UPDATE: AC Blaugrana of Rhode Island has been disqualified due to the use of an ineligible player. Details here.
The United States Adult Soccer Association’s (USASA) Region I took another step toward the 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup as their qualifying tournament kicked off this weekend.
In the tournament’s lone preliminary round game, Rhode Island’s lone entry AC Blaugrana made their debut with a 2-0 win over Mass Premier Soccer to earn themselves a date with New Jersey champion Icon FC in the quarterfinals on April 13.
Elsewhere, Open Cup regulars Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks from Metro DC/Virginia defeated Pittsburgh’s Oak Avalon 3-1 to punch their ticket to the final four. They will take on the Maryland Bays who traveled north and defeated the three-time defending Eastern Pennsylvania champions West Chester United by the same score.
And finally, a new face joined the semifinals when Eastern New York champion Lansdowne Bhoys cruised past Newtown Pride SC from Connecticut 5-1. The Bhoys will await the winner of the Icon FC-AC Blaugrana match. The semifinals will take place on May 4.
The winner of the Open Cup tournament, along with the Region I Amateur Cup champion will represent the region at the 2015 US Open Cup.
2014 USASA REGION I OPEN CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND
AC BLAUGRANA (RI) 2:0 MASS PREMIER SOCCER (MA)
by Brian O”Connell | NESoccerToday.com
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – For many wearing the white AC Blaugrana strip, Sunday’s US Open Cup clash against Mass Premier Soccer at Framingham State University was a chance to right past wrongs. To atone for previous failures. And, perhaps most importantly, to avenge recent defeats.
With no fewer than 12 players from the recently-dissolved East Providence Sports on their squad, Blaugrana (R.I.) grabbed 2-0 Region 1 preliminary round win over the same Mass Premier (Mass.) team that had knocked the former LUSA powerhouse out of Open Cup play in three straight tournaments (2010, 2011 and 2012).
A scoreless first half gave way to a decidedly different sequel, which saw the Rhode Island-based side score its first from Kyle Teixeira in the 48th minute. Local goalscorer extraordinaire Alencar Junior scored Blaurgrana’s second in the 64th minute. Goalkeeper Scott Perdomo kept the sheet clean to ensure that he and his fellow E.P. Sports alumni would taste the nectar of sweet revenge against their recent Region 1 nemesis.
With the win, Blaugrana, who played its first Open Cup clash on Sunday, advanced to the Region 1 quarterfinals, where it will host Icon (N.J.) on Apr. 13 at a location to be determined.
Sunday’s match started off with Mass Premier pressing the issue, with Perdomo and his backline tested early. Tyler McNee and Ben Shuleva made runs into their opponent’s end, but Perdomo wasn’t forced to take any drastic actions.
Though they may have been making gains as the game progressed, Mass Premier found its best opportunities from set pieces. In the 20th minute, they were awarded a free kick near the left edge of the box, but Derek Nobrega’s effort was cleared away by center back Rui Fortes.
The Commonwealth XI found another chance from the set piece in the 40th minute, this time with a free kick given deep inside the right flank. Once again, Nobrega’s cross was cleared away, this time by right back Jimmy Hernandez.
Undaunted, Mass Premier nearly pocketed a goal seconds before the interval. MacNee beat his mark, and went alone into the area with only Perdomo standing in his way. But the Blaugrana keeper held his ground, and denied MacNee with a quick flick of his left arm before corralling the rebound.
Mass Premier may have looked like early favorites following an ambitious first half, thanks to their play along the flanks. But the second half would prove to be an entirely different story for the longtime Region 1 powerhouse.
Three minutes into the second stanza, Blaugrana came alive when Hernandez launched a long ball over to Teixeira, who beat the defense and looked to bring down the pass. MPS goalkeeper Jeff Newman quickly closed in on Teixeira, and the pair collided – but not before the Blaugrana winger pushed the ball on frame and gently into the back of the net.
The lead was theirs, but Blaugrana knew they couldn’t rest easily. Not against the same Mass Premier that proved itself the mightier in matches past.
However, Mass Premier would find its chances far and few in between. Unable to find a comfortable rhythm, they struggled to summon their first half form, and laid waste to the few opportunities afforded to them.
They were further frustrated just after the hour when Blaugrana put together the finest display of offense seen all afternoon. Wilder Arboleda sent it ahead to Hernandez on an overlapping run down the right, where the right back went deep into the MPS end before crossing it far post. With the ball about knee high, Junior clinically finished it on the volley to make it a two-goal game with just under half an hour remaining.
Facing deeper deficit, Mass Premier attempted to assemble their attack in search of a way to get back into the match. Set pieces afforded them glimpses of hope, but each opportunity went unanswered. Around the 75th minute, the men in red went to a 3-4-3, attempting to get bodies into the box.
Yet, the polish required to seize a measure of success eluded them throughout the afternoon, as Blaugrana were crowned victors once the final whistle screeched.
Mass Premier Soccer: Jeff Newman, Sam Brill, Alan Ashenfelter, Jake Edwards, Dan Tweed Kent, Ben Shuleva, Harris Smirko, Derek Stenquist, Charlie Romero, Tyler MacNee, Dan McGregor. Substitutes: Derek Nobrega, Nick Figueiredo, Matt Lemire, Jake Johnson, Matt Hoff
AC Blaugrana: Scott Perdomo, Wilder Arboleda, Quim DePinia, Rui Fortes, Mateo Giraldo, Jimmy Hernandez, Andres Perdomo, Anthony Petrarca, Jefferson Rojas, Alonso Villasenor, Alencar “Junior” Ventura. Substitutes: Patrick Gerard, Tristan Lewis, Peter Maciel, Dom Petrarca, Diego Tabares, Kyle Teixeira.
ACB: Kyle Teixeira (Jimmy Hernandez) – 48th min.
ACB: Alencar “Junior” Ventura (Jimmy Hernandez) – 64th min.
GERMANTOWN, Md. – It was business as usual for the reigning Metro DC-Virginia Open Cup Champion Dulles Sportplex Aegean Hawks (DC/VA) today as the Washington club handily defeated visiting Oak Avalon (PA West) 3-1 in their USASA Region I Open Cup quarterfinal. The win sees the Hawks advance to the semifinal round where they will face the Maryland Bays on May 4.
If not for the heroics of Oak Avalon’s goalkeeper, Dustin Walker, the score line could have easily been much higher in favor of the Aegean Hawks. Walker – a Penn State Erie graduate – proved to the most important player on the field as he singled handedly prevented the game from becoming a rout, a performance that Aegean Hawks player/ assistant coach Watson Vaughn-Prather called “fantastic.” In the end, his efforts were for naught as the more experienced Hawks found ways to put the ball into the net, as David Rosenbaum, Scott Larrabee, and Gui Fonseca were able to notch goals to send the Washington club through to the next round.
After some pregame pleasantries between former Pittsburgh Riverhounds teammates Devlin Barnes (Aegean Hawks), Anthony Calvano, and John Liersemann (both of Oak Avalon), the game got underway just after 3 p.m. at the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown, Md.
From the first whistle, the Hawks dictated the tempo of the game, which according to Vaughn-Prather, was part of the Washington club’s game plan. It did not take long for the Hawks to find the back of the net as Rosenbaum got on the end of a cross, found himself alone in the left side of the box, and blasted a mouthwatering shot near post beating Oak Avalon’s Walker for the game’s first tally in the 5th minute.
Following the game’s opening goal, the Hawks repeatedly made deep runs into Oak Avalon’s final third during the game’s first quarter hour, as the visiting Pennsylvania club looked overwhelmed and off balance. As the game progressed, Oak Avalon settled in and eventually created chances of their own, though their forays always sputtered while Walker who kept them in the game by continually turning away shots, which left the home team frustrated to only be up by one goal at the half.
Oak Avalon started the second half much more in control than the first, but could not get a shot on target, despite constantly controlling the ball in the Hawks’ half. The breakthrough finally came in the 63rd minute as Paul Paradise scored to level the game at 1-1.
The stalemate did not last long as Paradise’s goal proved the motivation the Hawks needed to perform at their highest level. Larrabee, finally got a shot past Oak Avalon’s Walker two minutes later to put the home team back on top 2-1.
Play began to get scrappy after the Hawks’ second goal as Oak Avalon realized that Larrabee’s goal decisively pushed the momentum of the game in the Hawks’ favor. Oak Avalon tried in vain to equalize for the next fifteen minutes, but always failed to find an opening in the host’s competent back four. The entrance of substitute Alex Herrera in the 80th minute proved to be the death knell for the tiring Pennsylvania club, as the speedy winger repeatedly took advantage of Oak Avalon’s often absent left back to control the ball deep in Avalon’s half giving the Pennsylvania club zero opportunity to mount an attack.
With momentum on their side, and a slew of substitutes in the game – including DC United academy product Parnell Hegngi – the Aegean Hawks took advantage of the fact that Avalon traveled with just 12 players, wearing them out as the game went on and dominating the final 20 minutes.
Fonseca decisively put the game away in stoppage time after he broke through several defenders to earn a one-on-one opportunity with the Avalon goalkeeper. Fonseca, a Santos academy product, danced around a fast encroaching Walker inside the box and calmly slotted home a left footed shot in the six yard box to give the Aegean Hawks a 3-1 lead in stoppage time to secure the win.
The win sends the Aegean Hawks into the semifinal round of Region I qualifying, one that Vaughn-Prather feels his team is more than ready to play. When asked how the competition in the Washington Premier League prepared the Hawks for this game, Vaughn-Prather responded, “It’s a competitive league that keeps us fit and allows us to compete in Open Cup qualifiers.”
AEG: David Rosenbaum – 5th min.
OAK: Paul Paradise – 63rd min.
AEG: Scott Larrabee – 65th min.
AEG: Gui Fonseca – 90th min.+
OAK: Andres Lopez (Yellow) – 45th min.
AEG: Watson Vaughn-Prather (Yellow) – 79th min.
2014 USASA REGION I OPEN CUP QUARTERFINALS
MARYLAND BAYS (MD) 3:1 WEST CHESTER UNITED (EAST PA)
By Michael Berton | @MichaelBerton
In a battle between two teams that had never won a USASA Region I Open Cup game, the Maryland Bays overcame an early deficit to defeat Pennsylvania hosts West Chester United by a 3-1 score.
West Chester won the Eastern Pennsylvania championship for a third year running, but had been knocked out in the quarterfinal round of the Region I tournament in each of its previous two attempts. Maryland won its third state championship in its last four attempts, but similarly had yet to win a regional game.
United got off to a quick start on its home turf. An 8th minute corner kick was cleared out of the Bays penalty box, but only as far as United winger Justin McCall. With time and space, McCall shot from 25 yards out, curling the ball into the right side-netting.
That lead was short-lived however, as Maryland’s Elton Joe sped past the West Chester defense in the 11th minute and easily slotted the ball past the United keeper. Joe’s speed would prove to be an issue for the home side throughout the contest.
Each side had several more close chances in the first half, but the game remained tied 1-1 at the break. The second half was a different story though. According to West Chester head coach Blaise Santangelo, a mixture of tired legs and missing players gave his squad some problems, which showed in a second half dominated by the Maryland champions.
Maryland got the eventual game-winner just six minutes into the second stanza. Once again, a Bays player ran through the middle of the West Chester defense for an easy goal. This time, it was former Loyola University Maryland player Glenn Leitch with the goal.
The game gradually got more physical, culminating in a red card for United’s Aaron Thomas, who got involved in an altercation in the middle of the field in the 67th minute. Maryland made the home team pay seven minutes later, when Joe’s blazing speed got him past the defense. His cross found Chris Weaver, who pushed the ball in from six yards out.
Maryland was able to calmly see out the remainder of the game, and in the process won a Region I game for the first time. The Bays will take on DC/VA champions Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks in the semifinals on May 4.
Bronx, N.Y. – In a performance worthy of those usually seen in Ballsbridge or Parkhead, Lansdowne Bhoys defeated Newtown Pride FC by a score of 5-1. Representing Eastern New York in the USASA Region I quarterfinal, Lansdowne added to a season of dominant displays with their win over Newtown, who were representing the Connecticut State Soccer Association.
The scoring started early in the first half as Lansdowne earned a penalty, which was coolly converted by midfielder and captain Stephen Roche. Lansdowne midfielder Cian McBrien added to the tally with a goal off a pass from forward Dwayne Reid. McBrien added another goal just before halftime, to make the score 3-0 to Lansdowne.
The second half started slow, with both teams struggling to create good scoring chances. Lansdowne maintained possession and Newtown looked to counter, which they eventually did through a goal by Colin Jackson.
With the score now 3-1, Lansdowne knew they had to finish what they started and they did. Lansdowne pushed the pace once again and came up with a fourth goal by Reid. Midfielder Sikele Sylvester added another for Lansdowne just before the end to make the score 5-1 and seal the win for the Eastern New York champions.
Lansdowne president and ESPN commentator Tommy Smyth was among the supporters who were there to cheer on their club. It’s been a dominant season thus far for the Bronx-based Irish-American club, with many terrific performances in the various Eastern New York and USASA competitions.
Currently top of the East group in Division 1 of the Cosmopolitan League with 36 points from 12 wins and only 1 loss, Lansdowne have been the story of the season thus far throughout amateur soccer in the region.
Austin Friel, the player/manager for Lansdowne said after the game, “it was another terrific performance by the lads. Newtown have a very good team, but the lads showed once again the quality that we possess. It’s a special group and it’s been a special season thus far, but we need to keep going with so many important matches coming up. We also want to thank our supporters and sponsors, who’ve been behind us all the way.”
Stephen Roche, the Lansdowne captain said, “I’m very proud of the effort the lads put in today. We pressed them from the word go and looked like we could score every time we had the ball. We will respect our next opponent, but are full of confidence.”
USASA Region 1 national cup commissioner Gus Xikis said, “Lansdowne looked really good today and are a great representative of Eastern New York. I can’t wait to see how they progress throughout the competition. Whether it’s Lansdowne or another club, Region 1 will be well represented at this year’s National Finals in Salt Lake City.”
Lansdowne Bhoys will play the winner of AC Blaugrana (R.I.) vs Icon FC (N.J.) on Sunday, May 4 in the USASA Region I semifinal.
2014 USASA Region I Open Cup qualifying
(Home teams on right)
Preliminary Round (April 6)
AC Blaugrana (RI) L:W Mass Premier Soccer (MA)
ACB won original match 2-0, but were DQ’d for use of ineligble player
Quarterfinals (April 6)
Newtown Pride FC (CT) 1:5 Lansdowne Bhoys FC (East NY)
Maryland Bays (MD) 3:1 West Chester United (East PA)
Oak Avalon (West PA) 1:3 Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (DC/VA)
Icon FC (NJ) at Mass Premier Soccer (MA) – April 13, 2 p.m. at Framingham State College
Semifinals (May 4)
Lansdowne Bhoys (East NY) at Icon FC / Mass Premier winner
Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (CT) at Maryland Bays (MD)
Final (June 15)
Teams TBD – Winner qualifies for 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup