In the region’s Open Cup qualifying tournament in New Orleans, Florida-based newcomers Red Force and the North Texas Rayados advanced to the competition’s championship game to punch their tickets to the Cup. The Red Force, making their first Open Cup appearance, become the first team from the Sunshine State to qualify since 2009 (Lynch’s FC). The Rayados will make their second straight appearance, something a North Texas-based club hasn’t done since Dallas Roma FC qualified in 2005 and 2006. Both teams will begin play in Round 1, scheduled for May 14.
In addition to competing in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, North Texas defeated Red Force in the title game, 3-0, to advance to the USASA National Finals.
This weekend’s play saw nine sides compete in three groups of three, resulting in Sunday’s semifinal matches involving group winners CD Motagua (Louisiana), Rayados, Red Force and the top second place team, ASC New Stars (Texas South) all competing for a spot in the final and an Open Cup berth.
Both 2012 Region III entrants, ASC New Stars (who were beaten in Round 1 by the PDL’s Laredo Heat, 4-2) and Rayados (beaten in Round 1 by PDL’s El Paso Patriots, 3-1) managed to reach the semifinal qualifying stages again this year, but both would take different routes.
The New Stars were attempting to qualify for the Open Cup for the fourth time and they began play on Friday by stamping their authority on the competition once again with a 3-0 win over newcomers Dallas TNT. Rayados also kicked off this year’s competition with a thumping 6-1 win over Texas South entrants Islanders FC, who lost out at this stage last year.
Saturday saw the bulk of the matches and in Group A, the host state’s lone entry CD Motagua took the bull by the horns early in the day with a magnificent 11-1 victory over Dallas TNT, that not only set the benchmark for scoring for the day, but also eliminated the Dallas side from the competition. In the final group match, ASC New Stars scored early, but CD Motagua equalized in the 68th minute and scored the game-winner in the final minute of extra time to take the group. ASC would find out later that their +2 goal difference was enough to make them the top second place team to earn them a spot in Sunday’s final four.
In Group B, Oklahoma runner-up Los Lobos, who qualified after state champion Boston Avenue withdrew, began their first tournament run since 1999 with a 4-1 defeat to the Rayados. North Texas clinched the group after already defeating Islanders FC 6-1 earlier in the day. The only hope Los Lobos had to stay alive to qualify for the Open Cup for the first time since 1999 was to win their second game to stay alive for the wild card spot. Islanders FC had to do the same, and they did so by defeating the Oklahoma representative 4-2. Unfortunately, their opening loss to North Texas would come back to haunt them as the team’s goal difference of minus-3 would not be enough to overtake ASC New Stars as the top runner-up.
Group C may have produced the most entertaining game, but in the end was the least competitive group. After Red Force defeated Barracudas FC to open play on Friday, the Houston-based Barracudas would face North Texas side FC Rahr in the early match on Saturday. In the second half, FC Rahr found themselves up 2-1 but after putting a ball into their own net, the game was tied in the 54th minute. The two teams looked headed for a draw but the Barracudas scored a late goal in the 86th minute to take the lead and possibly put one foot in the semifinals. However, FC Rahr spoiled the party for both teams as they scored a 90th minute equalizer and the match would end that way. Red Force would clinch the group ame de open.
Later that day, Red Force eliminated FC Rahr and cruised into the semifinals with a 3-0 victory.
The semifinals were set, with CD Motagua facing Rayados and Red Force taking on ASC New Stars. The start of Sunday morning’s proceedings was delayed by thunderstorms, but after the weather cleared up, it was Rayados and Red Force who emerged victorious with 4-0 and 2-0 victories, respectively.
They will join an abundance of fellow Region III sides to compete for the ultimate prize in cup competition within the United States this summer.
With the largest number of sides competing this year (68), joining them from Region III are also the largest percentage (31%) of soccer sides in comparable terms to the other three regions. A total of 21 sides (31%) from the eventual 68 taking part will be from our Region III.
USASA will join Round 1 with NTX Rayados (2nd straight entry), & Red Force (1st entry)
NPSL sides will join either in the Play-In Round or Round 1: Georgia Revolution (2nd straight entry) Chattanooga FC (2nd entry – 2011)
PDL will join in Round 1: Austin Aztex (1st entry), Carolina Dynamo (10th entry), Laredo Heat (3rd entry), Ocala Stampede (1st entry), Orlando U23s (6th entry)
USL PRO’s VSI Tampa Bay will join in Round 1
USL PRO sides that will join Round 2: Charleston Battery (14th entry), Charlotte Eagles (11th entry), Wilmington Hammerheads (11th entry)
NASL will join in Round 2: Atlanta Silverbacks (9th entry), Carolina Railhawks (6th entry), Fort Lauderdale Strikers (7th entry), San Antonio Scorpions (2nd entry), Tampa Bay Rowdies (3rd entry)
MLS will join in Round 3: Houston Dynamo (7th entry), FC Dallas (16th entry)
The winner of this year’s competition will receive a $250,000 cash prize and a berth into the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League while the runner-up will received $60,000. The top finisher from each lower division will receive $15,000.
You can follow Marc Roseblade on Twitter @region3soccer
2013 USASA Region III Open Cup tournament (April 12-14)
New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds (New Orleans, LA)
Division winners + best 2nd place team advance to Semifinals
All times Eastern
|CD Motagua (LA)||6||2||0||0||+11|
|ASC New Stars (TX South)||3||1||1||0||+2|
|Dallas TNT (North TX)||0||0||2||0||-13|
Dallas TNT 0:3 ASC New Stars
CD Motagua 11:1 Dallas TNT
CD Motagua 2:1 ASC New Stars
|NTX Rayados (North TX)||6||2||0||0||+8|
|Islanders FC (TX South)||3||1||1||0||-3|
|Los Lobos (OK)||0||0||2||0||-5|
North Texas Rayados 6:1 Islanders FC
North Texas Rayados 4:1 Los Lobos
Los Lobos 2:4 Islanders FC
|Red Force (FL)||6||2||0||0||+4|
|FC Rahr (North TX)||1||0||1||1||-3|
|Barracudas FC (TX South)||1||0||1||1||-1|
Red Force 2:1 Barracudas FC
FC Rahr 3:3 Barracudas FC
Red Force 3:0 FC Rahr
Tiebreakers: (1) Head to head (2) Goal diff. (3) Goals for (4) Goals against (5) Most shutouts
Semifinals (April 14)
Red Force 2:0 ASC New Stars
NTX Rayados 4:0 CD Motagua
* Both semifinal winners qualify for 2013 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup
NTX Rayados 3:0 Red Force
North Texas Rayados advance to USASA National Finals