UPDATE (3/24 – 12:41 a.m. ET): The Sacramento Gold have qualified for the 2013 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 5-1 win over the Sonoma County Sol. FC Hasental also advanced to a “Win & You’re In” match next weekend with a 2-1 win over the Santa Clarita Storm. Results updated below.
The National Premier Soccer League Western Conference is holding a qualifying tournament for the 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, and the competition is down to six teams. Of the six remaining teams, just two will advance to the US Open Cup, and according to NPSL officials, both will begin play in Round 1.
Each division of the Western Conference will submit their winner into the 2013 Open Cup, and the Northern Division has already determined their championship game. On Saturday, March 23, the Sacramento Gold will host the Sonoma County Sol at River City High School in West Sacramento in a “Win & You’re In” match. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT.
The Sacramento Gold reached the Northern Division final with a pair of shutout victories away from home. On March 9, they traveled to Oakland, Calif. and defeated CD Aguiluchos USA 3-0. The scoring opened with an own goal in the 31st minute, and the game remained tight until John Jones and Eliot Ricks-Chambers scored clinching goals in the 78th and 83rd minute respectively.
“We came away with a positive result but we only expect to get better,” said Sacramento coach Ruben Mora. “With a lot of returning players it will not take long to find our rhythm. You can’t say enough about the role the solid defense and goalkeeping played in the shutout.”
A week later, the Gold earned a 2-0 win at Real San Jose to punch their ticket to the final where they will face the Sol who only needed to win one game to reach the championship game. The Sol received a bye into the semifinals and defeated the San Francisco Stompers 5-2 on March 16.
The Sol are the only team in the field who have qualified for the US Open Cup. They have reached the tournament four times: 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010. They have a 1-3-2 (1-1 in PKs) record in their four appearances with their lone regulation win coming against the PDL’s Orange County Blue Star in 2009.
In the other bracket, the final four is set with the Orange County Spartans — formerly known as the Fullerton Rangers — traveling to San Diego to take on the Flash, while Santa Clarita will host FC Hasental. Both games will take place on March 23 and are both are scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. local time.
The Spartans were the only team that had to earn their way into the semifinals, as they defeated San Diego Boca 2-0 in the opening round. FC Hasental was scheduled to play the Las Vegas Stallions in Round 1, but according to Hasental team officials, the Stallions failed to submit the necessary paperwork for their players and were forced to forfeit. The Flash and Santa Clarita both received byes into the semifinals. The final is set for March 30.
Last year, the NPSL received 6.5 spots and the West had 1.5 berths. The Rangers qualified while the Bay Area Ambassadors claimed the “half berth.” Bay Area faced fellow California club Stanislaus United Turlock Express in a play-in game — Stanislaus United won that match 3-0 to become the first US Club Soccer team to qualify for the Open Cup.
This year, the NPSL received eight spots, and three of those teams have been confirmed: FC Sonic Lehigh Valley, Madison 56ers and Chattanooga FC. According to NPSL officials, the two teams that emerge from the Western Conference will join those three teams in the first round of the US Open Cup. The remaining three teams are still to be determined, with two of them beginning their cup run in the Qualifying Round against either the US Club Soccer representative or the US Sports Specialty Association representative. The third team will begin play in Round 1.
2013 NPSL Western Conference Southern Division qualifying
First Round (March 17)
Las Vegas Stallions at FC Hasental*
*Las Vegas forfeits (player paperwork issues)
San Diego Boca FC 0:2 Orange County Spartans**
**Orange County forfeits (player paperwork issues)
Semifinals (March 23/24)
FC Hasental 2:1 Santa Clarita – Mar. 23
San Diego Boca 2:4 San Diego Flash – Mar. 24
Final (March 30) – “Win & You’re In”
FC Hasental vs. San Diego Flash
Del Norte High School – 5 p.m. PT
2013 NPSL Western Conference Northern Division qualifying
First Round (March 9)
Sacramento Gold 3:0 CD Aguiluchos USA
Semifinals (March 16)
Sacramento Gold 2:0 Real San Jose
San Francisco Stompers 2:5 Sonoma County Sol
Final (March 23) – “Win & You’re In”
Sonoma County Sol 1:5 Sacramento Gold
River City High School (West Sacramento)