As I did much of last year, I was excited to be invited back to Soccer House, headquarters of the U.S. Soccer Federation, for Thursday’s third round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw.
I was joined on Prairie Street by Indy Eleven President Peter Wilt, who was there to witness his club’s first Open Cup coin flip.
If you read some of my Open Cup draw articles last year, you might have seen a very complicated process which involved bigger groupings of geographical possibilities, numbering pieces of paper and drawing from envelopes before any coins were flipped.
None of that was the case on Thursday as Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller was able to fit all potential third round matchups in to "logical geographic pairings" so only coin flips needed to take place.
For the Open Cup nerds out there, this may disappoint you and if you'd rather go no further, I suggest you just read U.S. Soccer's official release on the potential third round pairings. If you would still like to know some of the interesting intricacies of the day's happenings, keep reading:
- Five lower-league professional sides did not apply to host third round matches: USL PRO's Harrisburg City Islanders, Orange County Blues, Arizona United SC, Oklahoma City Energy FC and NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks.
- As they did last year, USL PRO's Dayton Dutch Lions did apply to host but their field does not meet U.S. Soccer's competition requirements (a common theme here). Their second round opponent, North Chicago side Schwaben AC also applied to host but their venue does not meet requirements as well.
- Why would both clubs apply to host if they didn't meet requirements? While it's unlikely it would happen, supposing the opponent that pair was matched up with also didn't meet field or venue requirements or didn't apply to host, U.S. Soccer could then award hosting rights to either club. In the case of Dayton/Schwaben, because Indy Eleven applied to host and their home venue meets requirements, a coin flip did not occur for this matchup.
- Another interesting example of this was on the last flip of the round in the matchup of Cal FC / LA Galaxy II and PSA Elite / San Diego Flash. Of the four teams, only LA Galaxy II's venue met requirements, while both PSA Elite and San Diego Flash applied to host although neither team's field met requirements. So in the case that Cal FC won, the winner of the PSA Elite / San Diego Flash match would host a third round match up by default.
With USL PRO's Charleston Battery having the only suitable host venue in their potential match up (they play the PDL's Panama City Pirates in Round 2), they automatically were rewarded hosting rights should they advance to a third round matchup against the winner of Jacksonville United FC / Orlando City U23s. Jacksonville United did apply to host but their home venue was deemed not to fit stadium requirements. However, should Charleston lose and Jacksonville win, the NPSL side would host Panama City in the third round. Should both Panama City and Orlando City win, because neither applied for hosting rights, U.S. Soccer would quickly quoroum with both clubs to figured out a host for a third round match.
- USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads applied to host but their field was also deemed unsuitable. Paired with NPSL's Chattanooga FC in the second round, should Wilmington win, they would host by default as Atlanta Silverbacks did not apply to do so.
- Because of some of these differing scenarios, coin flips did not occur as matchups defaulted to a suitable host team.
Complete Third Round U.S. Open Cup Grid (as I saw it today).
BOLD: Applied to host; Venue meets requirements
ITALICS: Applied to host, Field width doesn't meet requirements
BOLD ITALICS: Applied to host; Venue doesn't meet requirements
N/A - Matchups where coin flips did not occur because of hosting defaults
|Greater Binghamton Thunder (NPSL)/Reading United (PDL)||W. Mass. Pioneers (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)||X|
|Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)/Jersey Express (PDL)||New York Cosmos (NASL)||X|
|NY Greek Americans (USASA)/Ocean City Nor'easters (PDL)||X||Richmond Kickers (USLP)/RVA FC (NPSL)|
|Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Lehigh Valley Utd. (NPSL)||X||Icon FC (USASA)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL)|
|NY Red Bulls U-23 (NPSL)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP)||X||RWB Adria (USASA)/Michigan Bucks (PDL)|
|Carolina Dynamo (PDL)/Charlotte Eagles (USLP)||Carolina Railhawks (NASL)||X|
|Wilmington Hammerheads (USLP)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)||N/A||Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)|
|Jacksonville United (NPSL)/Orlando City U23s (PDL)||Panama City Pirates (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)||N/A|
|Ocala Stampede (PDL)/Orlando City (USLP)||x||Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)|
|Red Force (USASA)/Laredo Heat (PDL)||Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL)||X|
|Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Schwaben AC (USASA)||Indy Eleven (NASL)||N/A|
|NTX Rayados (USASA)/Austin Aztex (PDL)||San Antonio Scorpions (NASL)||N/A|
|Real Colorado Foxes (PDL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA)||X||Minnesota United SC (NASL)|
|Oklahoma City Energy (USLP)/Tulsa Athletics (NPSL)||Arizona United SC (USLP)/Portland Timbers U23 (PDL)||X|
|Orange County Blues (USLP)/Fresno Fuego (PDL)||Sacramento Republic (USLP)/Ventura County Fusion (PDL)||X|
|Cal FC (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USL Pro)||N/A||PSA Elite (USASA)/San Diego Flash (NPSL)|
Thank you again to U.S. Soccer for allowing me to play witness to the draw once again. Chicago-Fire.com plans to bring coverage of the fourth round draw procedure when it occurs next week.
The first round of the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off across the country with seven matches (and a forfeit) Wednesday night.
Of note, three games went to extra time with two of those going to penalty kicks. One of the matches decided in a shootout was that of local side RWB Adria downing NPSL darlings Detroit City FC 3-1 on penalties after playing to a dramatic 2-2 draw.
Hot Time in Old Town's Sean Spence live tweeted the match from Livonia Stevenson High School in suburban Detroit where Adria took an early lead through Vlad Baciu in the 20th minute. Fueled by the always raucous DCFC partisans, the home side took a 2-1 lead with second half goals from Tyler Arnone and former Colorado Rapids defender Kevin Taylor in the 71st and 77th minutes respectively.
Baciu bagged a dramatic brace in the dying moments of regulation to send the match to extra time where both teams saw two players sent off and neither could find a goal in the 30 extra minutes. Adria played the spoiler connecting with three of their penalties to see out Detroit City FC and set up a return date to Detroit next week where they'll face perennial U.S. Open Cup spoilers Michigan Bucks next Wednesday, May 14.
These games should be of interest for Fire fans as the regional groupings make sense for a potential fourth round match up (where MLS teams enter the tournament).
- The tournament saw it's first forfeit in a decade as USASA side Corinthians were forced to withdraw from their match against the San Diego Flash due to not being able to obtain international clearance for their players in time to play the match. TheCup.US has more information on this intriguing story.
- Kudos to U.S. Soccer for upping their coverage of the tournament this year by introducing a "Game of the Round" which streamed on the Federation's official site Wednesday night. The chosen match saw the USL Premier Development League's Western Mass Pioneers down USASA side GPS Massachusetts 4-1 to advance to the second round. Catch the archive of the match here.
- With the first round done and second round matches set, U.S. Soccer will conduct the tournament's third round draw at Soccer House in Chicago this afternoon. Chicago-Fire.com will once again be a witness at the festivities and have a full account of how the matchups happened later Thusday.
Off the beaten Fire path today is the historic news that Helena Costa, a successful female coach who has guided the likes of the Iranian and Qatari women's national teams has been given the management reigns of French Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot for next season.
With the news, the Portuguese manager becomes the highest-profile female manager of a men's team in European football history.
Clermont Foot's official statement on the appointment said, "It should help the club enter a new era."
Costa has also served in scouting roles for Portuguese and Scottish giants Benfica and Celtic respectively as well as managing lower league Portuguese sides Cheleirense and Odivelas.
Clermont Foot sit 14th in the Ligue 2 table with two matches to play. They'll secure their place in the league for next season with a draw in one of their final two games home vs. Troyes (May 9) and away to Tours (May 15).
What do you think of the news? How long do you think it'll be before a female manager is considered for a job in Major League Soccer? As of today, who would be your top candidate?
If you're any type of soccer nerd, you may know the record for most lopsided defeat in a FIFA national team match match came on April 11, 2001 when an Australian side pushing to move outside of the Oceanic Football Confederation made a point by defeating tiny American Samoa 31-0.
Needless to say, the defeat brought large embarrassment to the tiny U.S. territory whose population is just a hair over 55,000.
Enter former D.C. United, Toronto FC and U.S. U-20 coach Thomas Rongen who threw connections with the U.S. Soccer Federation took the reigns for American Samoa during OFC qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Dutchman worked wonders by leading the small nation to its first ever international win when they defeated Tonga 2-1 in their opening match of qualifying.
American Samoa tied their second match 1-1 vs. Cook Island and narrowly missed advancing out of the group, falling to Samoa 1-0 in the 89th minute of their final match.
While the side didn't advance, cameras followed Rongen throughout his short stint leading the team and made the movie "Next Goal Wins" which recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
This is where you come in... There will be a local screening of the film at the Regal Gardens 7-13 in Skokie on Wednesday, May 21 at 7:30pm. In order for it to happen, the theater needs RSVPs by the end of the day Wednesday.
Tickets are just $10.50 and can be purchased by clicking here.
WATCH the trailer for the film below:
The Chicago Fire were honored to have a very special guest take part in the club's First Kick at Saturday night's game vs. Real Salt Lake.
Jack received a liver transplant from Lurie Children's Hospital when he was five months old. Now in Kindergarten, Jack is a healthy five-year-old who plays AYSO soccer with his team the Blue Bombers.
Check out this video of Jack's experience from Saturday's match:
With his goal in Saturday's match vs. Real Salt Lake, Fire forward Mike Magee continued to climb the club's goal scoring charts at an impressive clip.
The 22nd minute rebound on Harry Shipp's initial shot was Magee's 17th for the Fire in MLS play, tying him with footballing legend Hristo Stoitchkov at 10th on the club's all-time goal scoring list. But for his 63rd minute hit off the cross bar, Magee nearly moved into a tie for 10th on the list with Brian McBride, Dominic Oduro and Chad Barrett.
Here's an infographic detailing where Magee stands, with the important stat being how quickly he's gotten there compared to those around him.
As you can see from the chart below, nearly every goal Magee scores this year will move him further up the ladder, underlying that the club really hasn't had a long-term scoring threat since Ante Razov left the team after 2004. How high on the chart below do you think Magee can go by season's end? Tell us in the comments below.
|Rank||Player (Years)||Goals||Games Played|
Check out different angles and slow mo versions of Mike Magee & Juan Luis Anangono's first half goals from Saturday's match vs. Real Salt Lake:
It's Throwback Thursday on the Social Media which lines up for an interesting moment in Fire History that occured this week in 2001.
Coming up on the end of his career, legendary U.S. international Eric Wynalda was acquired by the Fire in a trade with New England that sent John Wolyniec and a 2002 SuperDraft pick to the Revolution on May 3 of that year.
At the time, Wynalda was the all-time leading goal scorer for the U.S. Men's National Team (34 goals) but injuries and national team commitments had kept him from really making an impact for his previous MLS clubs in San Jose, Miami and New England.
Bolstering a Fire attack which already featured the likes of Ante Razov, Hristo Stoitchkov, Piotr Nowak and DaMarcus Beasley, Wynalda joined the team a month into the campaign and took just two days to score his first goal for the club in a 2-0 win over Tampa Bay on May 5. That goal was the first of 10 he scored in less than a full season with the Fire (the first time he'd done it since the inaugural MLS campaign in 1996). He also added two more in the Open Cup and a single marker in the MLS Cup playoffs.
That would be his only season with the Fire and curtain call in MLS but his double-digit goal campaign makes him one of just seven Chicago Fire players to achieve the feat. (Can you name the others? Answer below the photo...)
Though he played only one season for the Fire, Wynalda went into the National Soccer Hall of Fame as a Fire player in 2004, joining former U.S. teammates Paul Caligiuri and Mike Windischmann as well as Women's National Team legend Michelle Akers in that year's induction class.
ANSWER: All-Time Chicago Fire double digit goal scorers: Ante Razov (1998-2000, 2002-2003), Damani Ralph (2003-2004), Eric Wynalda (2001), Josh Wolff (1999), Dema Kovalenko (2000), Dominic Oduro (2011), Mike Magee (2013)
Now into it's second season, the MLS and USL PRO partnership is going well with 11 MLS sides currently affiliated with lower league teams, allowing younger players or those at the ends of MLS benches the ability to gain more playing time in meaningful matches at the USL level.
From the Fire end, we've seen the other side of the USL PRO partnership this past week, as the club's Reserve side played two matches against the Rochester Rhinos and Charlotte Eagles with the games counting in both the MLS Reserve Standings as well as the USL PRO table. With MLS mandating that all clubs either need to have an affiliation or begin a separate team in the USL PRO division by 2015, the Fire and seven other MLS sides will surely have this in the forefront this year.
A look at the current MLS/USL PRO affiliations:
|USL PRO Club||MLS Club|
|Arizona United SC||-|
|Charleston Battery||Vancouver Whitecaps|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||Columbus Crew|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||Philadelphia Union|
|LA Galaxy II||LA Galaxy|
|Oklahoma City Energy||Sporting KC|
|Orange County Blues||-|
|Orlando City SC||Sporting KC**|
|Pittsburgh Riverhounds||Houston Dynamo|
|Richmond Kickers||D.C. United|
|Rochester Rhinos||New England Revolution|
|Sacramento Republic||Portland Timbers & San Jose Earthquakes|
|Wilmington Hammerheads||Toronto FC|
**Sporting KC will have main affiliation with Oklahoma City beginning next season when Orlando City joins MLS
Last month Fire Technical Director Brian Bliss spoke to reporters about the headway the club has made on finding a USL PRO affiliate and specifically mentioned that the club held talks with the owners of Arizona United SC as well as a group in Milwaukee looking to launch a new USL PRO club in the near future and other possible cities in the Midwest.
The Colorado Switchbacks and Tulsa Roughnecks, two other clubs that could fit that "Midwest" mold, are already set to begin play in USL PRO next season while the USL Premier Development League's Michigan Bucks are also making noise about a move up to the professional level.
But what other Midwest cities could make sense for a Chicago Fire affiliation? Where does a soccer hotbed like St. Louis fall in all of this? What about Grand Rapids, Cleveland, Cincinnati or even Des Moines, Iowa?
Where would you most like to see a Fire USL PRO affiliation heading into the 2015 season? Tell us below:
Racist chants and actions are nothing new in the world of soccer.
And while different campaigns and the simple spectre of time have helped a great deal in stampinig out racism in the game, shameful incidents do still occur.
See Barcelona's game this weekend at Villareal. Trailing 2-1 in the 76th minute, defender Dani Alves was set to take a corner kick when a banana was thrown just in front of him. Rather than ignore the act, Alves picked up the banana, ate a piece and took the corner kick... See below:
Barcelona went on to win the match 3-2, with the tying tally coming off an Alves cross that deflected for a Villareal own goal.
Remembering last summer when Ghanaian international Kevin Prince-Boateng faced down racist chants by walking off the field in a friendly for AC Milan, do you think Alves' reponse to racism was more effective?