Special thanks to Michael Kuhn (@DownTheByline) of the blog “Down The Byline,” David Gubala (@DavidGubala) from Goal.com and Max Ciszek from MichiganSoccerNews.com for live updates during these matches and contributing to this article.
At the end of a dramatic day in Region II of USASA, one man may have been the deciding factor in which team became the first amateur club to advance to the 2011 edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. It could have been Jakub Piotrowski of the AAC Eagles, but his four-goal effort was not enough to make up for a six-goal victory the Iowa Menace claimed earlier in the day against a Kansas City Athletics side that started and only played with 10 men. With the greatest goal differential of three matches, Iowa Menace move on from Region II of the USASA while AAC Eagles will have to face RWB Adria in a playoff, a match-up of two Chicago clubs, for the second berth from the region.
The fireworks started in Pontiac, Michigan where Detroit United played host to RWB Adria, a late replacement added over the past two weeks, at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas. The visitors jumped into the initial lead after 17 minutes courtesy of Vlad Baciu, but a flurry at the end of the half was an early glimpse of what was to come. Detroit equalized in the 40th minute only to see RWB answer back immediately with a strike one minute later from Elemidin Zukic.
With a 7-1 win over Kansas City (+6 goal difference), the Iowa Menace qualified for the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Photo: Sodagraphics.blogspot.com
The second stanza was a tale of two halves in itself.
RWB scored back-to-back goals in the 50th and 53rd minutes to push out to a commanding 4-1 advantage that looked promising for their efforts to secure a quality goal differential in hopes of securing the first berth from Region II. Baciu notched his second of the day, assisted again by Taylor Bond, who added the next strike with help from Nermin Crnkic.
Detroit, however, had other ideas, answering back with goals in the 58th and 68th to cut the lead to one. Tommy Eller then converted a crucial penalty in the 90th minute to send the contest into overtime.
Again, RWB got an early goal five minutes into extra time from Crnkic, assisted by Alex Rickett, to reclaim the advantage. Detroit nearly equalized yet again in the 110th minute only to see the shot ring off the crossbar. As they pushed to keep their chances alive with a draw, Detroit’s hopes were dashed as RWB locked up victory with Zukic finding Alen Ejupovic for a sixth strike in the 119th minute as they held on for a 6-4 decision.
While Detroit was eating away at RWB Adria’s three-goal advantage, the bad news was being compounded elsewhere as home side KC Athletics only had 10 players for their match versus the Iowa Menace.
Kyle Perkins. the player/manager for the Athletics, explained that there were a number of factors that contributed to the team playing shorthanded. A few of them were out of town, some others were called into work, including a couple who were sent down South to assist with the tornado disaster. Also, after the final roster was submitted, two of the players were signed by pro clubs.
Regardless of the numbers on the field, the Menace did play a strong game at Rockhurst University, controlling the game for the opening 30 minutes. The Menace traveled with 17 players and early on dominated, created good chances, including John Sosa beating the offside trap and chipping the ball just wide of the goal.
The lack of finishing by the Menace came back to bite them in the 31st minute. The Athletics had been working themselves back into the game, having weathered the early attack by the visitors. Marty Johnston collected the ball on the right side and sent in a cross that was cleared, but not far enough, allowing Johnston another chance. He squared it into the middle where Perkins slid in, knocking the ball into the net to give the Athletics the 1-0 lead.
The Menace almost had the equalizer in the 39th when Sosa was played behind the defense again, but KC goalkeeper Bret Clark got enough on the shot to slow it down so that Josh White could recover it and cleared it from danger.
In the 42nd minute, KC created another good chance through Johnston, but the Menace cleared the ball out for a corner. The corner came to nothing, but the Menace sprung the counter through Sosa, who played Bryan Perez in behind the KC defense. Perez’s first shot was saved by Clark in goal, but Perez followed and was able to slot home the tying goal in the 43rd minute. The goal started a late flurry for the Menace as KC seemed to tire a bit.
The Iowa club pressed for a second goal and got one just before stoppage time. Perez played a give and go with Sosa and Perez slotted the ball to the far post giving the Menace a lead that they would not surrender.
Things got worse for the Athletics as the Menace continued to push. The visitors earned a corner and with the last touch of the first half, Iowa made it 3-1. Sosa took a corner kick for the Menace and found Brady Blankenship, who had beaten his man and headed the ball easily into the net to give the home team a big halftime lead.
Looking to bolster the advantage in the game and on goal differential for Region II, the visitors brought on at the half Tomas Boltnar, a former two-time Premier Development League MVP and the league’s all-time leading scorer of the Des Moines Menace.
It wouldn’t take long for Boltnar to contribute as the halftime sub set up the Menace’s first goal of the half, playing Sosa through, who chipped Clark from the top of the box to give him a goal to add to his two assists in the first half in the 58th minute. Shortly after Sosa’s goal, the Athletics almost got back into the game as Geoff Miles fired in a free kick from the side of the box that almost caught Menace keeper Matt Wade napping. Wade palmed the ball away keeping it 4-1.
That sign of life by KC was quickly erased as the Menace scored a couple minutes later to make it 5-1. Right back Ben Taylor played a cross into the middle for second half substitute Jarrett Hamilton, who just had to tap the ball home in the 63rd minute. About four minutes later, Hamilton got his second of the game as Perez broke down the right again. Perez’s initial cross was nearly cut out by Ben Hicks for the Athletics, but his clearance deflected off of Hamilton and into the net making it 6-1.
Iowa seemed to take their foot off the gas a little bit, and at times got a little to fancy in trying to find a seventh goal, knowing that goal difference was very important. Perez got in behind the defense twice, but both times was too unselfish as he played the ball back, once missing his man and another time playing the ball to an offside Hamilton.
There was no quit in the Athletics as they cried for a penalty in the 70th minute when Sosa appeared to be sandwiched by two Menace defenders, but the referee waived play on. KC was still trying to make a game of it, and in the 85th they almost got a second. Josh White, normally a defender, was playing up top trying to give a break to Perkins, who for long periods was totally isolated for KC. White got played in behind the Menace defense and got around Wade in the Menace goal, but Wade had gone down to push White wide and his shot just missed the near post. In the 89th minute, the Menace got their seventh and final goal, the one that would ultimately qualify them for the US Open Cup. Substitute Austin Otto played a great cross-field ball into the box for Boltzmann, who settled, took a touch and then played the ball back to Sosa, who fired the ball inside the far post to make it 7-1.
With Iowa setting the bar high with a +6 goal difference, the AAC Eagles knew they had to come out firing against FC Indiana if they wanted to assure themselves a spot in the US Open Cup. In a game played at the north practice field of Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., home of the Chicago Fire, the Eagles did just that, having learned of the outcome of the two earlier games and knowing that they had to win by 7 to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 2008.
The one-sided affair got started with the Eagles scoring about 10 minutes into the match. Jakub “Kuba” Piotrowski received a centering pass from David Otachel and took care of business inside the box to make it 1-0. About 10 minutes later, Marcin Simson got a little help from mother nature as the wind carried his shot from about 25 yards out, helping him beat the keeper on the play. Five minutes later, Matthew Kochanowski made it 3-0 on a centering pass by Jacek Lechowicz that worked it’s way through traffic to the foot of the goalscorer.
Piotrowski would dribble through traffic in the 40th minute to put the winner of the game beyond doubt with a fourth goal, but the players and coaches knew there was more work that needed to be done. Adding two more goals in the second half to tie, or three more to advance, seemed daunting before the halftime break. But just a couple minutes into the second half, AAC earned a penalty kick. Naturally, they handed the ball to Piotrowski, but his spot kick was saved. However, neither Piotrowski or the Eagles let the failed attempt keep them down. Two minutes later, Piotrowski completed his hat trick on an assist by Michael Kapusta.
With the score 5-0, Indiana would pull one back in the 60th minute, only to have Piotrowski score his fourth just five minutes later. Lechowicz provided his second assist of the day to set up the goal.
Hope was restored in the 82nd minute when Adrian Skital received a pass from Kochanowski to make it a 7-1 game, matching the score of the KC victory from earlier in the day. With still plenty of time left and the victory in hand, the Eagles pushed for the Open Cup berth-clinching goal. It was a frantic finish by the home side as they fielded as many as six forwards in the final 10 minutes of the match desperate to avoid having to play one more game to decide their Open Cup fate.
However, that scenario was dashed about a minute after the seventh goal was scored when Indiana tallied on a counter attack with the Eagles’ numbers out of alignment. With the score at 7-2 the Eagles continued to fight because equaling the +6 goal difference would at least give them a chance, via coin flip, to earn a spot directly into the tournament without another match, but it was not meant to be. Twice the Eagles put the ball into the back of the net in the final few minutes, but both times they were called offside.
The five-goal victory sets up an intriguing game with the Eagles taking on fellow Chicago club RWB Adria in a “Win & You’re In” match.
“Adria is a very good side,” said AAC Eagles team president Stanley Makowka. “Their players have played together for a long time so they have good chemistry. We’ve played them before and we know it won’t be easy but we expect to get the job done.”
Jakub Piotrowski will likely be a focus of the Adria defense, as the Polish forward has now scored 12 goals in his last four Open Cup qualifying matches dating back to last year. He drew high praise from his club’s president.
“He is a game changer,” said Makowka after the match. “He is very good technically and fully aware of his surroundings on the field. Of course, I don’t want him leaving us, but I think bigger clubs will notice him as we move on further in the tournament.”
RWB Adria (IL) 6:4 (AET) Detroit United (MI)
Ultimate Soccer Arenas (Pontiac, Mich.) – 2 p.m.
RWB: Vlad Baciu (Taylor Bond) – 17th minute
DET: Unidentified – 40th minute
RWB: Elemidin Zukic (Unassisted) – 41st minute
RWB: Vlad Baciu (Taylor Bond) – 50th minute
RWB: Taylor Bond (Nermin Crnkic) – 53rd minute
DET: Unidentified – 58th minute
DET: Unidentified – 68th minute
DET: Tommy Eller (PK) – 90th minute
RWB: Nermin Crnkic (Alex Rickett) – 95th minute
RWB: Alen Ejupovic (Elemidin Zukic) – 119th minute
Iowa Menace (IA) 7:1 Kansas City Athletics (KS)
Rockhurst University (Kansas City, Mo.) – 3 p.m.
KCA: Kyle Perkins (Marty Johnston) – 31st minute
IAM: Bryan Perez (Unassisted) – 43rd minute
IAM: Bryan Perez (John Sosa) – 45th minute
IAM: Brady Blankenship (John Sosa) – 45th minute+
IAM: John Sosa (Tomas Boltnar) – 53rd minute
IAM: Jarrett Hamilton (Ben Taylor) – 63rd minute
IAM: Jarrett Hamilton (Unassisted) – 67th minute
IAM: John Sosa (Tomas Boltnar) – 89th minute
KC Athletics: Bret Clark, Ben Hicks, Ryan Barber, Josh White, Mike Robards, Marty Johnston, Stephen Homan, Geoff Miles, Kyle Perkins.
Iowa Menace: Matt Wade, Anthony Colaizzi, Thomas Catania, Diego Marroquin, Ben Taylor (Austin Otto 75), Luis Piffer, Chris Van Leur (Tomas Boltnar 45), Brady Blankenship (Graham Nugent 67), Aaron Douthitt (Jarrett Hamilton 53), Bryan Perez, John Sosa.
IAM: Anthony Colaizzi – 40th minute
IAM: Diego Marroquin – 57th minute
IAM: John Sosa – 90th minute
Note: KC started & played with 10 men
FC Indiana (IN) 2:7 AAC Eagles (IL)
Toyota Park Practice Field (Bridgeview, Ill.) – 3 p.m.
AAC: Jakub Piotrowski (David Otachel) – 10th minute
AAC: Marcin Simson (Unassisted) – 20th minute
AAC: Matthew Kochanowski (Jacek Lechowicz) – 25th minute
AAC: Jakub Piotrowski (Unassisted) – 40th minute
AAC: Jakub Piotrowski (Michael Kapusta) – 49th minute
IND: Unknown goalscorer – 60th minute
AAC: Jakub Piotrowski (Jacek Lechowicz) – 65th minute
AAC: Adrian Skital (Matthew Kochanowski) – 82nd minute
IND: Unknown goalscorer – 83rd minute
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