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U.S. Open Cup Third Round Preview: NASL joins the fray

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By COLE KELLOGG

The third round of the 2015 US Open Cup will take place Wednesday evening all around the country. The 15 matches are mostly populated by NASL and USL sides, but major underdogs still remain from non-league sides.

One team from NPSL, one from PDL, and two from USASA remain in the competition at this point.

Here are short previews for each of the 15 matchups:

Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) vs. Chattanooga FC (NPSL), 7:30

The Atlanta Silverbacks will face off against an NPSL team that has only lost three competitive matches since 2013.

Atlanta will travel to Tennessee to face Chattanooga FC after a tough 4-2 loss to FC Edmonton in league play on Sunday. Chattanooga have won all four of their matches this season, with one win being a 1-0 result against the Silverbacks’ reserve side.

With their win over the Wilmington Hammerheads last round, Chattanooga became the second ever NPSL side to knock a professional team out of the US Open Cup.

This team of college players will certainly have a tough task ahead of them as they face the Silverbacks, who will be looking for a victory after only recording two in NASL play this season.

Charlotte Independence (USL) vs. Carolina RailHawks (NASL), 7:30

The Carolina RailHawks will be looking to bounce back after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers over the weekend. Charlotte will have their hands full with RailHawks attackers Nacho Novo and Tiyi Shipalane, who have three goals apiece in the league this season.

The Independence have a record of 2-3-3 so far this season and currently sit 17th in USL. The RailHawks will be sure to have done their research on a surging Tomasz Zahorski, as the Independence striker scored a hat trick for his team to advance to the third round of the Open Cup.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) vs. Charleston Battery (USL), 7:30

The Strikers currently sit in ninth place in NAS, but are winless in three games, and will be using this opportunity to salvage what has been a poor Spring Season. The team has only scored seven times in the league this year.

Charleston boasts a record of 6-1-4 this season, and currently sits in second place in USL. Top contributors to the Battery’s success are Dane Kelly and Malkel Chang. Kelly has scored four and assisted once this year, while Chang has one goal and five assists.

Louisville City FC (USL) vs. Indy Eleven (NASL), 7:30

For their first year as a team, Louisville City FC is impressing as of late. LCFC sits in third in the USL Eastern Conference, and fifth overall in the league.

The men in purple have quite a few strong contributors this season. Leading the scoring chart is former Chivas USA and Chicago Fire forward Matt Fondy with three goals. Former Orlando City defender Bryan Burke and Juan Guzman each have tallied three assists so far this year.

Indy Eleven had a strong start to their season with two important draws and a win against the San Antonio Scorpions. The team has fallen off since, though, and is currently on a three-game losing streak.

The team has been unproductive in the attack, only recording five goals so far in 2015. Indy Eleven does have a weapon in Carlos Pena, though, who can strike a ball from anywhere on the pitch.

Jersey Express (PDL) vs. New York Cosmos (NASL), 7:30

Jersey Express won their first ever game in the US Open Cup in a 3-0 match against New York Greek American SC. They went on to defeat New York Red Bulls II on May 20 by a score of 1-0. In facing the New York Cosmos, though, they have a whole new level of foe.

The Cosmos, if you didn’t know, are running away with the NASL Spring Season title. Gio Savaere’s men are undefeated and have a goal differential of nine in 2015.

The Express boys will have their hands full in marking Raul, Leo Fernandes, and the rest of a talented team that are currently firing on all cylinders.

Rochester Rhinos (USL) vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL), 7:00

Rochester sits atop the USL standings after 10 games played this season. Christian Volesky and Houston Dynamo homegrown player Alex Dixon lead scoring for the Rhinos with 4 and 3 respectively.

Harrisburg is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 4-2-1 this year. Their top goal scorer is Ken Tribbett with three this season. They have faced easy competition so far this year, though, with three out of four wins coming against teams in the bottom four places in the Conference.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL) vs. Real Monarchs SLC (USL), 7:00

Colorado Springs is 4-4 on the season, sitting in eighth in the USL Western Conference. But when the Switchbacks win, they win big. The team has scored five goals in two separate matches so far this season, and three in another.

Two standouts for Colorado Springs are Miguel Gonzalez and Luke Vercollone. Gonzalez has two goals and three assists this season, while Vercollone leads both categories with five and four.

Real Monarchs SLC are second from bottom of the league, only having picked up six points from 10 matches. One standout player for the Monarchs is Max Rauhofer, who has started five matches and scored three goals.

Portland Timbers 2 (USL) vs. Seattle Sounders 2 (USL), 1:00 

This game is a preview to the headlining fourth round matchup between the parent clubs.

The performances of these teams so far this season have mirrored those of their MLS counterparts. Seattle leads the Western Conference with 19 points, while Portland sits in ninth with 11.

The Sounders boast three different players with three or more goals on the season. Pablo Rossi has three, Darwin Jones has four, and Andy Craven leads with five goals and four assists.

The Timbers have one standout contributor this season in 34th overall 2015 SuperDraft pick Kharlton Belmar. Belmar has scored five times for the team this season, with two of the goals being the game winner.

Jacksonville Armada (NASL) vs. Richmond Kickers (USL), 7:00

NASL newcomers Jacksonville Armada have done quite well for themselves this Spring. The team is in fourth place in the league.

Their key contributors as of late have been Alhassan Keita with three goals and Marcos Flores with two goals and two assists.

The Richmond Kickers are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference of USL, with a record of 4-2-4. The Kickers have three players with three or more goals. George Davis IV has three, Brian Ownby has three goals and four assists, and Matthew Delicate leads the scoring chart with five.

Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL), 7:00

Tampa Bay is third in NASL, but is only behind second place Minnesota United FC on goal differential. The Rowdies are unbeaten in four matches, with Martin Nunez leading the scoring with two goals. Georgi Hristov leads with three assists.

Pittsburgh has a record of 3-3-3 this season, and sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. There are two standouts in the Riverhounds’ attack this sseason. Rob Vincent has scored six goals and assisted four others, and Kevin Kerr has scored four and assisted five.

Minnesota United FC (NASL) vs. Saint Louis FC (USL), 7:00

Minnesota United are coming off a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Jacksonville Armada that brought them up to second place in NASL. United are surging now with three back-to-back wins. Top contributors this season have been Pablo Campos with three goals and an assist, and USMNT player Miguel Ibarra with two apiece.

Saint Louis FC is sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference of USL with 11 points this season. The team is winless in the last two matches. Their top contributor this year is former LA Galaxy forward Bryan Gaul with three goals and an assist.

Austin Aztex (USL) vs. San Antonio Scorpions (NASL), 7:30

Austin sits sixth in the Western  Conference of USL with 13 points in 2015. They have lost two matches in a row, and have a record of 4-4-1 on the season. Star contributor for the Aztex is former Chivas USA player Kris Tyrpak with five goals and an assist.

Last season’s NASL champions in San Antonio are having an underwhelming Spring Season. The Scorpions sit in the penultimate spot in the NASL table and are coming off of a tough 3-0 loss to the Cosmos. Former Colorado Rapids and Houston Dynamo striker Omar Cummings is leading the team with four goals.

Oklahoma City Energy (USL) vs. Tulsa Roughnecks (USL), 7:05

Oklahoma City is the seventh place team in the Western Conference. Their record is 3-2-3 this season, and they are undefeated in their last two. Stat leaders for the Energy are Danni Konig with five goals and Casey Townsend with four assists.

Tulsa has collected 11 points from nine USL matches and sit in tenth place in the Western Conference. The Roughnecks have won back-to-back matches, though. Gibson Bardsley leads the stat charts with three goals and an assist.

Chula Vista FC (USASA) vs. Sacramento Republic FC (USL), 7:30

Sacramento are the second place team in the Western Conference of USL. the Republic have collected 18 points from 11 matches. Former MLS player Rodrigo Lopez leads the team in goals and assists with seven and three respectively.

Chula Vista FC defeated Arizona United SC 3-0 to advance to the third round of the Cup. Midfielder Alberto Diaz scored a brace and Angel Pinal added the third to take down the USL side. Chula Vista will be hoping for another all-star performance from goalkeeper Sebastian Gonzalez to keep them in the match against a heavily favored Sacramento Republic side.

PSA Elite (USASA) vs. Ventura  County Fusion (PDL), 7:00

PSA gave their all in the second round to come out over the Orange County Blues 2-1. Michael Salazar scored one goal and assisted the other, leading his team to the third round of the US Open Cup. Salazar is a player for Ventura County to watch out for, having scored one goal and two assists in PSA’s first round match.

Ventura County scored late to knock the LA Galaxy II side out of the US Open Cup on May 20. The Fusion’s Matt LaGrassa scored seven minutes before the half, but the lead would not hold for long. Los Dos equalized in first half stoppage time with a penalty drawn and scored by Ariel Lassiter. A late aggresive run and hard strike from Abu Danladi put Ventura up 2-1 and ensured their advancement in the tournament.

 

What do you think of these matchups? Who do you see as favorites to advance?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

    • As someone who keeps an eye on both leagues I wouldn’t bet against more than 2 nasl upsets, Richmond and Charlotte are my picks. Then again I’m glad I don’t bet on the Cup too much! Always finds a way to surprise.

      Sacramento vs Chula Vista probably the most interesting match this round.

      Reply

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