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Breakdown for 2011 USL PDL US Open Cup Qualifying: Eastern Conference

Posted by | April 15, 2011 | No Comments

PDL logoThe 2011 US Open Cup qualifying process for the Premier Development League begins April 30 when the Central Florida Kraze play host to Fort Lauderdale Schulz. The match marks the beginning of what is arguably the most intense opening to any league season, making it the most pressure-packed portion of the PDL schedule league-wide. The task of qualifying can be more daunting than the professional opponents awaiting them in the tournament proper.

In the upcoming edition of the tournament, the PDL will be represented by a record nine clubs after seven consecutive years with eight representatives. With nine berths available, the league will send one from each division based on four league contests that will double as qualification matches – a format long established by the parent United Soccer Leagues.

Here is the Eastern Conference portion of the four-part series of breakdowns:

Eastern Conference Qualifying Breakdown

US Open Cup qualifying for the PDL Eastern Conference, the lone conference with three divisions and berths, opens with four games on May 7 and a fifth the following evening.

A year ago, this conference, which spans the Atlantic coast from Maine to North Carolina, was basically evenly split with nine and eight-team groups. By carving out a third division, the balance has been eliminated. The new ‘metro’ Mid Atlantic division with eight teams in the greater New York City / New Jersey area and an exception from Pennsylvania has twice as many teams as its Northeast Division counterpart, which has four, and is two more than the South Atlantic, which is at six.

The most stunning result of the shifting is arguably the competitive imbalance between the divisions as the Mid Atlantic has five teams with impressive winning records over a four-year Open Cup qualifying span while the other two divisions have a combined two teams with winning records.

Mid Atlantic Division
Brooklyn Knights, Central Jersey Spartans, Jersey Express, Long Island Rough Riders, New Jersey Rangers, Ocean City Nor’easters, Reading United AC, Westchester Flames

The Ocean City Nor'easters (shown here playing against DC United in the Third Round of the 2009 US Open Cup) have qualified four times in the last seven years. They have four professional team upsets to their credit, second-most of any PDL franchise (Michigan Bucks - 7) | Photo: Bill Pellegrino, Ocean City Nor'easters

With three teams from New York and four from New Jersey, the eight-team grouping’s lone outsider is Reading United AC. The club also happens to be the side which advanced from this particular group the past two years, although the Mid Atlantic division has previously been largely comprised of teams from what is now the South Atlantic. Most of the current composition was primarily in what was then the Northeast, which sent Ocean City as its representative two years ago.

Reading leads what could be considered part of the quintet of power teams among the division with the two recent trips to the tournament and a four-year record of 11-2-3 in qualifying that hit its peak with a 4-0-0 effort last year. Matching that record were the Long Island Rough Riders, who qualified last year out of the Northeast. The five-time tournament entrants from New York also qualified in 2007 with a perfect 4-0-0 record. Last year’s two qualifiers, however, are not slated to face one another in qualifying this year in what would have been a marquee match-up.

The other three power teams are the Ocean City Nor’easters (9-2-5), Jersey Express (8-2-2) and Brooklyn Knights (7-5-4). The trio of New Jersey, Central Jersey and Westchester has just a combined seven wins between them over the past eight qualifying campaigns (last four years) as the first two are recent expansion sides.

Of the power five, the fourth-year Express are the only club that has not yet qualified for the tournament. The other four have reached the US Open Cup on 13 combined occasions.

Reading and Brooklyn kick off the division’s qualifying slate with the lone match May 7. After that, both clubs will only face one more team from the power quintet as Brooklyn takes on Long Island and Reading closes against Ocean City. Jersey also were fortunate to only find two power teams on the fixture list with games against Long Island and Ocean City, who will both have to face three of their power peers.

MID-ATLANTIC DIVISIONGPWLTPTSGFGA GFGD
Brooklyn Knights0000000 0+0
Central Jersey Spartans0000000 0+0
Jersey Express0000000 0+0
Long Island Rough Riders0000000 0+0
New Jersey Rangers0000000 0+0
Ocean City Nor’easters0000000 0+0
Reading United AC0000000 0+0
Westchester Flames0000000 0+0

Top team qualifies for the US Open Cup

Clinched Open Cup berthEliminated from contention

Note: Columns on the far right are for tiebreaker purposes

USL Premier Development League tiebreakers

(1) Head-to-head record based on total points in Open Cup qualifiers

(2) Total wins in Open Cup qualifying games

(3) Goal difference (+/- 3 goals maximum for each USOC qualifier)

(4) Goals scored (+/- 3 goals maximum for each USOC qualifier)

(5) Lottery conducted by the USL

All times Eastern

May 7Reading United ACatBrooklyn Knights7:00
May 8Westchester FlamesatNew Jersey Rangers6:00
May 11Long Island Rough RidersatBrooklyn Knights7:00
May 14Westchester FlamesatJersey Express7:00
May 15New Jersey RangersatReading United AC6:00
May 18Reading United ACatWestchester Flames7:30
May 19Central Jersey SpartansatLong Island Rough Riders8:00
May 20Ocean City Nor’eastersatReading United AC7:30
May 21Jersey ExpressatLong Island Rough Riders7:30
May 22Brooklyn KnightsatCentral Jersey Spartans4:00
May 22New Jersey RangersatOcean City Nor’easters6:00
May 25Central Jersey SpartansatNew Jersey Rangers8:00
May 27Ocean City Nor’eastersatJersey Express8:00
May 28Brooklyn KnightsatWestchester Flames7:30
May 29Long Island Rough RidersatOcean City Nor’easters6:00
May 30Jersey ExpressatCentral Jersey Spartans5:00

The Western Mass Pioneers have competed in the US Open Cup six times since they were founded in 1998.


Northeast Division
MPS Portland Phoenix, Seacoast United Phantoms, Vermont Voltage, Western Mass Pioneers

The combined win total of the last four years of PDL qualifying for the division – 10 – falls short of two individual teams in the Mid Atlantic. In this grouping everyone is basically on equal footing as no team has more than three PDL qualifying campaigns in the past four years.

MPS Portland Phoenix was an expansion team a year ago while the Western Mass Pioneers were playing their first season in the league having dropped down from the professional third division. The move down was one that the Seacoast United Phantoms (formerly New Hampshire Phantoms) had made two years prior. The Vermont Voltage, longtime PDL members, were making their return after a year’s absence from play.

The veteran trio is familiar with one another from their extensive USL history, but the Pioneers, Phantoms and Voltage have limited history meeting on competitive terms like this.

Kicking off the group’s schedule is a May 7 contest between host Portland and the Phantoms, who played to a 1-1 draw in last year’s qualifier in New Hampshire. Portland , however, would later win at home in dominating fashion, 5-0, in league play.

The smallest fixture list among the nine groups with only eight games comes to a close May 28 when the Phantoms play host to the Voltage, who swept the season series a year ago with two victories – neither of them qualifiers.

NORTHEAST DIVISIONGPWLTPTSGFGA GFGD
MPS Portland Phoenix0000000 0+0
Seacoast United Phantoms0000000 0+0
Vermont Voltage0000000 0+0
Western Mass Pioneers0000000 0+0

Top team qualifies for the US Open Cup

Clinched Open Cup berthEliminated from contention

Note: Columns on the far right are for tiebreaker purposes

USL Premier Development League tiebreakers

(1) Head-to-head record based on total points in Open Cup qualifiers

(2) Total wins in Open Cup qualifying games

(3) Goal difference (+/- 3 goals maximum for each USOC qualifier)

(4) Goals scored (+/- 3 goals maximum for each USOC qualifier)

(5) Lottery conducted by the USL

All times Eastern

May 7Seacoast United PhantomsatMPS Portland Phoenix6:00
May 14Western Mass PioneersatSeacoast United Phantoms4:00
May 14Vermont VoltageatMPS Portland Phoenix6:00
May 20Seacoast United PhantomsatWestern Mass Pioneers7:00
May 21MPS Portland PhoenixatVermont Voltage7:00
May 25Western Mass PioneersatVermont Voltage7:00
May 27MPS Portland PhoenixatWestern Mass Pioneers7:00
May 28Vermont VoltageatSeacoast United Phantoms7:00


South Atlantic Division
Carolina Dynamo, Fredericksburg Hotspur, Northern Virginia Royals, Real Maryland Monarchs, Virginia Beach Piranhas, West Virginia Chaos

The Carolina Dynamo have been around since 1993 and have competed in the US Open Cup six times since they were founded in 1993.

This grouping may be a new creation, but for four of these clubs, they are no strangers to one another. What is new is the addition of expansion Fredericksburg Hotspur and former professional third division club Real Maryland Monarchs.

The Monarchs are the newest club in this group to make the transition to the PDL. The only other two teams of the six with US Open Cup tournament experience are also former professional clubs. Along with the Carolina Dynamo and Northern Virginia Royals, the three have 12 appearances in the tournament, but only a pair of trips by the Dynamo in 2004 and 2006 came via qualifying out of the PDL. Carolina played in the tournament five times before joining the league in 2004 and Northern Virginia twice before the switch in 2006. Real Maryland has been an automatic entrant as a pro team the past three years.

Despite last qualifying for the tournament in 2006, the Dynamo have been in the running the past four years with a combined record of 9-4-2, never suffering more than one loss in each of their efforts. Located centrally along the Atlantic coast, Carolina has found itself also shifting divisions and conferences, having previously been a member of the Southeast group prior to 2008.

Carolina’s success overshadows that of its three group-mates with PDL experience as the trio of Northern Virginia, Virginia Beach and West Virginia have fewer wins combined (7) over the last four years than the Dynamo. Carolina, though, will have to play the four experienced clubs in the group with the expansion side missing from its slate. The first contest comes May 14 at home against West Virginia.

The opening night of qualifying, though, is heavy on the Virginias with all four clubs hailing from the two states as Fredericksburg visits Virginia Beach and West Virginia plays host to Northern Virginia May 7. But while Fredericksburg may have avoided drawing Carolina in the fixture list, the new club will have a difficult task at the finish with back-to-back games on the road against Northern Virginia and at home versus Real Maryland.

SOUTH ATLANTIC DIVISIONGPWLTPTSGFGA GFGD
Carolina Dynamo0000000 0+0
Fredericksburg Hotspur0000000 0+0
Northern Virginia Royals0000000 0+0
Real Maryland Monarchs0000000 0+0
Virginia Beach Piranhas0000000 0+0
West Virginia Chaos0000000 0+0

Top team qualifies for the US Open Cup

Clinched Open Cup berthEliminated from contention

Note: Columns on the far right are for tiebreaker purposes

USL Premier Development League tiebreakers

(1) Head-to-head record based on total points in Open Cup qualifiers

(2) Total wins in Open Cup qualifying games

(3) Goal difference (+/- 3 goals maximum for each USOC qualifier)

(4) Goals scored (+/- 3 goals maximum for each USOC qualifier)

(5) Lottery conducted by the USL

All times Eastern

May 7Fredericksburg HotspuratVirginia Beach Piranhas7:00
May 7Northern Virginia RoyalsatWest Virginia Chaos7:00
May 14Real Maryland MonarchsatVirginia Beach Piranhas5:30
May 14West Virginia ChaosatCarolina Dynamo7:00
May 15West Virginia ChaosatFredericksburg Hotspur2:00
May 15Northern Virginia RoyalsatReal Maryland Monarchs4:00
May 21Carolina DynamoatReal Maryland Monarchs7:00
May 21Virginia Beach PiranhasatWest Virginia Chaos7:30
May 22Carolina DynamoatNorthern Virginia Royals7:00
May 28Virginia Beach PiranhasatCarolina Dynamo7:00
May 29Fredericksburg HotspuratNorthern Virginia Royals7:00
May 30Real Maryland MonarchsatFredericksburg Hotspur5:00


Central Conference
(Coming Soon)

Great Lakes Division: Akron Summit Assault, Chicago Fire, Cincinnati Kings, Indiana Invaders, Michigan Bucks, River City Rovers
Heartland Division: Des Moines Menace, Kansas City Brass, Real Colorado Foxes, Springfield Demize, St Louis Lions

Southern Conference
(Inside Look +)

Mid South Division: Baton Rouge Capitals, Chivas El Paso Patriots, Laredo Heat, New Orleans Jesters, RGV Grandes FC, West Texas United Sockers
Southeast Division: Central Florida Kraze, FC Jaxy Destroyers, Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy, IMG Bradenton Academics, Mississippi Brilla, Nashville Metros

Western Conference (Coming Soon)

Northwest Division: Kitsap Pumas, North Sound SeaWolves, Portland Timbers U23, Tacoma Tide, Washington Crossfire
Southwest Division: BYU Cougars, Fresno Fuego, LA Blues 23, Los Angeles Legends, Ogden Outlaws, Orange County Blue Star, Southern California Seahorses, Ventura County Fusion

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