Welcome to our continuing series of Meet the USASA features where we annually profile the clubs representing the United States Adult Soccer Association in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Advancing from the four regional tournaments, these often unknown clubs have great stories to tell and each year, our goal is to allow fans to get to know them as they attempt to become this year’s Cinderella story.
PSA Elite continues to make the city of Irvine, Calif. proud. The club is back in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the second year in a row after cruising through this year’s USASA Region IV tournament.
The tournament win accomplished two things for PSA Elite, an amateur club that is one of the most successful in the nation. It ensured that PSA Elite will represent Region IV, the Western region, in the USASA’s four-team national championship tournament in San Antonio July 19-21, and it punched their ticket to the US Open Cup.
PSA Elite has been to the USASA final the past two years, only to come up short.
But first things first, a date with the Laredo Heat of the PDL awaits PSA Elite on May 14 at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex. This marks the third Open Cup game in a row where PSA Elite will have to travel over 1,000 miles to play an opponent (2012: at Portland Timbers U23s, at Carolina RailHawks). Unfortunately for the Elite, the airline miles will continue to pile up if they are able to beat the Heat. The winner will travel to South Florida to take on the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers in Round 2 on May 21.
At the Region IV tourney, the team outscored their opponents 26-4, including a pair of wins against fellow 2013 Open Cup qualifier Doxa Italia to qualify for the Open Cup and the USASA National Finals.
PSA Elite won its first Open Cup game last year, defeating the Portland Timbers U23s of the PDL 3-1. Davis Paul scored a pair of goals and Christian Ramirez added another in the road victory. Then the club had to travel across the country to North Carolina in the next round and were soundly defeated by the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks, 6-0.
Owner/general manager Alex Lujan said the club wasn’t at full strength, with a number of key players unable to make the trip east last year.
“We’re not sneaking up on anybody,” Lujan said.
PSA Elite is led by captain and center midfielder Darren Spicer, a 29-year-old veteran who has played with the Minnesota Thunder (Division II) as well as the Charleston Battery and Rochester Rhinos of USL Pro. Spicer brings a lot of Open Cup experience to the table with six career goals in the competition, including finishing tied for second in goals (4) during the Battery’s run to the championship game in 2008.
Goalkeeper Trevor Widdon had five saves against the Timbers U-23s last year and is back in the net this year.
Jon Spencer is PSA Elite’s technical director and the head coach is Gary Berry.