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Cal FC shocks Timbers, completes U.S. Open Cup fourth-round field


The U.S. Open Cup dream is still very much alive for Cal FC. 

Former Real Salt Lake forward Artur Aghasyan's goal in the fifth minute of extra time gave the United States Adult Soccer Association side a stunning 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field Wednesday night and sealed the club's unlikely place in the fourth round.

Aghasyan's goal, the first one ever scored by a USASA team against an MLS team, came in the midst of a number of missed chances for the Timbers, none more golden than Kris Boyd's 80th-minute penalty kick, which the Designated Player forward missed badly.

The result capped a round in which half of the MLS participants were eliminated by lower-tier teams, making for some potential deep Cinderella runs. Two amateur sides remain — Cal FC and Michigan Bucks — and two of the fourth-round matchups are guaranteed to be won by non-MLS teams. 

Here are all of the fourth-round matchups for the U.S. Open Cup:

U.S. OPEN CUP FOURTH ROUND (all games June 5)

Carolina RailHawks vs. Chivas USA, 7:07 p.m.

Harrisburg City Islanders vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.

Michigan Bucks vs. Dayton Dutch Lions, 7:30 p.m.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:30 p.m.

San Antonio Scorpions vs. Charlotte Eagles, 8:30 p.m.

Seattle Sounders vs. Cal FC, 10:30 p.m.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Minnesota Stars FC, 11 p.m.


What did you think of this past round of the Open Cup? Are you on the Cal FC bandwagon? Which teams do you see advancing to the quarterfinals?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. C’mon Knuckles. Really, Playah? Did you really go there, Bro.

    “He was a former on field employee for RSL who suited up and played in a few matches.”

    Are you more comfortable with that?

  2. If any of you live in the Central Florida area, I challenge you to come visit Plant City, FL on Saturday nights at the complex behind Hillsborough Community College and take in a couple Mexican League games. I would put money on a few of these teams could compete very well in the USOC tournament. The league is full of Central American immigrants and former and current college and pro players.

    I’m sure there is a ton of similar leagues around the country that MLS/NASL/USL scouts are not even bothering to look for talent. There are guys playing in these leagues that didn’t attend college or even play in any of the high dollar youth/academy clubs because of their families economic situation and thus have fallen through the cracks in not getting noticed.

    In other parts of the world, especially in Central and South America, these are the exact same type of leagues that some of the greatest players were discovered. These leagues provide a player to be as creative as they can because they are not “coached to death”.

    I know I’m a little off topic here, but it all falls into the same scenerio. This tournament could really help this sport explode in this country if taken seriously by MLS teams as well as the smaller pro and amature clubs doing well. In the future I see a situation happening similar to what happend when the AFL and NFL leagues merged or when the NBA and ABA merged. You are going to see the NASL or USL or both become more and more competitive to a point where they will be just as good as any MLS 1st team. NASL and USL teams are beginning to build their own stadiums, their attendances are growing every year. Some of them are even forming their own youth academy systems. ie Orlando City has a full developmental system from 1st team to U23 team all the way down to U6 youth.

  3. This explains the technical background and why they have some success. Although impressive for an amateur club put together in a months time, this should send shock waves around the soccer community in America. Perhaps MLS clubs need to take the CUP more seriously. Also, the tickets for admission seem rather low and I understand the CUP hasn’t developed enough nor does it have the visibility to warrant higher ticket cost.

    I still think, as well as many others that this was a total embarrassment for MLS clubs as a whole and not just the Cal FC vs Portland game, but others too. I guess in the end, this will only further strengthen the game in America.

    Thanks for sharing the background information.

  4. .A little over two months ago U.S. Soccer Hall-of-Famer Eric Wynalda assembled Cal FC, a team whose expressed goal was to make a run in the 99th edition of the nation’s oldest soccer tournament, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

    Cal FC, which is made up of a band of players that didn’t quite stick on the professional rosters of teams throughout U.S. Soccer’s top two divisions as well as lower level clubs in a handful of countries ranging from Mexico to Serbia, has made a run through the first two rounds. Its reward is a third-round date with the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field this Wednesday (7:30pm PT, Webstream at, 750 AM The Game).

    The Path to Portland

    To reach this stage of the tournament, Cal FC (above, in red) began its journey by qualifying for the Open Cup through the U.S. Adult Soccer Association Region IV finals alongside fellow Southern Calinfonia side PSA Elite. Wearing Chicago Fire kits from two seasons ago, Cal FC lost 2-0 to PSA in the USASA Region IV final and were thus sent to Bremerton, Washington to face the Kitsap Pumas of the United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup.

    A 3-1 victory victory over the PDL’s defending champions booked Cal FC a second-round tie at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, N.C. against the Wilmington Hammerheads, who finished runners up in the USL Pro division–the third tier of American professional soccer–last season.

    Faced with their first test against a fully professional side, a nascent Cal FC romped to a 4-0 victory, stunning the Hammerheads as well as Wynalda.

    “Tonight was a good demonstration of what the guys are capable of at times, good and bad,” Wynalda told the Wilmington (N.C.) StarNews after the upset. “All in all, I’m very happy with them. I think they’ve come together remarkably, in a very short span of time.”

    Team Makeup

    Wynalda, a commentator for Fox Soccer Channel, coaches Cal FC with fellow contributer Nick Webster. With the help of L.A. banker and longtime friend Michael Friedman, who acts as the team’s manager, Wynalda filled out Cal FC’s roster with Southern California-based players that had starred at local high schools and colleges, but hadn’t permanently latched on with professional teams.

    “This team is mainly formed from this local area – Thousand Oaks – that went to college and came back,” Friedman told in an earlier interview. “Then we held a tryout and the players that came out surprised us. The talent is really high.”

    The team played all of five games together in La Gran Liga De Oxnard, winning two and losing three, before entering the seven-team USASA Region IV tournament that qualified it for the Open Cup.

    Despite playing so little together, the Cal FC players have developed a team bond and chemistry derived from a familiarity from often having played against one another in the numerous Los Angeles area soccer circles.

    Players of Note

    The team features two pair of brothers, Paulo and Pedro Ferreira-Mendez and the potent Colombian-born, midfield duo of Diego and Danny Barrera. Both the Barreras have played in the PDL, gone on trials in Europe (with Danny spending last season in Serbia with first division side FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda) and have seen time in the U.S. youth national team setup with the U-18 team.

    Danny is currently tied as the Open Cup’s leading scorer with four goals to his name; he scored two each against Kitsap and Wilmington.

    Not far behind Danny in Cal FC’s scoring ranks is Artur Aghasyan with two goals. Most recently Aghasyan had trials with MLS sides Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA, and the Armenian import has also seen time with the Armenian National Team at the U-19, U-20 and U-23 age levels.

    Other players who have spent time on the fringes of MLS squads include former UCLA standout Eder Arreola who was a first-round pick of the Houston Dynamo in January’s 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft as well as Mike Randolph, the oldest player on Cal FC’s roster at 26.

    Randolph’s first professional team was none other than the USL version of the Portland Timbers. He made 25 appearances for the club in 2006 and was one of three finalists for the USL First Division Rookie of the Year award. His early displays earned him a shot with the LA Galaxy, for whom he eventually made 39 appearances over two seasons.

    Richard Menjivar, a midfielder, played at Cal State Bakersfield as a transfer from Evansville. He recently was part of the the El Salvador Men’s National Team U-23 squad that drew 3-3 against the U.S. U-23 team earlier this spring–a result that knocked the U.S. out of the 2012 Olympic group qualifying stage.

    With a one-and-done tournament set-up, both teams will be vying to move on to the fourth round where the winner will take on the victor of the Seattle Sounders FC vs. Atlanta Silverbacks match which is also happening Wednesday night in Tukwila, WA.

    Starting at $10, tickets for the Timbers’ U.S. Open Cup match are available for purchase at the JELD-WEN Field box office, area Ticketmaster locations, online at or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

  5. The cup should be the greatest thing in us soccer since sliced bread. Seriously. We love march madness, when Southern Mississippi Baptist Tech beats Duke (ok, everyone loves it when anyone beats Duke) but still. Upset city. We love that stuff.

  6. Back at you there pal, with your blatant ignorance. No I haven’t seen Cal FC, because there amateurs who are not paid for their ability, nor are the games televised in North Carolina. Cal FC, a no name team at the lowest level, should not have beaten a team with Designated Players who are paid hundredths of thousands of dollars. You missed the point of embarrassment to the MLS.

    Think a little before you post next time!

  7. Actually, b is right. This last MLS extra time podcast has an interview with Wynalda, so it’s unlikely that MLS is trying to keep him out of the spotlight.

  8. In the MLS team’s defense, i think them “buying” home field advantage is more for the amateur team’s benefit as they get a nice chunk for change from it that can help with a bunch of stuff (equipment, youth teams, field time).

  9. Congrats to Wynalda and his team on a very big victory. Portland paying to get the home field advantage and then losing the game is icing on the cake. I have nothing against Portland or RSL, but if you’re going to pay to get a home game, you had damn well better win the game so you don’t look stupid.


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