After trouncing third division side Wilmington Hammerheads 4-0 in the second round, USASA powerhouse Cal FC scraped by MLS’ Portland Timbers 1-0 in added time to advance in US Open Cup play. This keeps the demise of MLS sides in USOC at exactly 50% in the third round, factoring in Seattle’s dominance over the Atlanta Silverbacks last night in Tukwilla.
Now, when I say “USASA powerhouse”, this needs context. Eric Wynalda, former US National Team legend, MLS All-Star, and National Soccer Hall of Famer, manages and “coaches” Cal FC in Thousand Oaks, CA. The squad is made up of a few former MLS trialists along with several “high school and college legends” that played the sport for fun. After all, USASA is an adult amateur league, not pro or semi-pro like the top four divisions of American soccer. Cal FC advanced into the 2012 Open Cup by going undefeated in the USASA Region IV tournament to decide representatives for the region.
Last night’s performance was anything but perfect for either side. Portland managed 43 shots throughout the game, but most were wide of the mark or straight at Cal goalkeeper Darby Carrillo. Portland found a chance to go ahead with a Kris Boyd PK later in the second, but the all-time leading scorer in the Scottish Premier League managed to live up to negative expectations here in the US by putting the shot over the crossbar.
Wynalda said after the game that he “…was already thinking it wasn’t their night. But you don’t see that every day, a player like Kris Boyd missing a penalty kick.”
In added time, Cal FC cranked up the counter attack, and the break finally came through with an ArturAghasyan strike. The 95′ tally was enough for the win, as both teams showed the fatigue. But Portland turned on the pressure late in the second added time period. Cal FC managed a few more almost-successful counter attacks, but to no avail. After 120 minutes of soccer, the 5th division side from Thousand Oaks were the victors.
Many think that this result was bound to happen, considering how good of a team Wynalda is fielding in Cal FC. But the amateurs were playing a largely First XI team from Portland, and manager John Spencer publicly stated that he wasn’t taking Cal lightly. So is this more of the epidemic I was talking about yesterday? Or is this just a really good amateur side that knows how to kill giants?
We’ll see next Tuesday when Cal FC takes on Seattle Sounders in Tukwilla. I’m sure all eyes will be on that match.