FC LVU Sonic and GPS Portland Phoenix represent the class of their respective leagues, playing for pride and recognition and perhaps the opportunity to play against one of “the big boys” of American soccer. Could either side be the Cal FC of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup? Considering the talent level of both sides, a long run in this tourney is certainly a real possibility.
Sonic is no stranger to the Open Cup, having made an appearance the past three seasons. The team would like to see different results this time around as they lost the opening match each year, falling to the Brooklyn Italians (2011), Long Island Rough Riders (2012), and Reading United (2013).
The team is no stranger when it comes to hardware, landing the NPSL National Championship in 2012 and winning the Northeast Region title last year.
Dave Weitzman’s squads are always competitive and that is certainly the case here thanks to a talented cast of returning players and newcomers. 2012 NPSL Goalkeeper of the Year Charlie Sales (56 saves in 2013) leads the defensive effort along with defenders Julian Plummer and Nick Hutchinson. Sonic’s potent attack is led by Tom Mustac (team-leading seven goals in 2013) and Matt Baker (led the team with seven assists in 2013). The team is further boosted by the return of former pro Toric Robinson, who spent time in USL PRO with the Dayton Dutch Lions and Antigua Barracuda FC.
“There is a rich tradition of soccer in the Lehigh Valley, from the Bethlehem Steel days when they won consecutive U.S. Open Cups in the 20s and 30s to the PA Stoners winning a national championship in the ASL,” Weitzman said. “Our organization wants very much to continue ‘growing the game’ in the Lehigh Valley.”
But this match is not going to be an easy one as Sonic has a long travel day to Portland, Maine and a very tough opponent when they arrive there.
GPS Portland Phoenix, which finished with a 7-3-4 record in the PDL last season, is an intriguing team. They made it to the 2nd round of the Open Cup last year, losing out to the Rochester Rhinos.
The GPS attack was led by Pierre Omanga (11 goals) and Sean Rosa (9 assists) last season. Striker McKauly Tulloch, who won hardware with Jamaican side Harbour View FC, and midfielder Jonathan Remond, known for his technical ability and dangerous left foot, are expected to make an impact in Wednesday’s match.
Head coach Ally Bain’s squad will look to employ a 4-4-2 formation that is based on possession and penetrating their opponent’s defense through their dynamic attackers.
It is an important match for both sides, a chance to represent their communities, players, and leagues.
“It is extremely important to us as we are Maine’s sole representing club,” Bain declared. “We want to progress our own standing in the competition, but also want to represent Maine soccer at a national level.”
This is just one of the exciting matchups to take place on Wednesday.
Detroit City FC is looking forward to their game with RWB Adria in Livonia, Michigan. DCFC, coming out of the highly competitive Great Lakes Conference, finished the 2013 NPSL season with 11 wins and just 1 draw.
While Adria is an unknown quantity, that is certainly not the case with Le Rouge.
“Zach Myers has the ability score goals and is always a force in the attack, and three-year captain Josh Rogers is a leader and stalwart in the backline,” DCFC head coach Ben Pirmann commented. “There are five or six newcomers that could really help DCFC in a tough match against Adria.”
This game is a real milestone for a club that has found great success on and off the field. It is a special moment for the club’s passionate fans and supporters.
“In our third season of existence, this is our first time in the U.S. Open Cup,” DCFC co-owner Alex Wright remarked. “We are proud to be able to take this step, and believe is it a testament to our our players’ and coaching staff’s commitment to the team and our sponsors’ and supporters’ passion for the club.”
Having the game away from the team’s fortress at Cass Tech HS is unlikely to change the gameday environment or the number of supporters in the stands.
“Our supporters and players always know what they can look forward to at our home games, the best soccer atmosphere in the Midwest,” Wright concluded.
Wednesday will also see Simon Nee’s New York Red Bulls U-23s facing off against the Vermont Voltage of the PDL. Last year the Red Bulls finished with a 7-2-2 record with John Gurel (six goals) and Scott Thomsen (four assists) leading the attack.
There are two worthwhile matchups in the West Region. The undefeated San Diego Flash face off against Corinthians USA from U.S. Club Soccer, while CD Aguiluchos USA will travel to Ventura to take on the PDL’s Ventura County Fusion.
Corinthians are led by head coach Jorge Ferreira da Silva, also known as Palhinha. He is a retired Brazilian footballer best known for his time with São Paulo, where he was the top scorer in the Copa Libertadores in 1992.
Jadilson, Glenisson, Leonardo, and Marvin Iraheta are expected to be key contributors against the Flash, who counter with former New England Revolution midfielder Ryan Guy.
San Diego also boasts perhaps the best 1-2 goalkeeping combo in the league with James Stroud and former LA Blues keeper Aaron Perez.
The Flash are off to a hot start, currently leading the Southwest Conference with 19 points. Their attack has been particularly potent, the result being an incredible +21 goal differential. San Diego is fresh off yet another dominating performance, defeating the Santa Clarita Storm 6-2 on Friday night.