USASA clubs meet in Chicago for National Championships

Posted by | July 19, 2012

Can’t wait for the US Open Cup Final and want some more related tournament action? Well, if you are a fan of the US Open Cup and live in the greater Chicago area, be sure to check out the conclusion of the USASA’s Open Cup National Championship featuring the four regional champions that were among the USASA entries into the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

The Semifinals are Friday, July 20 at 1:00 pm Central. One semifinal features PSA Elite of Region IV’s California South facing off against New York Greek American Atlas of Region I’s Eastern New York. The other semifinal pits the Croatian Eagles of Region II’s Wisconsin against the ASC New Stars of Region III’s Texas South.

The six-championship event, which has an off day Saturday and Finals Sunday, also features the Final Four for the Men’s Over-30, Women’s Open, Men’s U-23, Women’s U-23 and Men’s Amateur brackets. During the off day, participants and fans will have an opportunity to watch the Chicago Fire of MLS take on Aston Villa in a friendly.

PSA Elite were the only team of the Final Four that also registered a victory in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, topping the PDL’s Portland Timbers U23s, 3-1, on the road in the First Round before being knocked out by the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks, 6-0. Davis Paul scored twice with Christian Ramirez netted the other along with tallying an assist in the upset victory, but two goals surrendered in the first nine minutes of play in North Carolina doomed them versus the second division pro club.

The Orange County club got a first taste of national competition last year at the 2011 USASA National Championships in Bowling Green, Kentucky, participating in the Men’s Amateur bracket. There, after defeating the Region III champion Legends FC from Texas, they lost to Chicago side RWB Adria from Region II by a score of 3-2 in the final.

Though PSA Elite won the regional title and right to represent Region IV in Chicago and then went on to win in the US Open Cup, the team was overshadowed along the way by the club they defeated in the final. Cal FC, a small squad depleted by injury during the Region IV tournament, lost 2-0 to PSA Elite in the final, but went on to steal the headlines in the US Open Cup by upsetting professional clubs under the management of Eric Wynalda.

While the name Greek American Atlas had not been in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in seven years, the club is very intertwined with the competition’s history. Founded in 1941, the club from New York City has won the Cup four times, including a three-peat from 1967 to 1969, making them one of four clubs to do so (Fall River/New Bedford 1930-32, Stix, Baer, and Fuller 1933-35, Seattle Sounders FC 2009-11). The club is also successful on the homefront, winning their division of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League 10 times since joining in 1994, including this season. The team also captured the Dr. Manning Cup in 2009, the main cup tournament for the Eastern New York Federation.

The NY Greek American Atlas path to the Chicago began with a satisfying 4-0 win over archrival New York Pancyprian-Freedoms in the Eastern New York Federation’s Open Cup, ending Pancyprian’s two-year run of USOC qualification. They were also authoritative in the USASA’s Region I qualifying tournament, notching 2-0 wins against Massachusetts’ Battery Park Gunners and eventual qualifier Jersey Shore Boca. The Greek Americans fell in the opening round of the US Open Cup, 2-1, to the PDL’s Reading United AC, an affiliate of the MLS Philadelphia Union. Trailing 2-0, Paul Shaw connected with Stephen Roche, but it was not enough.

The Croatian Eagles of Milwaukee earned the right to make the short trip to Chicago for the Final Four by blanking two of Illinois’ top amateur teams, fellow Croatian club RWB Adria and Polish side AAC Eagles, by identical 2-0 scores in the U.S. Adult Soccer Association Region II tournament April 14 and 15 in Bensenville, Ill., to earn their first Open Cup berth since 2006. Getting to know the Windy City well, the Eagles were narrow US Open Cup First Round losers to the PDL affiliate version of the Chicago Fire, falling 1-0, on the very in which they will play their USASA Semifinal on.

Houston’s ASC News Stars, with a new crop of players, have risen to the top of Region III over the past few years, finishing as runners-up last year and 2008 before finally earning a spot in the Final Four this year. The club finished its group 2-0-1 at the Region III tournament, defeating the NTX Rayados of North Texas in the tournament final, 2-0. The First Round of the US Open Cup was a thriller with ASC equalizing once in each half to force overtime against the PDL powerhouse Laredo Heat. Lukas Simon provided the first and, playing a man down already for a half-hour, got the second late in stoppage time through Peter Kozlowski. From there, the Heat went on to score twice for a 4-2 victory.

The New Stars are making a return trip to the Final four after falling in the Semifinal a year ago in Bowling Green, 3-2 in overtime, to Doxa Italia of California South (Region IV). Doxa Italia went on to tie NY Pancyprian Freedom (Region I, Eastern NY), 2-2, before falling in penalties, 5-4.

Match Schedule for National Cups
Team (Region, State Association) – Time Location*

Men’s Open
ASC New Stars vs Croatian Eagles – 1 pm TP-PT
NY Greek American Atlas vs PSA Elite – 1 pm AHS
Championship – 10 am TP-S

Women’s Open
Turbo D’Feeters vs Chicago Red Stars – 10:30 am TP-PT
New York Athletic Club vs Salt Lake United – 10:30 am AHS
Championship – Noon TP-S

Women’s U-23
Louisiana United vs KC Dynamos – 3:30 pm TP-PT
Annandale Conquistadors vs FC Milwaukee – 6 pm AHS
Championship – 2 pm TP-PT

Men’s Amateur
Legends FC vs RWB Adria – 5:30 pm TP-PG
Battery Park Gunners vs Olympic Club – 6 pm TP-PT
Championship – 2 pm TP-S

Men’s Over-30
Kickers FC vs Belmont United – 8 am TP-PT
Christos vs San Diego Surf – 8 am AHS
Championship – 10 am TP-PT

Men’s U-23
Carolina RailHawks vs Croatian Eagles – 3 pm TP-PG
Real Caribe vs South Sound FC – 3:30 pm AHS
Championship – Noon TP-PT

TP-PT: Toyota Park practice field (turf)
TP-PG: Toyota Park practice field (grass)
AHS: Argo High School (turf)
TP-S: Toyota Park Stadium field (grass)

Club Representation

Region I
Men’s Open Cup: NY Greek American Atlas (Eastern NY)
Men’s Amateur Cup: Battery Park Gunners (Massachusetts)
Men’s Over-30 Cup: Christos (Maryland)
Men’s Under-23 Cup: Real Caribe (Eastern NY)
Women’s Open Cup: New York Athletic Club (Eastern NY)
Women’s Under-23 Cup: Annandale Conquistadors (Metro DC/VA)

Region II
Men’s Open Cup: Croatian Eagles (Wisconsin)
Men’s Amateur Cup: RWB Adria (Illinois)
Men’s Over-30 Cup: Belmont United (Illinois)
Men’s Under-23 Cup: Croatian Eagles (Wisconsin)
Women’s Open Cup: Chicago Red Stars (Illinois)
Women’s Under-23 Cup: KC Dynamos (Kansas)
Women’s Under-23 Cup*: FC Milwaukee (Wisconsin)
*Second entry in place of Region IV

Region III
Men’s Open Cup: ASC New Stars (Texas South)
Men’s Amateur Cup: Legends FC (North Texas)
Men’s Over-30 Cup: Kickers FC (Florida)
Men’s Under-23 Cup: Carolina RailHawks (North Carolina)
Women’s Open Cup: Turbo D’Feeters (North Texas)
Women’s Under-23 Cup: Louisiana United (Louisiana)

Region IV
Men’s Open Cup: PSA Elite (Cal-South)
Men’s Amateur Cup: Olympic Club (Cal-North)
Men’s Over-30 Cup: San Diego Surf (Cal-South)
Men’s Under-23 Cup: South Sound FC (Washington)
Women’s Open Cup: Salt Lake United (Utah)
Women’s Under-23 Cup: No entry – replaced by RII