from last years squad, but I expect they will handle Las Vegas without too many problems. Final score 2-0.
CD Aguiluchos USA @ Sonoma County Sol (Northern Flight): The enigmatic and unpredictable Aguiluchos travel to Sonoma County to take on a strong Sol side. Aguiluchos have struggled to score with all four of their goals coming in the lone victory over San Francisco - a trend I expect to continue against the Sol. Always strong at home, I predict a 3-1 win for the Sol.
San Diego Boca FC @ OC Pateadores: OC Pateadores has made the most of a re-branding effort and undefeated after three regular season matches. Boca are at the other end of the spectrum, winless still after a 0-0 draw with Las Vegas. The Pateadores defense has been stifling, and they nearly emerged with a victory last week over the highly touted FC Hasental offense - playing a portion of the match with only 10 men. San Diego will struggle to penetrate Pateadores defense, I predict a 2-0 win for the Pats.
Miami United @ Cape Coral Hurricanes (Sunshine Flight): This will be the second leg of the Everglades Cup as well as the final match of the pre-season for these two clubs. The first leg saw Miami cruise to a 6-0 shutout over Cape Coral. Miami may very well be the most underestimated side in the NPSL this season as they have quietly assembled a professional squad. I anticipate this leg will yield a similar result, as Cape Coral have struggled to score all against NPSL competition having also been defeated by a 2-0 margin by the Tampa Marauders on two occasions this pre-season. Prediction: 5-0 in favor of Miami United.
Junior Lone Star FC @ Hosa FC (Non-league pre-season friendly): Junior Lone Star continue their full pre-season line up by travelling to North Carolina for a 2 game series against Hosa FC. Lone Star have posted some good results so far this pre-season and will hope to solidify a starting 11 this weekend.
Regular season action continued in the West Regions while several South and Northeast Region clubs continue to finalize rosters and hold pre-season friendlies in anticipation of their May start.
The Sunshine Flight (South Region) saw the second leg of the Gulf Coast Cup as hosts Tampa Marauders defeated the Cape Coral Hurricanes by the same 2 - 0 margin as the first leg. Cape Coral has now been held scoreless in three consecutive matches versus NPSL opponents (vs. Tampa 2-0, 2-0, and vs. Miami United 6-0).
The West Region slate was full and the action intense as every match ended with only a goal difference or less. In the Southern Flight the Santa Clarita Storm soured the home opener of San Diego Flash and leapfrogged them in the standings to claim sole possession of third place. The West region also saw a battle of the undefeated as FC Hasental hosted OC Pateadores in a thrilling 2 - 2 draw. OC Pateadores proved their mettle by going ahead 2 - 1 late in the game and playing with only 10 men, but the high octane Hasental offense wasn’t to be held to one goal and scored the equalizer deep into stoppage time to salvage the draw. The teams remain tied atop the Flight, though Hasental leads in goal differential by a significant margin. At the other end of the table the Las Vegas Stallions notched their first league point holding visitors San Diego Boca FC to a scoreless draw. After a blowout in their opening match the Stallions have have progressively improved, though the point is also the first for a SD Boca side that has a long way to go to live up to pre-season expectations.
In the Northern Flight (Golden Gate Conference) table leaders Real San Jose suffered their first loss away at Sacramento Gold in a hotly contested match which is being protested by Real San Jose. Blood was drawn after a reckless Sacramento challenge only minutes into the match, which set the stage for the rest of the game. With the win, Sacramento creeps into third place only one point behind Real San Jose and Sonoma County with a game in hand over San Jose. Rounding out the Golden Gate action the Sonoma County Sol hosted the San Francisco Stompers. Having been outscored in their first two matches 9-1, San Francisco had significant work to do on both ends of the field to come away with a victory. The Stompers did well until the 44th minute when Sonoma tallied their first to take a 1 - 0 lead into halftime. San Francisco returned from the break and equalized early in the 50th minute only to to give up an own goal and a penalty kick within the next five minutes to give Sonoma a 3-1 lead. San Francisco kept pressing and pulled one goal back in the 82nd, but couldn’t get any closer as the match finished with a final score of San Francisco 2 Sonoma County 3.
Back on the East Coast, Junior Lone Star FC played friendlies away at Mid-Atlantic expansion club Chesterfield United and to aspiring NPSL club Electric City in Scranton, PA. Junior Lone Star scored the only goal of the match vs. Chesterfield in the 15th minute and held off several quality attacks and a penalty kick to seal the victory 1 - 0. The match versus Electric City proved a bit more exciting with a flurry of second half action. Lone Star took the lead just before the break in the 44th minute. Electric City came back from half time and equalized, only to go down again after another Lone Star goal. JLSFC’s lead was short lived however as Electric City capitalized on a poorly handled back pass to make it a 2 - 2 game. Lone Star was finished, and scored the final goal of the match in the 85th minute to clinch the game 3 - 2.
Junior Lone Star returns to pre-season action next weekend with a pair of friendlies against Hosa FC before they travel to Greater Binghamton FC on May 11th for their season opener.
In other news around the league:
- Mark Lavery of the Georgia Revolution signed a professional contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL.
- Daniel Casey has a new NPSL Weekly column at Soccer Newsday.
- Jersey City Eagles have relocated and re-branded as the Clarkstown SC Eagles. Click the link for the full story published last week.
Weekend scores from around the league:
- Tampa Marauders bounced back from a 2 - 4 loss to Warner University by defeating the University of Tampa 2 - 1.
- Junior Lone Star FC played to a thrilling 3 - 3 draw against Debamu FC in a pre-season friendly match that saw two stoppage time goals.
- Real San Jose stays atop the Northern Flight of the West Region with a 2 - 2 draw against Sonoma County Sol. Both teams remain undefeated, and Sonoma has a game in hand.
- Orange County Pateadores continues to impress with a 2 - 0 victory over the San Diego Flash in what is being billed as game one of the Freeway Series. Pateadores is currently tied for 1st with FC Hasental in the Southern Flight of the West Region.
- Reports are in and the word on the street is that Miami United has managed to sign a number of ex-professionals to their squad. Miami United reportedly dispatched the Cape Coral Hurricanes by a final score of 6 - 0 in the first leg of the Everglades Cup.
- Santa Clarita Storm outgunned the Las Vegas Stallions 5 - 4 in a goal fest. Coming off of an embarrassing double digit loss, Las Vegas put in a respectable showing despite another loss.
- San Francisco Stompers 0 - 4 CD Aguiluchos USA: Aguiluchos crammed all four goals into the first half of play to notch their first win of the season against San Francisco. San Francisco will need to make some adjustments in order to avoid finishing bottom of the table for another season.
- FC Hasental continued an undefeated streak started during Open Cup qualifying with a 5 - 4 win over San Diego Boca FC. The win keeps FC Hasental tied for first with OC Pateadores in the Southern Flight of the West Region, though Hasental currently holds the tie-breaker on goal differential.
- Electric City FC add home match vs. Junior Lone Star FC for summer program
- The NPSL has renamed its ‘divisions’ as ‘flights’. This is a much welcomed change that will hopefully clarify some of the past confusion over what constitutes regions/divisions/conferences. Thus a team will play in a flight which is in turn a part of a region (for example, the Sunshine Flight is a part of the South Region).
- Armando Gaitan of FC Hasental has received the NPSL Player of the Week award for the week ending April 7th.
Several teams around the league had busy weekends, here is a review from around the league:
US Open Cup Qualifying
- The San Diego Flash came back from a two goal deficit to defeat local rival San Diego Boca FC 4-2 and advance in Open Cup qualifying. Stephen Prendergast has the full match review over at soccernation.com.
- FC Hasental overcame an early one goal deficit to claim victory over the Santa Clarita Storm. After an even first half FC Hasental took control in the second and tallied the game winner in the 59th minute. The final score was 2-1. A full match write up is available via Santa Clarita here or here via FC Hasental.
- FC Hasental will face the San Diego Flash on March 30th for a ‘win and you’re in’ match.
- Greater Binghamton FC traveled to Syracuse, NY and defeated LeMoyne College 2-0 in Binghamton’s first match of the pre-season.
NPSL Alumni Go Pro
- According to goupper90.com FC Buffalo’s Mike Reidy and Josh Faga have both signed with the Rochester Rhino’s.
- Former Junior Lone Star forward Anthony Allison is on trial with Swedish 1st division club Umea FC after two seasons in the 2nd division. Check out the full story here.
- Former Erie Admirals defender Adam Clement signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps.