2013 US Open Cup qualifying: Four USASA Region I teams emerge from quarterfinals

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  • April 9, 2013

USASA Region I logoThe 2013 USASA Region I Open Cup qualifying tournament kicked off with three of the four quarterfinal matches decided by a single goal. The traditionally competitive Northeast region also saw three of the four matches won by the visiting team as Region I moves on to the “Win & You’re In” semifinal round.

The three-time US Open Cup champion New York Pancyprian Freedoms needed a late penalty kick to a claim a narrow 1-0 win over first-time entry Newtown SC. The Freedoms will take on Mass Premier Soccer for the right to qualify for the Open Cup as MPS edged another first time entry, the Rhode Island Reds by the same scoreline.The results of the South bracket assured that there will be a first-time entry in the 2013 US Open Cup. The Screaming Eagles from Maryland scored a first half goal and held on the rest of the way to eliminate two-time defending Metro DC/Virginia champion, Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks. The Eagles will take on New Jersey representative Icon FC, who traveled up to Eastern Pennsylvania to eliminate West Chester United 4-2.

The winners of the April 21 semifinal matches (time/locations still to be determined) will automatically qualify for the 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and will begin play in Round 1 (May 14).

New York Pancyprian Freedoms (ENY) 1:0 Newtown SC (CT)
Treadwell Park (Newtown, CT) – 4 p.m. ET

By Matthew Walsh (
@TylerGuinness)

Check out a complete photo gallery of this game from Michael Anderer of SoccerLIMagazine.com

Nikos Katsanos of the Pancyprian Freedoms scores a penalty kick against Newtown SC's Brad Jeeves in the 83rd minute. Photo: Michael Anderer | SoccerLImagazine.com

An 83rd minute penalty was the only goal in a hard fought match between New York Pancyprian Freedoms and Connecticut’s first-time entry Newtown SC.

The match had played out evenly up to that point. Throughout the game, the Pancyprian Freedoms had greater possession and spent more time in their offensive half.  However, Newtown SC was very well organized defensively and kept the scoring chances to a minimum while creating their own chances on the counter attack.

New York started the action with a shot just high over the bar in the 5th minute. The teams then traded possession for the next 10 minutes with New York having the edge in play. Newtown’s keeper was forced into his first save in the 21st minute, which was followed by two successive corners for the visitors. Newtown countered with a header on the other end that went over the crossbar.

In the 35th minute, Brad Jeeves, the Newtown keeper, made a brilliant one handed save to keep New York off the scoreboard. Newtown dealt with the subsequent corner efficiently as they did for most of the afternoon.
New York had the best chance in the fading moments of the first half when Panagiotis Halkidis broke free from the Newtown defense on the right side, but was unable to cleanly strike the bouncing ball and pushed his shot to the right.

Photo: Michael Anderer | SoccerLImagazine.com

Physical play highlighted second half of the match with three yellow cards being issued in the match. However, for much of the match the ref kept his whistle in his pocket and let the players decide the outcome. The Newtown keeper went down under a slide tackle as he covered the ball in the 47th minute.  Three yellow cards were issued between the 60th and 70th minutes. Players from both sides were slow to get up on either end of the field after hard challenges within seconds of each other in the 80th minute.

Both sides created scoring chances throughout the second half.  Newtown used a free kick and subsequent throw in to pressure the New York keeper. On the other side it took a brave slide tackle inside the box by Luke Whelan to take away a dangerous opportunity from the Freedom.

New York continued to carry the bulk of the possession. However, on the other end of the field, Julio Garcia’s pace created a number of dangerous situations for Newtown on the counter.

It looked like the game would need more than 90 minutes to decide, when a tackle inside the Newtown box was called for a penalty kick in the 83rd minute. Andreas Chronis stepped up for the Freedoms and despite Brad Jeeves diving correctly to his left, the low shot went past his fingertips and into the net just inside the post. Newtown pressed the attack for the remainder of regulation and three minutes of extra time, but were unable to seriously threaten the New York goal.

The Pancyprian Freedoms will take on Mass Premier Soccer on April 21 at a time/location still to be determined. A win by the Freedoms would give them their third Open Cup berth in the last four years, and the fourth straight year that an Eastern New York team has represented in the tournament.

Icon FC (NJ) 4:2 West Chester United (EPA)

Delacy Soccer Complex No. 4 (West Chester, PA) – 2 p.m. ET

By Michael Berton
(@MichaelBerton)

Icon FC (blue) won their first-ever USASA Region I Open Cup game, 4-2 over West Chester United. Photo: Kari Haffelfinger

Icon FC may have been the road team in its USASA Region I Quarterfinal on Sunday afternoon, but the players came out playing as if they were at home, scoring two goals in the first six minutes against hosts West Chester United. New Jersey champions Icon FC added two goals in the second half to hold off a pesky West Chester team 4-2 and put themselves one win away from the Garden State’s second straight tournament berth.

“We have a confident bunch of players,” Icon FC coach Greg Bajek said. “We have a lot of players that have aspirations to do bigger things in their personal careers, and this is a good chance for them.”

The game got off to a quick start at the Delacy Soccer Fields in West Chester, Pa. Icon was immediately on the front foot, crowding the West Chester penalty box. A cross from the right side of the box found the head of an Argjent Duka, who was able to put it in the net. Barely a minute later, United had to grab the ball out of the back of the net again. This time, Jonathan Lopuski used his foot from the top of the box to beat the keeper. After six minutes, Icon was already up 2-0.

West Chester finally started to get into the game, leading to quality chances. In the 23rd minute, a ball over the top was played into Michael Lodge. The Icon keeper had come off his line, allowing Lodge to head the ball over the goalie and into the net to cut the lead in half.

Icon FC celebrates one of their four goals in a 4-2 win over West Chester United in the 2013 USASA Region I quarterfinals. Photo: Kari Haffelfinger

The home team was motivated by the goal, and enjoyed the bulk of the chances for the rest of the half. West Chester hit the crossbar, sent several shots just high and wide, and forced the Icon keeper into key saves. Icon held on to take a 2-1 lead into the half.

Vince D’Ambrosio, West Chester manager said, “We came out flat. We didn’t come out as strong as we wanted to. [Icon] got us early. We started playing strong, but it was unfortunate we came out weak the first ten minutes.”

With United chasing the game in the second half, Icon took advantage of the space in its offensive end, creating multiple chances. Continued pressure and quick switches eventually led to two similar goals in a span of five minutes.

In the 53rd minute, the road team moved the ball side to side, eventually leading to a cross from the left side of the penalty area that found a wide-open Samuel Gehman, who calmly slotted it past the keeper. It was the same story five minutes later—a cross from the left found an open Gehman on the right, leading to an easy goal.

At that point, the game was all but over, yet West Chester kept on fighting. After a few missed shots, United had a goal disallowed in the 80th minute due to a handball. Ironically though, it would be an Icon handball that led to United’s second goal. In the 85th minute, after Icon handled the ball in the area, Lodge stepped up and buried his second goal of the game.

West Chester clipped the cross bar in the 89th minute, but could not find two more goals to tie it up. Icon FC won 4-2, advancing to the semifinals whee they will host the Screaming Eagles of Maryland in its first-ever US Open Cup qualifying attempt. West Chester has now fallen at this stage two years in a row.

Mass Premier Soccer (MA) 1:0 Rhode Island Reds FC (RI)
Cranston Stadium (Cranston, RI) – 2 p.m. ET

By Brian O’Connell (
NESoccerToday.com | @NESoccerToday)

CRANSTON, R.I. – In a match that pitted youth versus experience, a veteran Mass Premier Soccer side edged the fledgling Rhode Island Reds 1-0 in a windy US Open Cup Region I USASA quarterfinal on Sunday.

Rhode Island Reds midfielder Jason Garcia lines up a free kick against Mass Premier Soccer. Photo: Brian O’Connell | NESoccerToday.com

Matt Horth scored in the 19th minute, while goalkeeper Jeff Newman kept the Reds out of his net. Reds goalkeeper Chris Moura collected a series of dramatic saves to keep his club within striking distance.

Mass Premier’s victory booked them a meeting with the Pancyprian Freedoms, who claimed a 1-0 victory over Newtown SC on Sunday. The match is set for Apr. 21 in New York at a time and location to be determined. MPS will aim to end a small drought as the state of Massachusetts hasn’t had a team emerge from the Region I tournament since Emigrantes Das Ilhas qualified for the Open Cup in 2009.

With the wind howling and gusts reaching 30 mph, the Reds kicked off into the wind, and hoped to set the tone with an attack predicated upon short passing.

They did so throughout, but to little effect. Central midfielder Jason Garcia provided a strong link between the defense and attack, however, the hosts couldn’t breach Mass Premier’s back four.

Meanwhile, the guests found no such issues as they barreled into the Rhode Island end with the win at their backs. In the 14th minute, Dan MaGregor headed a Nick Cristman corner kick into the turf inside the six before it strayed over the bar.

A minute later, Matt Lemire found an opportunity when he snuck into the area and directed his shot toward the far post, but Moura leaned to his right to push it away.

The third try proved to be a charm in the 19th minute, when Mass Premier collected the remnants of a stalled Rhode Island attack and pushed forward. Charlie Romero sent it ahead to Hoff, who beat his mark then chipped it over Moura to put the guests in the driver’s seat.

Rhode Island searched for a reply, and nearly did just that in the 35th minute when Wilfred Ghanyea played it wide to Ivan Boaventura, who easily beat Newman. But the assistant referee’s flag was raised as the ball skipped through, much to the chagrin of the home crowd.

Mass Premier came within inches of doubling their lead when Hoff nearly converted another Christman corner. But David Ricci cleared it right off the line to keep the Reds within one going into halftime.

Hoff’s 40th minute chance was the closest either side would get to the net for the remainder of the match. Dilson Xon played it ahead to Emmanuel Asiedu on a clean break, but Newman came off his line to deny him in the 57th minute.

Moura made a trio of strong saves in the final 25 minutes, and averted danger in the 71st minute when Christman skied an open look inside the 18. Yet, the Reds couldn’t capitalize before time expired.

Screaming Eagles (MD) 1:0 Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (DC/VA)
Cedar Lane Regional Park (Bel Air, MD) – 1:30 p.m. ET

By Matt Johnston (@
MattClimbs)

The Screaming Eagles, Maryland’s representative to the USASA Region I tournament have continued their unlikely run through the qualifying for the 100th US Open Cup with a 1-0 win over the two-time defending DC/VA champions Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks at Cedar Lane Park in Bel Air, MD on Sunday.  The win puts the first time entrants one win away from the Open Cup proper.

The Aegean Hawks had only twelve players in uniform through a combination of injuries and work commitments for the amateur side, depleting its ranks.  The Screaming Eagles boasted a full squad of twenty with only two absences.  Earlier in the week, the Eagles were facing a serious paperwork issue as 14 of its 22 man roster had not received their international clearances from USSF.  Hawks manager Jonathan Knight stated that he was unsure if the paperwork was completed but indicated that the Hawks were not planning to lodge an official protest, preferring to let the game decide matters.  The USASA could conceivably take official action, but it is unclear if such action will take place.

When kickoff finally occurred, the two teams knocked the ball around in midfield a great deal.  The Hawks started the match with a 4-2-3-1 formation, looking to solidify the middle.  But in doing so, the Eagles traditional 4-4-2 enabled them to control the wings.  The Eagles striker duo of Jonathan Orlando and Olakunle Banjo were active and able to find seams and pockets of space among the Hawks’ back line, particularly between the Hawks’ right back Devlin Barnes and centerback Tim Finklea. Whether sensing the confusion between the defenders and the midfielders Michael Goldman, Michael Montross and Erwin Diaz, or just deciding to attack down the left flank, the Eagles poured on the pressure early on in the match on their left wing.

The pressure paid off in the 18th minute as Orlando collected a ball on the left, muscled past Barnes and broke toward the penalty area.  Finklea, the other centerback James Kpainay, and left back Mateus Dos Anjos all over committed on their coverage and left Emmanuel Yamson unmarked in the right channel at the top of the penalty area.  Orlando threaded a pass through and Yamson calmly slid a side-footed shot past the largely helpless Hawks keeper Chris Fenner.

The next 15 minutes saw a fair amount of back and forth play in the midfield with neither team able to solidly assert possession.  The Hawks attack centered on lone striker Scott Larrabee making strong runs, usually along the Hawks left wing and then cutting in toward the penalty area.  Attacking center midfielder Gui Fonseca was similarly active and the Hawks were able to manage a few shots, but most were either off target or weak enough for Eagles keeper Theodore Edwin to handle.

By the 35th minute, the Hawks began to assert control of the game and the passing became sharper and quicker.  In the 40th minute the Hawks assembled their best chance of the half.  The attack began down the left channel with a series of short, one-touch passes among Fonseca, Larrabee, Goldman and Sam Scales which left the Eagles in disarray and chasing the ball, but the final touch eluded Fonseca who was not able to connect with a strong shot.

But aside from that flash of brilliance, Knight said after the match “the first half we played about as bad as I have ever seen.”

On the other hand, discipline became an issue for the Eagles in the latter seven minutes of the half.  In the 39th minute, Eagles Malone Komora picked up a silly yellow card for delaying the restart.  Komora picked up the ball after a foul had been called against the Eagles and ran for approximately 10 yards before dropping the ball.  The referee had little option but to issue the yellow card.  Just five minutes later, Eagles centerback Godwin Amuzie picked up a yellow card for a hard challenge from behind on Goldman.  Heading in to half time, the Eagles had two defenders on yellow cards.

Following the intermission, Knight, noting that the 4-2-3-1 was not helping his side, made a tactical change for the Hawks, pushing a center midfielder higher into the attack and shifting to a more 4-4-2 formation.  The change in formation and small tactical changes allowed the Hawks to begin managing the ball in all areas, including out on the flanks where the Eagles had dominated in the first half.

Believing the Hawks had moved to a 4-5-1, Eagles manager Adam Camara pulled his wingers back a little giving the Hawks own flank players and full backs room to begin bombing down the flanks.  With the extra space, Mateus Dos Anjos in particular was making a meal on the space on the left, but the Hawks were unable to regularly feed him the ball.

Knight made his only substitution, pulling Diaz and inserting David Rosenbaum, who immediately made an impact with fresh legs and speed up top alongside Larrabee.  The Hawks clearly had the Eagles on the back foot with several attacks from all angles, including a cheeky attempt by Fonseca to chip the keeper from 40 yards out that was caught a bit by the wind and floated just over the bar.

As the Hawks applied pressure, the Eagles discipline began to slip.  In the 73rd minute, Yusuf Sindel ewarned a yellow card for a hard challenge on Montross.  Play continued to be physical in the midfield and just four minutes later, Amuzie received a second yellow and his marching orders for a studs up challenge on Goldman.  Now a man down, but a goal up, the Eagles went to a purely defensive 4-4-1 and were putting all ten men behind the ball at times.

The Hawks’ best chance of the game came just three minutes after Amuzie was sent off.  A corner kick led to a strong aerial challenge from Finklea who put a header on frame.  Eagles keeper Edwin palmed it away but into the path of Scott Larrabee who blasted a shot of the right post.

After a full seven minutes of stoppage time (accumulated due to players having to chase the ball out of bounds) and after a few more quality and half-chances by the Hawks, the referee blew the final whistle and the Eagles had held onto their slim margin of victory with ten men.

Following the match, Knight commented on the offensive performance, “We had five quality chances and didn’t convert.  You’re not giving yourself much of a chance with a 0 for 5 conversion rate.  It really was a story of not giving ourselves a chance.”

As for the Eagles, Camara said of his team, “Nobody expected us to be here.  Nobody expected us to beat this team.  We are excited, the guys have come a long way, this is their first experience in this level of competition.”  As for discipline and card trouble, “we will be missing one of our key players, but we will see going forward.”

2013 USASA Region I Finals (US Open Cup qualifying)

Quarterfinals (April 7)
New York Pancyprian Freedoms (ENY) 1:0 Newtown SC (CT)
Mass Premier Soccer (MA) 1:0 Rhode Island Reds FC (RI)
Icon FC (NJ) 4:2 West Chester United (EPA)
Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (DC/VA) 0:1 Screaming Eagles (MD)

Semifinals (April 21 – Time/Location TBA)
Mass Premier Soccer (MA) at New York Pancyprian Freedoms (ENY)
Screaming Eagles (MD) at Icon FC (NJ)
Semifinal winners both qualify for 2013 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

Recent USASA Region I Open Cup entries
2012: Aegean Hawks (DC/VA), Jersey Shore Boca (NJ), Greek American Atlas (ENY)
2011: NY Pancyprian Freedoms (ENY), Phoenix SC (EPA)
2010: Brooklyn Italians (NPSL), NY Pancyprian Freedoms (ENY)
2009: Aegean Hawks (DC/VA), Emigrantes Das Ilhas (MA)
2008: Boston Olympiakos (MA), NY Pancyprian Freedoms (ENY)
2007: Aegean Hawks (DC/VA), Danbury United (CT)
2006: Allied SC (MD), Milford International (CT)
2005: Baltimore Colts FC (MD), NY Greek American Atlas (ENY)
2004: Allied SC (MD), NY Greek American Atlas (ENY)
2003: Bridgeport Italians (CT)
2002: Vereinigung Erzgebirge (EPA)
2001: Olympia Stamford (CT)
2000: Jerry D’s (MD)
1999: United German Hungarians (EPA)
1998: NY Greek American Atlas (ENY)
1997: Bridgeport Italians (CT)
1996: Mo’s Sport Shop (DC/VA)
1995: Spartan SC (DC/VA)

2 Comments

  • Aegean Hawks did not file a protest because we shouldn’t have had to do so. Participants should focus on playing not enforcing the rules of the competition. Region I had dialogue with the USSF regarding the final eligibility of the Screaming Eagles player pool, and the final status of clearance attempts for that pool was not made available to us. We wish these clearance rules didn’t exist, but we abide by them. The referees should have had verified copy of each teams player pool for the match provided by Region I, which should have been cross-referenced against the game day rosters we provided, and further indicate who was cleared and who was not. The referees did not have any player pool documentation from Region I prior to the match, and asked teams to provide. A protest of ineligible players requires a money order in the amount of $500 to be posted and allegations served to the opposing team manager, the regional commissioner, and the referees prior to kickoff. This is an absolutely ridiculous requirement that promotes litigiousness and bitterness between participants and places the onus on enforcing the rules of the competition on the participants vs. the organizers. The information regarding final clearance status is not available to team participants since we have been instructed not to contact USSF directly and only Cups Commissioners are allowed to have that dialogue. The participants should simply ensure compliance of their own team and show up and play, not police the rules of eligibility. We don’t have any issue losing a game at all. We have issues with these stupid clearance and protest rules which place the onus on the participants for enforcement, who instead of focusing on the beautiful game and celebrating diversity, are forced to create a contentious environment prior to kickoff and place players at risk by creating bad blood to enforce the rules of the competition. We refuse to police the rules of this competition in that way. What is the point of getting rosters cleared by USSF prior to matches if nobody is going to enforce it except some jackass manager with the balls to pay a $500 fee and confront another manager prior to kickoff? We don’t wish to take a back door win-at-all-costs attitude that promotes bitterness between fellow footballers. We take nothing away from Screaming Eagles who are a bunch of young ballers doing their thing, but we hope that the tournament’s rules of eligibility will be objectively enforced by tournament organizers in Region I, or otherwise sanction the removal of the clearance rules altogether.

  • Gerald Barnhart says:

    I understand the frustration as I managed player registration for USL HQ for a short term as well as for the Spokane Shadow for several years. However, the rule not permitting USSF contact, I have to admit, is kind of fair considering their registration dept handles all the pro leagues as well as all of USL and is staffed by only two full-time people. If they opened up contact to everyone, that would be several hundred clubs trying to reach out to them and the paperwork would take even longer to process. The real issue is with how USASA and its states operate and the scheduling of their tournaments. Management across the board of these events is extremely hands off and/or poorly done.

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