Players from International Portland Select celebrate one of their goals in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifying match against JASA RWC. Photo: Ben McFarland
Used with permission from Protagonist Soccer
For the second time in as many months, a United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) side from California made the trip up to Portland, Oregon for a US Open Cup qualifying match. In October, International Portland Select FC (ISPFC) held off Nevada Coyotes 5-4 and with a little luck of the draw, were picked to host JASA RWC in Round 3. JASA, a winner of their previous qualifier as well, and top of their UPSL Wild West South Division, brought their good form and all black kits to Buckman Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Sunday, Nov. 18.
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, IPS would survive a second half comeback by JASA and advance to Round 4 with a 3-2 win. With the victory, IPS moves one step closer to becoming the first Oregon-based Open Division Local club to qualify for the US Open Cup in the Modern Era (1995-present).
Players from International Portland Select and JASA RWC battle for the ball in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifying match. Photo: Ben McFarland
It had been clear all day, and at the time of kickoff, the crisp fall Portland evening had dipped to just around 47 degrees. IPS playing from west-to-east, came out in their red shirts and white shorts, in what appeared to be a 4-4-2 placing Nathaniel Pogue and Alcides “Paco” Thomas up top. Dangermen, Saydee and Hernandez were on their respective wings for the Portland side. For JASA, goalscorers Ryan Masch and Ugo Uche, who’ve combined for six scores in two previous US Open Cup matches, were joined on the pitch by James Huffer (scorer of the 87th minute sealer in the previous round).
Within minutes, JASA had earned a corner kick, but it was cleared and IPS nearly scored on an effort by Nathaniel Pogue. Early on, IPS was pushing on in the attack and creating multiple chances—Alcides Thomas was playing with some bravado until he collided with JASA’s goal keeper and was given the yellow for his efforts. JASA seemed to shift to a higher line of encounter and began to turn the screw—by the midway point of the first half, the match had become a back-and-forth battle.
IPS had earned themselves several corner kicks and JASA had found ways to clear them, but in the 34th minute, the visitors from Redwood City, Calif. couldn’t clear it far enough and Joaquim Capuia smashed a drive from just outside the 18-yard box which beat the keeper to his right. Down a goal, with just over 10 minutes in the half, JASA pushed on and nearly had a great opportunity in the 43rd minute when Uche finally got free on a great run—however, he was called to be in an offside position and IPS were given possession back. Due to quite a few stoppages, there were nearly five minutes in time added on; IPS nearly took advantage of that added time in the 47th with a flurry of shots on goal, but JASA’s keeper, Victory Meraz and his backline were able to withstand the pressure and go into the half only down by one.
The sides switched directions and the second half action picked up right away; Eric Hernandez went from being a threat down the left-hand side, to being entirely too much to handle for JASA. After a few hard challenges along he sideline in previous spells, Hernandez broke in to the box and slowed down just enough to draw a hard bit of contact and the penalty was given. He was able to take the spot-kick himself and put his side up 2-0 in the 50th minute. JASA seemed to lose the plot and just a minute later, Pogue provided a pass to Paco Thomas, who slotted it home with a low shot to the keeper’s left … IPSFC were cruising 3-0 in only the 52nd minute.
IPS continued to push for an increased advantage, and once again there was a collision with the JASA goalie, Meraz, this time he stayed down just a little bit longer. While he eventually got up, JASA made a change and brought on Vazquez-Flores for Angell and what seems like moments later, in the 58th minute, JASA put together a wild play resulting in a laser-header for James Huffer.
Play continued in see-saw fashion until the 67th minute, when Ugo Uche broke free on the left side again, but this time his service was finished and Huffer earned his brace, helping the visitors cut the lead to just one goal with less than a half hour to go. If it was chippy before, it certainly picked up for the last stanza of the game.
JASA captain, Ivan Maric, earned his yellow card; IPS goal scorer, Eric Hernandez received one as well. After a series of substitutions, it seems that either JASA was reluctant to use their last sub or they might have been out of them, but they were reduced to 10 players for a few minutes while Huffer recovered from a cramp on the sideline. IPS nearly struck again, with a free kick from Thomas, which sizzled past the goal frame. Pogue was then issued a yellow after a full-blooded collision with a JASA defender and on the ensuing play, JASA nearly squared it up.
Once the match was called, all of the in-match frustrations disappear and both sides reacted respectfully to see each other off the pitch.
JASA RWC are currently at the top of their table in the UPSL Wild West South and will host the Oakland Stompers on Saturday, Nov. 24 for the division title. IPSFC finished their OPSL season in second place and will play a playoff match on Nov. 27 at Buckman Field. It looks as though IPS will have to wait to see their fate, as not all of the Third Round qualifiers have completed and there is an existing possibility that changes to the qualifying process may have to be implemented to allow for changes to the number of professional teams entering in the first round. The deadline for professional teams to enter the Open Cup is Dec. 31 and until the total number of teams is determined, there is no solid answer on situation surrounding the amateur sides.