Move over Kardashians, there is a new star Armenian in Los Angeles. Cal FC striker Artur Aghasyan was selected as the Third Round’s TheCup.us US Open Cup Player of the Round for providing the game-winning overtime strike in the historic upset against the Portland Timbers. It was his third consecutive game with a goal.
The selection marks only the second time since TheCup.us began recognizing the tournament’s outstanding performances in 2006 that a team has had a player chosen three times in a tournament or in consecutive rounds. The previous time came in 2010 when the Seattle Sounders saw Nate Jaqua earn the honor in the semifinals and quarterfinals followed by Sanna Nyassi for the final.
Aghasyan’s selection followed two for teammate Danny Barrera, who was recognized for his pair of goals in a 3-1 road win over the PDL champion Kitsap Pumas and for tallying two goals and an assist in a record 4-0 victory on the road versus the USL Pro Wilmington Hammerheads.
The Player of the Round award is voted on by the staff of the definitive US Open Cup site TheCup.us and a selected panel of members of the North American Soccer Reporters (@SoccerReporters), which also selects the MLS Player of the Week.
After enduring shot after shot and attack after attack from Portland, Cal FC finally got its chance five minutes in overtime with a breakaway created by Barrera, who managed to deliver a ball while falling to the pitch. Aghasyan streaked down the middle of the field, easily beating a lopsided offside trap, collected a well-placed through ball and calmly chipped Perkins. As his teammates mobbed him in the northeast corner of the stadium, the crowd fell silent.
Scoring the lone goal put Aghasyan back in the headlines. He had tallied the insurance goal late versus Kitsap and provided the second goal in Wilmington. Aghasyan is no stranger to success having previously led the PDL’s Ventura County Fusion to a league championship in 2009 after an outstanding start to his professional career in Armenia, where he led Pyunik of the nation’s first division with a league-leading 16 goals in 25 games as a rookie.
However, his jump to the professional ranks in the United States was much more difficult. After his PDL success, he went on to sign in 2011 with Real Salt Lake after a stint with Chivas USA in the MLS Reserve League. He would make only four appearances for RSL before being released and signed by the LA Blues of USL Pro.
With the goal, Cal FC became not only the first US Adult Soccer Association team to score against an MLS opponent, but became the first to advance via a victory. In four previous tries, the USASA clubs went scoreless, though there were several surprising results. In 2006, Dallas Roma advanced via penalties, 4-2, after a scoreless draw against Chivas USA, and in 2000, Uruguay SC lost, 1-0, in golden goal overtime to the Tampa Bay Mutiny.
In the Modern Pro Era, it is only the fifth time a team from an amateur league has eliminated an MLS club and is only the 12th time a USASA club has eliminated a team from a professional league.
USASA Advancements vs Pro League Clubs
Bavarian SC 2000: 1-0 vs Reading Rage (third division – USL)
Bavarian SC 2007: 1-0 vs Cincinnati Kings (third division – USL)
Bridgeport Italians 1997: 3-2 vs Rhode Island Stingrays (third division – USL)
Cal FC 2012: 4-0 vs Wilmington Hammerheads (third division – USL)
Cal FC 2012: 1-0 AET vs Portland Timbers (first division – MLS)
CASL Elite 2002: 5-2 vs Carolina Dynamo (third division – USL)
Dallas Roma 2006: 1-0 vs Miami FC (second division – USL)
Dallas Roma 2006: 0-0 (4-2 pk) vs Chivas USA (first division – MLS)
Hollywood United 2008: 3-2 vs Portland Timbers (second division – USL)
Reggae Boyz 2005: 4-2 vs Cincinnati Kings (third division – USL)
San Jose Oaks 1996: 3-2 vs California Jaguars (third division – USL)
United German Hungarians 1999: 2-1 vs New Jersey Stallions (third division – USL)
MLS Eliminations by Amateur League Teams
Cal FC 2012: 1-0 AET vs Portland Timbers
Michigan Bucks 2012: 3-2 AET vs Chicago Fire
Michigan Bucks 2000: 1-0 vs New England Revolution
Chicago Sockers 2000: 0-0 (7-6 PK) vs Kansas City Wizards
Dallas Roma 2006: 0-0 (4-2 PK) vs Chivas USA
MLS versus USASA Clubs
2012: Portland Timbers 0-1 AET Cal FC
2006: Chivas USASA 0-0 (2-4 PK) Dallas Roma
2006: LA Galaxy 2-0 Dallas Roma
2001: Miami Fusion 4-0 Uruguay SC
2000: Tampa Bay Mutiny 1-0 ASDET Uruguay SC