This is pretty cool footage from the US Open Cup. Thanks to NESN Soccer for finding this, you can read the full article HERE
First published on IMSoccer News
The USL-Pro Charlotte Eagles continue their run into USOC play with a 2-1 quarterfinal win against the San Antonio Scorpions FC (NASL). The match was locked up at the end of regulation but an extra time penalty was the deciding factor that sees Charlotte advance to take on Chivas USA in the next round.
What FC Dallas slowly learned, the Scorpions quickly realized. Don’t expect the Charlotte Eagles to play like a team from the lower division who is on the road.
The Charlotte Eagles pressed on the gas early and resembled a free flowing offensive minded outfit committed to constantly attacking the opponents goal. In the first 20 minutes, Charlotte created several chances and ended up with seven shots in the first half. Their formation was fluid and resembled a 4-3-3, which switched to a compact formation when on the defensive side of the ball.
“We try to attack, we like to attack, whatever game it is we try to set the tempo and make a statement early and we defend as far as we can, but we’re coming after it,” said head coach Mark Steffens.
But as one would expect, any team who is offensive minded, can be left open to counter attacks and that was certainly the case with Charlotte. In the 16th minute Pablo Campos was released into the box near the byline and centered the ball to a semi-open Esteban Bayona who lazily swung his leg in an attempt to catch Charlotte keeper Irwin Clinton but he was easily in the right place.
Bayona would continue to keep getting involved in the offense at the outset but for all his work, couldn’t find the right connecting pass on several occasions.
Things came to a head for the Eagles when in the 27th minute Charlotte forward Nathan Thornton went on a run from deep within midfield and punished the Scorpions back line for allowing him through unmolested while he powered a 25-yard shot past Scorpions keeper Daryl Sattler. The goal was the first allowed by Sattler in USOC play.
After a few opportunities from the Scorpions, the attack continued for Charlotte and in the 35th minute a corner came in and resulted in a shot on Sattler’s goal who dealt with it but immediately got up and gave his defenders an ear full.
Immediately after on the other end, Pablo Campos was released on the right-hand side of the box from a short pass by Hans Denissen. Campos was patient enough to expertly get round the defender and take a shot toward the opposite side of goal that just rolled into the goalpost and deflected back into the traffic of the oncoming Charlotte defense.
After a yellow on Campos for diving in the box, Bayona was fouled on the left for a free kick. The cross ended up at the head of Campos whose header was saved by Clinton to end the half. The Scorpions were frustrated but they were not defeated and came out immediately in the second with an early shot from Campos once again, on the left side of the box. Campos finished with eight shots on the night and put in a 120 minute performance to score his team’s only goal.
Charlotte never wavered and in the 57th minute Charlotte continued to pester the Scorpions defense and Eagles forward Mauricio Salles broke free from San Antonio defenders and shot low and toward the feet of Sattler who smothered the ball.
Scorpions winger, Walter Ramirez, was putting in an encouraging effort on the left flank and even assumed defensive duties in order to allow Blake Wagner, at left back, to move forward in attack at times.
He wouldn’t finish the match, however, as he was subbed for Javier Saavedra to which he exited the game visibly disappointed. Meanwhile, Hans Denissen was replaced due to injury, and Esteban Bayona was replaced by Fabian Kling, who usually plays as a defender.
Despite the changes, in the 73rd minute, Scorpions midfielder, Jonathan Greenfield, pounced on a misplaced pass and rifled a shot on goal forcing Irwin to save wide. The resulting corner was cleared but ended up at the feet of Javier Saavedra, on the right, who sent the ball to the opposite side where campos leaped over two defenders to just direct the ball toward the ground where it rolled just out of reach of a Charlotte defender to equalize, 1-1.
Just as the Scorpions finished celebrating, Charlotte advanced the ball from their own half at lightning quick speed and shot the ball from a forced turnover in San Antonio’s box almost instantly going ahead if it weren’t for Sattler’s quick reaction save.
The play between Charlotte midfielder Juan Guzman and forwards, Mauricio Salles and Darryl Roberts proved to be dangerous throughout the night for San Antonio.
After that, Wes Knight rescued the ball deep in midfield and raced toward the box with only Campos to his right. Knight sent Campos into the box, and patiently waited for the return pass. When it was given, he was slightly off balance and shot the ball up and over the bar to finish out regulation time.
Both teams came out slow in extra time, until Wagner went on a tear through the Charlotte defense and shepherded the ball into the box and almost completed a glorious run until the last shot was snuffed out by the defense.
From that point, each team traded blows with creative efforts at both ends of the pitch. Charlotte continued playing with quality on every possession and picked out defensive lapses in the waining minutes to get forward with quite impressive passing into the first period of extra time.
The second period started with more of the same on both ends, and players on both teams were expecting to score at any moment. Until a handball penalty was awarded to Charlotte when Scorpions defender, Ryan Cochrane, handled a low flying cross into the box.
Mauricio Salles stepped up and sent Sattler the wrong way to finish an impressive match deep into extra time.
“We had a number of opportunities but we just couldn’t finish them and that ended up being the difference,” said Scorpions head coach Tim Hankinson.
As the ball was sent into the box, it appeared to skip off the ground and strike Cochrane in the hand but the referee was forced to call the penalty.
“When games go late, referees can decide the result and we need to do better in controlling the result. Let the players finish and decide the result, referees should never decide the result [of the match] and I think that he did tonight,” said Hankinson.
The Charlotte Eagles move into the quarterfinals to face MLS side, Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center in Carson California, Tuesday, June 26th at 7:30 p.m.
“The Home Depot Center will get the guys pumped, it’s a couple of weeks away so we have some time. We’re struggling in the league but I think this will unify our team but we’re excited to play Chivas,” said Charlotte head coach Mark Steffens.
The US Open Cup third round, kicked off Tuesday night with NASL side San Antonio Scorpions FC taking on the Houston Dynamo in a first ever meeting between the two clubs. While the Scorpions are fighting for respect in second division soccer, the Dynamo sit sixth in the Eastern Conference standings for the MLS.
With Houston set to take on La Liga side Valencia on Thursday, Mac Kandji and Cam Weaver got the nod up front and Adam Moffat in midfield with Bobby Boswell in defense.
The Scorpions started their most offensive attacking line-up with Bayona, Campos and Denissen all playing advanced roles with Harmse and Pitchkolan providing cover for the back four which included former Houston Dynamo Ryan Cochrane.
Houston came out looking confident with the ball and had an early chance when Colin Clarke missed a fairly open shot at the six yard line in the second minute of play. After that a couple of early opportunities for the Scorpions ensued but they largely squandered what possession they earned in the beginning phases of the match.
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On the verge of the Scorpions epic contest against two time MLS Champions Houston Dynamo, IMS takes a comprehensive look at US Open Cup match-ups across the soccer landscape in the US.
After a strong second half and playing a man down for most of the match, the SA Scorpions FC earned their way into the second round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-0 win over the Laredo Heat. The club secured passage to advance in the historic tournament and also retained the right to host MLS side the Houston Dynamo.
Many players on the Scorpions roster have US Open Cup and Major League Soccer experience, but for Matt Gold, who spent time living in San Antonio as a youth player, it won’t be his first experience with either a cup environment or against MLS quality talent.
“Last year with TFC (Toronto Football Club) I participated in the Canadian Cup and was also involved with the CONCACAF tournament but this was my first experience with the NASL and US Open Cup.”
Gold, a 43rd pick in the MLS SuperDraft, was involved during the second leg of the semi-final and the first leg of the final for Toronto. He was inserted into the lineup by TFC manager Aron Winter during the latter stages of each match.
He also made his debut in MLS against the Seattle Sounders making two more appearances in league competition and one more appearance during the CONCACAF Champions League. His collegiate career was spent at Ohio State and he also played with the old Austin Aztex U23 PDL side.
Still in his early 20s, Gold believes his ambition relies on his ability to play numerous roles for his team.
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The line up for the Scorpions had starters Denissen and Greenfield back in their traditional roles respectively. San Antonio native, Matt Gold earned a start and played the entire 90 minutes at left back.
The match began with a dull run of play and the Scorpions looked a bit underwhelming to start things off. After a short series of disorganized possession some lazy defensive play for the Scorpions led to a shot on goal in the 5th minute from Laredo Heat forward Greg Mulamba.
Gaining momentum and playing with confidence, the Heat pestered San Antonio into turning the ball over a few times, but even when the PDL side found themselves in possession, they quickly surrendered what little they gained.
The play was slow until the 21st minute when Walter Ramirez broke free on the left flank and fired a shot high and wide. A few minutes later, Ramirez earned a straight red card and was sent off for a clumsy challenge.
The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has undergone some significant changes to the structure of the tournament this year. One major change is the equal selection process that allows teams to host games through the quarterfinals.
Before the tournament began, the potential for a lower-division team to host an MLS team greatly increased thanks to this random selection.
That possibility for the SA Scorpions FC is drawing ever closer as the first ever US Open Cup match for the club is set to kick off next week.
US Soccer announced third round match-ups earlier this week and the Houston Dynamo (MLS) are paired with the winner of the upcoming match against the Scorpions and the Laredo Heat.
“The chance to host an MLS team at Heroes Stadium is great for the team and this city,” said Scorpions team president Michael Hitchcock.
The potential for lower-division teams to host MLS clubs raises the profile of the tournament and allows fans to be exposed to a team from the top league in the country. From a club perspective, players have a chance to test themselves in a familiar setting and opportunities for revenue greatly increase when featuring some of the top players and clubs in the country.
The Houston Dynamo already have a familiar relationship with the Bexar Co. club and should make for an interesting contest.
Speaking of familiarity, the Scorpions take on the Heat for the third time this year with the two prior matches ending in wins (3-0; 3-1) for San Antonio during the preseason, respectively.
The second round match between the SA Scorpions FC (NASL) and the Laredo Heat (USL-PDL) will take place at Blossom Athletic Center on Tuesday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m.
The Laredo Heat and the El Paso Patriots both were victorious in their 1st round US Cup draw respectively.
Second-half substitution Placide Buduri scored two overtime goals to carry the Heat past the ASC New Stars at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas.
Naoyas Aizawa scored two El Paso goals and assisted what proved to be the game-winner by Michael Griego to defeat NTX Rayados at Patriots Stadium in El Paso, Texas.
The contest sees both PDL sides move into the second round of the tournament. The second round will take place Tuesday, May 22nd.
The Laredo Heat will take on the SA Scorpions FC (NASL) at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio, Texas at 7:30 p.m. CT
The El Paso Patriots will take on the Charlotte Eagles (USL-PRO) at Patriots Stadium in El Paso, Texas at 8:00 p.m. MT