The National Premier Soccer League’s Western Conference US Open Cup qualifying tournament will wrap up this weekend when the San Diego Flash take on FC Hasental in a “Win & You’re In” match on Saturday. The winner will join the Sacramento Gold in the 100th edition of the tournament who punched their ticket with a convincing 5-1 win over the Sonoma County Sol back on March 23.
The Western Conference represents two of the NPSL’s eight spots in the Open Cup, with three teams yet to be announced by the league.
The qualifying tournament was split into the conference’s north and south divisions. All five teams took part from the Northern Division and the Gold cruised their way into the championship game with back-to-back shutouts over newcomers CD Aguiluchos USA (3-0) and Real San Jose (2-0).
The Sol entered the tournament as the only team in the field who have qualified for the US Open Cup. In fact, 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. They used their experience and skill to crush the San Francisco Stompers 5-2 in the semifinal round while getting goals from Brandon Boone, Chris Daly and the Hurst brothers Tyler and Trevor.
WIN & YOU’RE IN
FC Hasental at San Diego Flash March 30 – 5 p.m. PT
Del Norte High School
San Diego, CA
The Northern Division’s “Win & You’re In” match came down to the Sol, who ran away with the division crown last year with a 4-0-2 record, and the Gold, who finished second last year. In the opening 20 minutes, it appeared as though the Sol, who swept both games against the Gold last year by a combined score of 8-3, were going to make another Open Cup appearance.
Sonoma’s Ross Middlemass opened the scoring in the 18 minute, but it was all Sacramento after that. The Gold scored five unanswered goals, including a hat trick and an assist by Manolo Pina. Clemente Fonseca also scored and assisted on two other goals, including a goal by John Jones II. With the win, the Gold become the first Sacramento-based club to qualify for the US Open Cup since the Sacramento Knights of the NPSL (then known as the MPSL) reached the Second Round in 2004. If they are lucky enough to host their opening round game, that will mark the first time an Open Cup game has been played in the city of Sacramento since 1982.
In the other bracket, both first round games were forfeited, as the Las Vegas Stallions and Orange County Spartans did not properly register their players. This sent FC Hasental and San Diego Boca into the final four where they were matched up against the Santa Clarita Storm and the San Diego Flash, respectively.
In what was a theme that weekend, the Storm scored an early goal, but Hasental rallied with goals from Manuel Cazares and Alberto Anguiano to win 2-1. (SEE highlights below)
In the other semifinal, it was a San Diego derby as the Flash came back to beat San Diego Boca 4-2. Boca got on the board early with goals from David Luquen and Joe Schloss in the first 15 minutes. However, just like the other two games, the team that fell behind early came roaring back as the Flash scored four unanswered goals from Brandon Zuniga, Daniel Ortega, Justin Picou, and Andy Ortega.
The Flash will host the “Win & You’re In” match against FC Hasental on March 30 at 5 p.m. local time at Del Norte High School. If Hasental wins, it will mark their first appearance in the US Open Cup, but if the Flash qualify, it will be the franchise’s first time in the tournament since 2001 when they were a professional team in the USL’s A-League. (Highlights below)
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 (San Diego, CA) – 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