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WNT Punches Ticket to Rio With 5-0 Win Against Trinidad & Tobago

HOUSTON, Texas (Feb. 19, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team earned a berth to its sixth consecutive Olympic Games with a 5-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago in the semifinal of the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Canada earned CONCACAF’s other spot with a 3-1 victory against Costa Rica in the other semifinal and will meet the United States in the tournament’s championship game on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. CT live on NBC Universo and NBC Live Extra, and on replay at 10 p.m. CT on NBCSN.

Alex Morgan’s third career hat trick led the way for the USA as she scored once in the first half and twice in the second while Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd also tallied. Lloyd increased her goals in Olympic Qualifying to 12 and is two goals away from tying Abby Wambach’s record of 14 goals career goals in this tournament.

Hope Solo earned her 94th shutout and recorded her 143rd win, further extending her U.S. records.

On the other end, T&T goalkeeper Kimika Forbes made more than a few excellent saves to keep the score down.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Tobin Heath (Mallory Pugh), 12th minute:
Mallory Pugh sprinted past a defender down the left flank and cut a pass on the ground back into the middle. Heath made a hard run into the box and beat her defender to the ball to send a powerful spinning left-footed strike into the right side of the net. The goal was Heath’s first since the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final against Japan, USA1, TRI 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Alex Morgan (Lindsey Horan), 30th minute: Kelley O’Hara sent a fantastic cross from the right side that Lindsey Horan got under near the far post and headed the ball back into the middle where Alex Morgan was waiting. Morgan used the inside of her left foot to tap it home for her 60th international goal. USA 2, TRI 0. (SEE GOAL)

USA – Carli Lloyd (Morgan Brian), 43rd minute: Morgan Brian took a USA corner kick from the right and Carli Lloyd met the cross in the middle of the box to send a powerful header that slipped through the arms and legs of kneeling T&T goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, who up until then had a fantastic game. USA 3, TRI 0 (SEE GOAL).

USA – Alex Morgan, 71st minute: Samantha Mewis headed the ball on goal but T&T defender Jennelle Cunningham was able to clear the ball off the goal line. Alex Morgan jumped on the clearance inside the six-yard box and again headed it on goal but Cunningham once again cleared it out, this time with her head. Morgan then pounced on the second rebound and this time to blasted home a left-footed shot for her second goal of the match. USA 4, TRI 0. (SEE GOAL)

USA – Alex Morgan (Morgan Brian), 72nd minute: Julie Johnston passed the ball to Morgan Brian who was just outside the penalty area. Brian the crossed it to the middle of the area where Alex Morgan volleyed it inside of the right post to complete her third career hat trick. USA 5, TRI 0 (SEE GOAL) FINAL.

Key Saves and Defensive Stops
TRI – Kimika Forbes, 3rd minute:
Meghan Klingenberg slipped a pass into the penalty area for Alex Morgan on the left side. Morgan fired hard and low, but Kimika Forbes did a great job to put her body in front of the ball and blocked the attempt with her legs to keep the game scoreless early on.

TRI – Kimika Forbes, 22nd minute: Carli Lloyd outran a pair of defenders into the box and blasted a powerful attempt to the middle of the net but Kimika Forbes was once again alert batted the ball away.

TRI – Kimika Forbes, 29th minute: Carli Lloyd fed Alex Morgan into the left side of the penalty area, but Forbes once again used her body well to block the shot with her legs.

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT will face Canada in the title game of the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. CT. The U.S. has qualified for its sixth consecutive Olympics and will attempt to win the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship for the fourth consecutive time. The championship final will match can be viewed live NBC Universo and NBC Live Extra, and on replay at 10 p.m. CT on NBCSN.

Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt@ussoccer_esp);FacebookInstagram; Snapchat (ussoccer_wnt)

Additional Notes:

  • The U.S. WNT extended its streak to nine consecutive games in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying without allowing a goal, dating back to the Final of the 2008 Qualifying tournament when the U.S. tied Canada 1-1 on April 12, 2008 and went on to win in penalty kicks 6-5.
  • The USA has never lost a match in Olympic Qualifying, but did tie Canada 1-1 in the title game of the 2008 tournament before prevailing in penalty kicks. It remains unbeaten in all-time CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying with a 17-0-1 record.
  • Tonight’s match was the second consecutive start for Kelley O’Hara and Mallory Pugh after both were in the starting XI against Puerto Rico on Feb. 15. It was also Pugh’s second career start.
    • Johnston and Horan played in their third Olympic qualifier. They both made their Olympic Qualifying debut against Costa Rica on Feb. 10. Samantha Mewis played in her second Olympic Qualifying match when she came in for Horan in the 60th minute.
    • With tonight’s start, five players in the lineup have now seen action in every game so far in the tournament: Lloyd, Morgan, Brian, Klingenberg and Pugh. Lloyd is the only one to have started every match so far in the tournament. Dunn and Press, who came in as subs in the second half in the 66th and 59th, have also played in all four matches.
    • Lloyd and Brian, who play for the NWSL’s Houston Dash, played in their home venue, BBVA Compass Stadium and combined for the USA’s third goal.
    • Lloyd is the only player at this year’s Olympic Qualifying tournament to have scored in all four games.
    • Morgan’s hat trick was her first since Nov. 28, 2012, against Ireland.
    • Seven players on the roster have scored a goal in an Olympic Qualifying match for the USA: Lloyd (12), Morgan (9), Dunn (6), Heath (4), Press (3), O’Hara (1) and Mewis (1).
    • Heath’s goal marked her 13th international score.
    • Dunn, Morgan and Lloyd lead the scoring in this year’s tournament with six, five and four goals, respectively.
    • Sauerbrunn made her 99th appearance for the WNT, and could hit the century mark if she plays on Sunday’s championship match.
    • Pugh is the youngest player ever named to a U.S. Olympic Qualifying roster. She also became the youngest female player in WNT history to play in an Olympic qualifier match at 17 years, 9 months and 12 days old when she came on for Dunn in the 68th minute against Costa Rica on Feb. 10. She recorded her first career assist against Puerto Rico on Feb. 15. She assisted on another goal in tonight’s match.

Milestone Watch:

  • Carli Lloyd leads the team with 13 all-time Olympic Qualifying appearances. With 12 Olympic Qualifying goals scored, Lloyd is two goals behind Abby Wambach’s U.S. record of 14 goals in Olympic Qualifying. Alex Morgan has nine tallies and Crystal Dunn has six.
  • Lloyd earned her 216th cap tonight while Hope Solo recorded her 189th, extending her own record for a U.S. goalkeeper.
  • Lloyd has now scored 86 international goals and remains in sixth place on the WNT’s all-time scoring list. Lloyd has scored 23 goals in the USA’s last 18 matches starting with the Round of 16 game vs. Colombia at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
  • With her tally in the 30th minute, Morgan tied Shannon MacMillan for eighth on the USA’s all-time scoring list. She then scored two more and with 62 goals now has sole possession of eighth place.
  • Solo played in her 11th Olympic Qualifying match, earning her 94th shutout tonight and 143rd wins.

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report – 

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: Feb. 19, 2016
Competition: 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying – Semifinals
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Attendance: 5,561
Weather: 69 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                            3          2          5
TRI                              0          0          0

USA – Tobin Heath (Mallory Pugh)                            12th minute
USA – Alex Morgan (Lindsay Horan)                         30
USA – Carli Lloyd (Morgan Brian)                              43
USA – Alex Morgan                                                    71
USA – Alex Morgan (Morgan Brian)                          73

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 5-Kelley O'Hara, 8-Julie Johnston, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 14-Morgan Brian, 9-Lindsey Horan (3-Samantha Mewis, 60), 17-Tobin Heath, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.) (16-Crystal Dunn, 66), 2-Mallory Pugh (12-Christen Press, 59); 13-Alex Morgan
Subs Not Used: 6-Emily Sonnett, 11-Ali Krieger, 15-Stephanie McCaffrey, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 19-Jaelene Hinkle, 20-Alyssa Naeher
Head coach: Jill Ellis

TRI: 1-Kimika Forbes; 2-Jenelle Cunningham, 4-Danielle Blair, 5-Arin King, 6-Khadidra Debesette, 8-Victoria Swift (11-Janine Francois, 68), 9-Maylee Attin-Johnson (capt.), 10-Tasha St. Louis (3-Mariah Shade, 72), 12-Ahkeela Mollon, 14-Karyn Forbes, 19-Kennya Cordner
Subs Not Used: 7-Kayla Taylor, 13-Naomie Guerra, 15-Lian Hinds, 16-Jo Marie Lewis, 17-Anastasia Prescott, 18-Shalette Alexander, 20-Saundra Baron
Head coach: Richard Hood

Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 27 / 1
Shots on Goal: 15 / 0
Saves:  0 / 9
Corner Kicks: 10 / 0
Fouls: 10 / 9
Offside: 7 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
TRI – Tasha St. Louis (caution)                27th minute

Officials:
Referee: Tatiana Guzman (NCA)
Assistant Referee 1: Mayling Chavarria (NCA)
Assistant Referee 2: Princess Brown (JAM)
4th Official: Quetzalli Alvarado (MEX)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan

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WNT Feb 19, 2016

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: Feb. 19, 2016
Competition: 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying – Semifinals
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Attendance: 5,561
Weather: 69 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             3          2          5
TRI                               0          0          0

USA – Tobin Heath (Mallory Pugh)                                  12th minute
USA – Alex Morgan (Lindsay Horan)                                30
USA – Carli Lloyd (Morgan Brian)                                    43
USA – Alex Morgan                                                       71
USA – Alex Morgan (Morgan Brian)                                 73

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 5-Kelley O'Hara, 8-Julie Johnston, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 14-Morgan Brian, 9-Lindsey Horan (3-Samantha Mewis, 60), 17-Tobin Heath, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.) (16-Crystal Dunn, 66), 2-Mallory Pugh (12-Christen Press, 59); 13-Alex Morgan
Subs Not Used: 6-Emily Sonnett, 11-Ali Krieger, 15-Stephanie McCaffrey, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 19-Jaelene Hinkle, 20-Alyssa Naeher
Head coach: Jill Ellis

TRI: 1-Kimika Forbes; 2-Jenelle Cunningham, 4-Danielle Blair, 5-Arin King, 6-Khadidra Debesette, 8-Victoria Swift (11-Janine Francois, 68), 9-Maylee Attin-Johnson (capt.), 10-Tasha St. Louis (3-Mariah Shade, 72), 12-Ahkeela Mollon, 14-Karyn Forbes, 19-Kennya Cordner
Subs Not Used: 7-Kayla Taylor, 13-Naomie Guerra, 15-Lian Hinds, 16-Jo Marie Lewis, 17-Anastasia Prescott, 18-Shalette Alexander, 20-Saundra Baron
Head coach: Richard Hood

Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 27 / 1
Shots on Goal: 15 / 0
Saves:  0 / 9
Corner Kicks: 10 / 0
Fouls: 10 / 9
Offside: 7 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
TRI – Tasha St. Louis (caution)                     27th minute

Officials:
Referee: Tatiana Guzman (NCA)
Assistant Referee 1: Mayling Chavarria (NCA)
Assistant Referee 2: Princess Brown (JAM)
4th Official: Quetzalli Alvarado (MEX)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan

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US Soccer

FC Golden State Force Pulls Cupset as Three Amateur Clubs Advance from 2018 U.S. Open Cup Third Round

CHICAGO (May 23, 2018) – The Third Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup offered up one last minute Cupset as PDL club FC Golden State Force knocked off professionals Las Vegas Lights of USL to advance alongside two other amateur teams, Miami United FC (NPSL) and NTX Rayados (Texas), to the Fourth Round of the competition, scheduled for Wednesday, June 6.

Additionally, nine professional USL clubs took care of business to also earn berths in the next round where Division I opposition from MLS awaits. All twelve Third Round winners will be paired with MLS opponents in the Fourth Round Draw, which will be broadcast on ussoccer.com and Facebook Live from Soccer House in Chicago at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, May 24.

The Third Round began on Tuesday night when North Carolina FC (USL) ensured they would not be among upset professional sides by pounding their PDL opponents Ocean City Nor’easters 4-1. Wednesday’s remaining 11 matches were much closer affairs with only FC Cincinnati (USL), Nashville SC (USL) and Miami United (NPSL) achieving more than a one-goal margin of victory. In the round's only match to reach PKs, San Antonio FC dispatched fellow USL club Colorado Springs Switchbacks 5-3 after a 1-1 draw in regulation.

As the remaining amateur teams in the competition, FC Golden State, Miami United FC and NTX Rayados are all still in the running to claim the $25,000 prize awarded to the amateur team to advance the farthest in the tournament.  

THIRD ROUND RECAPS:

Tuesday, May 22
North Carolina FC (USL) 4, Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL) 1
North Carolina FC were no mood for an upset in their 2018 U.S. Open Cup Third Round contest at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., scoring a comprehensive 4-1 win, that saw off a spirited challenge from amateur hopefuls, Ocean City Nor’easters. In the eighth minute, 30-year-old veteran Austin Da Luz controlled brilliantly on the left side and sent an inch-perfect cross through the penalty area to Marios Lomis, who poked home with the studs of his left boot. The visitors drew level ten minutes later after Matteo Bernatti sent the ball arcing up into the air over the penalty area, and Uros Ilic struck a volley from 12 yards that bobbled past NCFC goalkeeper Austin Guerrero after taking a deflection. But after 26 minutes, Da Luz grabbed the home side’s second goal when he rose in the area to head home a cross from Berhard Luxbacher. Still down late in the second half, the young visitors pushed forward in search of a goal, which left them exposed at the back, and the home side got insurance goals from Dre Fortune and Donovan Ewolo to book passage to the Fourth Round.

Wednesday, May 23
Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL) 1, FC Cincinnati (USL) 3

FC Cincinnati broke open a close game with two goals in as many minutes midway through the second half in a U.S. Open Cup Third Round matchup between USL sides. Jamaican international Lance Laing gave the visitors some breathing room and a 2-0 advantage in the 61st minute before Daniel Haber added one in the 63rd. Jimmy McLaughlin, off an Emery Welshman assist, had given Cincinnati a 1-0 edge in the 39th minute. Jamaican and second-half sub Dennis Chin pulled one back for Pittsburgh in the 88th minute, but it will be the men from south Ohio, who move on to a Fourth Round date on June 6.

Richmond Kickers (USL) 3, Penn FC (USL) 2
Heviel Cordoves volleyed home a left-wing cross from point-blank range in the 82nd minute to lift the Kickers, who had squandered a two-goal lead to a 3-2 win vs. Penn FC in the Third Round of the 2018 U.S. Open Cup. The first hour was a battle of the braces. After only 22 minutes, Richmond grabbed a 2-0 advantage on Luiz Fernando's two goals. Conor Shanosky assisted the first score in the 13th minute, and Yudai Imura did likewise nine minutes later. The hosts, however, could not hold onto the lead as Penn FC equalized on either side of halftime. Jorge Rivera sliced the lead in half in the 36th minute before knotting things up on the hour for Penn FC, but Cordoves’ late heroics sent Richmond into the Fourth Round on June 6.

Jacksonville Armada FC (NPSL) 0, Miami United FC (NPSL) 2
The Miami United FC stunned their NPSL compatriots, Jacksonville Armada, with a pair of goals within a five-minute span in the opening half to win the teams’ U.S. Open Cup Third Round matchup at Southern Oak Stadium in Jacksonville. Tomas Granitto lifted Miami into the lead in the 21st minute, powering a brilliant 25-yard effort into the upper right corner. Shortly thereafter, the visitors doubled their lead as Nicolas Gorbosov converted a corner kick. Shamar Shelton, who replaced Granitto in the 79th minute, saved a goal by heading a Jacksonville shot off the crossbar in the 89th, and goalkeeper Occenat Peterson recorded the clean sheet after eight minutes of stoppage time to help send Miami through to the Fourth Round.

Charleston Battery (USL) 1, Elm City Express (NPSL) 0
Eleven minutes after he replaced Patrick Okonkwo, Ataulla Guerra set up Gordon Wild for the game-winner in the 83rd minute as Charleston Battery escaped with a 1-0 win vs. Elm City Express at MUSC Health Stadium. Wild penetrated deep into the penalty area, barely beat a defender and then goalkeeper Matthew Jones at the near post for the lone goal of the contest. Charleston ‘keeper and Cuban international Odisnel Cooper registered the shutout as the Battery now head into a Fourth Round showdown against an MLS side on June 6.

Louisville City FC (USL) 1, Saint Louis FC (USL) 0
Louisville City’s Sean Totsch crushed a 25-yard drive into the upper left corner and out of the reach of Saint Louis goalkeeper Tomas Gomez for the lone goal of the match in a 1-0 Louisville win at Lynn Stadium in Kentucky. Goalkeeper Tim Dobrowolski secured the shutout for the victors who will hope to do the same against MLS opposition in the Fourth Round on June 6.

Nashville SC (USL) 3, Mississippi Brilla FC (PDL) 1
Brandon Allen and London Woodberry scored first-half goals as Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup first-timers Nashville SC of the United Soccer League topped Mississippi Brilla FC at Vanderbilt Soccer Complex in Nashville. Allen scored easily in the 20th minute and had a chance to add a second on a penalty kick four minutes later, but Brilla FC goalkeeper Jordan Bell made a one-handed diving stop to keep the game close until Woodberry slotted a bouncing free kick into the back of the net less than 10 minutes later. Napo Matsoso’s headed goal in the 59th minute gave Mississippi Brilla FC life, but Robin Schroot added an insurance goal in stoppage time to send Nashville SC on to the Fourth Round.

NTX Rayados (Tex.) 3, FC Wichita (NPSL) 2
Christian Okeke scored his third game-winning goal of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as amateurs NTX Rayados of the North Texas Premier Soccer League nipped FC Wichita at Richland Community College in Dallas. Adrian Ramos and Christopher Escalera gave Rayados a 2-0 lead in the first half, but Wichita stormed back with two second-half goals, first from Nelson Landaverde in the 60th minute and then Andres Ochoa on a corner kick from Matt Claire for the equalizer in the 65th. FC Wichita forward Franck Tayou had a slew of late opportunities but Okeke, who came on as a substitute, slotted the finisher in the 86th minute to advance NTX Rayados to a Fourth Round game for the first time in club history.

San Antonio FC (USL) 1, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USL) 1 (5-3 PKs)
Sixteen-year-old U.S. Youth National Team midfielder Ethan Bryant made his Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup debut and drew a penalty kick as San Antonio FC of the United Soccer League played Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to a draw before winning in a shootout at San Antonio’s Toyota Field. Rafa Castillo scored from the spot to give San Antonio FC the lead in the eighth minute, but Tobenna Uzo pulled Switchbacks FC even with a headed goal off a corner kick from Joshua Suggs in the 26th. Neither team could find a breakthrough until the shootout when Switchbacks FC failed on their fourth attempt and the home team converted on all five spot kick tries to advance to the Fourth Round.

Sporting AZ FC (Ariz.) 1, Fresno FC 2 a.e.t.
Renato Bustamante scored on a header in the first period of overtime as Fresno FC of the United Soccer League had to come from behind to defeat amateur side Sporting AZ FC at Mesa, Arizona’s Jon Riggs Stadium. Ryan Flood gave Sporting AZ FC a 1-0 lead in the 66th minute with a rocket from distance, but Fresno FC’s Danny Barrera returned the favor less than 10 minutes later to tie the game. Sporting AZ goalkeeper Andrew Weber, who came up with several game-saving stops in the Second Round, stood on his head again and finished with 12 saves, but Bustamante’s goal in the 99th minute sealed the win for Fresno FC, a USL expansion club advancing to the Fourth Round for the first time.

FC Golden State Force (PDL) 2, Las Vegas Lights FC (USL) 1
Allison Faramilio scored his third and fourth goals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup as FC Golden State Force of the Premier Development League kept its tournament run going with a late victory over Las Vegas Lights FC at Downey, California’s Allen Layne Stadium. Faramilio sent a drive past Lights FC goalkeeper Ricardo Ferrino for a 1-0 lead in the 75th minute, but Las Vegas captain Joel Huiqui equalized with a flying header in the 81st. The match looked headed to overtime before FC Golden State Force earned a penalty on the stroke of 90 minutes. Faramilio fired the spot kick into the top left corner for the game-winner, sending FC Golden State Force on to the Fourth Round and a clash with an MLS opponent.

Sacramento Republic FC (USL) 1, Reno 1868 FC (USL) 0
Canadian Men’s National Team member Keven Aleman scored his second goal in as many 2018 U.S. Open Cup matches to spur Sacramento Republic FC of the United Soccer League on to a road defeat of league rivals Reno 1868 FC at Greater Nevada Field. Recently-signed Reno 1868 FC goalkeeper Kyle Ihn made a number of tough saves to keep his team alive, but Aleman sent a left-footed free kick screaming into the top right corner to tally the game’s lone goal in the 69th minute for Republic FC, which survived eight minutes of added time to advance to the tournament’s Fourth Round for the fourth time in five years.

Third Round Results

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Result

Venue

May 22

North Carolina FC (USL) vs. Ocean City Nor'easters (PDL)

4-1

Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.

May 23

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USL) vs. FC Cincinnati (USL)

1-3

Highmark Stadium; Pittsburgh, Pa.

May 23

Richmond Kickers (USL) vs. Penn FC (USL)

3-2

City Stadium; Richmond, Va.

May 23

Jacksonville Armada FC (NPSL) vs. Miami United FC (NPSL)

0-2

Southern Oak Stadium (Jacksonville University), Jacksonville, Fla.

May 23

Charleston Battery (USL) vs. Elm City Express (NPSL)

1-0

MUSC Health Stadium; Charleston, S.C.

May 23

Louisville City FC (USL) vs. Saint Louis FC (USL)

1-0

Lynn Stadium (Univ. of Louisville); Louisville, Ky.

May 23

Nashville SC (USL) vs. Mississippi Brilla FC (PDL)

3-1

Vanderbilt Soccer/Lacrosse Complex; Nashville, Tenn.

May 23

NTX Rayados (Texas) vs. FC Wichita (NPSL)

3-2

Richland Community College (Field 10); Dallas, Texas

May 23

San Antonio FC (USL) vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USL)

1-1 (5-3 PKs)

Toyota Field; San Antonio, Texas

May 23

Sporting AZ FC (Ariz.) vs. Fresno FC (USL)

1-2 a.e.t.

John Riggs Stadium; Mesa, Ariz.

May 23

FC Golden State Force (PDL) vs. Las Vegas Lights FC (USL)

2-1

Allen Layne Stadium (Downey High School); Downey, Calif.

May 23

Reno 1868 FC (USL) vs. Sacramento Republic FC (USL)

0-1

Greater Nevada Field; Reno, Nev.


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U.S. Open Cup May 23, 2018
US Soccer

Leo Sosaโ€™s Long Road Homeโ€ฆto Kansas

It was grass and farmland as far as Leo Sosa’s eyes could see. The flat landscape and country roads stretched out in every direction. He was in a new country, a long way from home, on his way to a new school and a new life in the middle of nowhere. “I looked out the window,” said Sosa with a warm smile, “and asked myself, ‘what am I doing here?’”

He was heading to Concordia, Kansas – population 4,200 – and about a million miles from where he started. “If you’ve been to São Paulo then you know: it’s like New York City – so picture that, but with many, many more people!” the FC Wichita midfielder told ussoccer.com, his English smooth and still accented with his native Portuguese. He considers life’s twists and turns and how they can catch you off guard and drop you right where you’re meant to be. “I came from a place where I’m taking trains, subways – everything’s packed all the time and there’s a crunch of people everywhere and traffic and noise….and then here I am, all of a sudden, in Kansas.”


(Since 2015, FC Wichita has gone from strength to strength in the NPSL)

Sosa never heard the word Kansas before. He didn’t know anything about it – where it was, what it meant. “I looked out the window and I thought, ‘what am I going to do? How will I make myself busy here?’” he laughed, on the eve of his team’s 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Third Round game against NTX Rayados in Dallas.  

Sosa & Kansas: A Love Affair
But Sosa fell in love with Kansas. “I guess I just realized I didn’t want all that other stuff anymore. The craziness,” said Sosa, the son of former Uruguay international and professional player Charles Sosa. The 25-year-old was reared in the academies of some of Brazil’s top clubs. Juventus first and then Corinthians, where he spent his formative years between 8 and 16 playing with and against the likes of future global superstars Neymar Jr. and Marquinhos. He learned his trade as a deep-lying midfielder with vision and smarts. He was called into camp for Brazil’s youth national teams and he had a future spreading out in front of him with a ball at his feet.

“At my first school in Kansas, at Cloud Community College (in Concordia), they took me in and they treated me like family,” said Sosa, who remembers his father’s lessons – the way he always stressed the importance of education. Charles reminded his talented son that soccer careers end early and you need to have a plan. “I was thousands of miles from everyone I loved, from my family and all of my friends, but they took care of me there in this little town in the middle of a new country. The people were so humble and they taught me the language. They treated me like their own family and I never forgot that.”


(Leo Sosa is among the top midfielders playing the NPSL - Photo courtesy of KWCH 12)

Sosa wasn’t the lone foreigner at Cloud – not by a long shot. The team, in his first year, was comprised of players from all over – Brazil, France, Spain and a handful of kids from Kansas too. “Can you believe that?” asked Sosa, who's developed a deep affinity for country music that his friends back in Brazil find puzzling. “All of us there in the middle of Kansas. We all learned so much every day. We learned so much from each other.” 

One thing Sosa didn’t need to learn was his way around the field. He brought with him from Brazil a technical ability and tactical awareness that was above and beyond that of his teammates and opponents. He stood out in the Western Division of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. He won everything on offer before transferring to Friends University in Wichita, where he still has one semester in his business administration degree before graduating in December. In 2015, he was called in for preseason with United Soccer League (USL) pro team St Louis FC, but his international status complicated matters and he was passed over. Reading United and Ocean City Nor’easters, Premier Development League (PDL) sides always on the hunt for top talent, came calling too – but Sosa couldn’t afford a plane ticket to Pennsylvania or the Jersey Shore.

“That was the year FC Wichita started up and so I decided I’d stay the summer in Kansas and play with them,” said Sosa, who likes to talk about being in the right place at the right time – on the field, in the Open Cup and in his new home in the geographical middle of a vast country. And just like he was in his first steps in Concordia, Sosa was folded up into the community at his new club, competing and making big waves in the amateur National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). “The people just made me feel at home right away – they treated me so well. The love was just crazy. I got offers to go to different teams, but I just didn’t want to leave Wichita. I’ve been here ever since.”

FC Wichita, a Club on the Up
With players like Sosa and the Tayou Brothers (Frank and Uzi) and all-time top-scorer Matt Clare, FC Wichita has grown into an NPSL power. They won their region two out of the club’s three years in action and they’re now just one game away from meeting a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in the Fourth Round of the 2018 U.S. Open Cup. The win in the last round, a 4-3 scorcher over USL pros Tulsa Roughnecks, was considered a shock result to those outside the club. But Sosa and Co. don’t think so. “We expected to win, so for us it was no upset,” said Sosa, who was in the side that was unlucky to lose out to Saint Louis FC 3-4 at this same stage in the 2017 Open Cup. “We let something slip away last year. We’re ready to do it this year for real – we know we have the quality to win.”


(FC Wichita are now one win away from playing an MLS team in the 2018 Open Cup)

The next round is a tricky test against NTX Rayados, wild card amateurs from Dallas, Texas who also beat pro opponents in the Second Round. Both teams know the winner gets a dream date with a top-tier pro team and, as a result, Sosa expects fireworks, “It will be a battle,” said the midfielder, a sudden steel in his voice. “Two amateur teams fighting to play a first division [MLS] team. It’s all or nothing and a chance to put yourself out there to show how good you are. There should be lots of contact – lots of physicality. We’re not gonna’ give up and neither will they. Everything’s on the line.”

Regardless of what happens, Sosa’s found a home. And that’s no small thing. If, as he expects, FC Wichita put down stakes as a pro club in the next few years, he’ll remain there and play the game he loves. If he has to travel to realize his dreams on farther fields, he won’t turn his back on the state of Kansas and the city of Wichita, where he’s been welcomed so warmly. “It’s a peaceful way to live life here,” he said, thinking about the long road from there to here and then to now. “Wichita is a pretty big city, but in 15 minutes you’re out there on those country roads again. You’re watching the sunset. They say there’s no place like home and you know it when you find it.”

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U.S. Open Cup May 23, 2018
US Soccer

MNT Players Finish Strong in Club Campaigns

For 20 of the 22 players called to Philadelphia with the Men’s National Team, the club season came to an end last weekend. Several played an instrumental role in strong finishes for their professional homes, while others started to see the light of first-team football. As they aim to carry that club momentum into play for their country, take a look at how the current MNT crop fared down the stretch abroad.

WESTON McKENNIE, SCHALKE 

An injury limited Weston McKennie at times this past spring and kept him from full participation at the MNT’s March camp, but he rallied to play an important role as Schalke clinched second place in the Bundesliga. The runner-up finish, the Miners’ best since 2009-10, secured an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League. The 19-year-old midfielder played in all but one of Schalke’s league games after the March international break and went the full 90 in three of its last four matches.

“It was a wonderful feeling at such a young age to be able to say that I’m going to play Champions League next year,” McKennie said. “To have the season that we did have, it was very emotional and very lively. To be a part of a group like that, with a lot of people not believing that we probably would finish second in the league, it was an amazing feeling.”

CHRISTIAN PULISIC, BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Borussia Dortmund has endured an up-and-down season, but the club’s fourth-place Bundesliga finish narrowly clinched Champions League qualification for the third-straight season. Just 19 years old, Pulisic started all seven of BVB’s games since March. Though Dortmund finished the season in a three-way tie for third on points with Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen, they ended up in fourth based on goal differential. 

MATT MIAZGA, VITESSE

In two seasons on loan in the Dutch Eredivisie, Matt Miazga has helped lead Vitesse to unprecedented success. Last year, the 6-4 center back figured prominently in the club’s run to the KNVB Cup title, the first trophy in its 125-year history. This year, Miazga made almost every appearance he could for Vitesse, scored four goals and led the club to the Europa League playoffs with a sixth-place league finish. 

๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ–ค #vitesse #playoffs

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Vitesse entered the four-team European play-offs with a chance to clinch international competition for the second straight season. The club handled ADO Den Haag by a 7-2 aggregate score in the semifinals before a series against fifth-place Utrecht with a Europa League qualifying spot on the line. Vitesse came away with a 5-3 aggregate triumph, and the 22-year-old defender provided the exclamation point in the final’s second leg with a 38th-minute header.

“We were fighting for something important. For me, it was great getting the game-winning goal,” Miazga said. “It was a good end to the season. We qualified for the Europa League; that’s important for the club. It was an important chapter for me at Vitesse where I was an important player for the club.”

JORGE VILLAFAÑA, SANTOS LAGUNA 

As his MNT teammates arrived in Philadelphia on Sunday, Jorge Villafaña picked up some hardware. A 1-1 draw with Toluca gave Villafaña’s Santos Laguna a 3-1 aggregate victory in the Liga MX final. With the championship, he becomes just the third American ever to take home both the M.L.S. and Liga MX titles, alongside Herculez Gomez and Omar Gonzalez. 

Los Guerreros qualified for the Liguilla with a fourth-place regular season finish. After a strong showing in the MNT’s 1-0 March victory against Paraguay, Villafaña played a key role for Santos down the stretch. He appeared in all three rounds of the club’s Liguilla triumph.

ANDRIJA NOVAKOVICH, TELSTAR

On loan with Telstar from English Championship side Reading, Andrija Novakovich lit up the Dutch second division with 19 goals, good for second in the Eerste Divisie. The 21-year-old’s scoring efforts led the White Lions to their best finish since 1994 and clinched a spot in the second round of the promotion playoffs.

A Novakovich goal helped Telstar take down De Graafschap 3-2 in the first leg of its playoff. Behind on aggregate in the second leg on the road, the MNT forward equalized the series with a critical goal in the 75th minute, but De Graafschap answered in the 80th to edge Telstar 6-5 and win the series. 

ETHAN HORVATH, CLUB BRUGGE 

After a spell outside the starting lineup, MNT goalkeeper Ethan Horvath went back into action for Club Brugge at a crucial juncture. The Blauw-Zwart finished the Belgian First Division A regular season as the top seed for the six-team championship playoff, and Horvath was drafted back into the starting XI at a crucial stage. The 21-year-old backstopped Brugge to a 3-1 win against Sporting Charleroi on May 10 before another admirable performance in a 1-1 draw at Standard Liege three days later, to clinch the Belgian league title. 

ANTONEE ROBINSON, BOLTON WANDERERS

Bolton stood in danger of relegation on the final matchday in the English League Championship. The club needed a victory against Nottingham Forest coupled with help from other results to secure another season in the second division.

The 20-year-old Robinson played the full 90 minutes in a thrilling 3-2 victory. Down 2-1, Bolton scored in the 86th minute to equalize and took the lead in the 88th. Favorable results elsewhere ensured another season in the Championship after the club won promotion from League One in 2016-17. 

What a season. WE’RE STAYING UP ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†

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JULIAN GREEN, GREUTHER FÜRTH

Greuther Fürth entered the final matchday of the 2.Bundesliga season with a clear task at hand: escape relegation. Fürth hadn’t fallen below the second division since 1997, and on the road against Heidenheim the club needed a result. In his first full season as a professional starter, MNT midfielder Julian Green ensured that it wouldn’t happen this year. He found the back of the net in the 54th minute with a well-placed rocket of a shot from beyond the top of the box. 

“It was a tough season for the whole group there, but at the end we made it. I’m happy to score that goal,” Green said. “I could feel that my personal game was getting better and better from game to game, so it was an important season for me. I always want to win, and I give my best for the team. Nobody wants to have a relegation stand behind his name. That’s normal. At the end, I’m glad that it didn’t happen.”

In the final table, Fürth finished one spot above a trip to the promotion/relegation playoff. Tied with Erzgebirge at 40 points, it came down to goal differential. The 21-year-old’s goal secured the side its 22nd straight season in one of Germany’s top two divisions.

ERIC LICHAJ, NOTTINGHAM FOREST

First, Eric Lichaj’s screamer of a goal eliminated Arsenal from the FA Cup. Then, his brace in the match convinced his wife to let the Lichaj family get a dog. Now, the BBC has named the goal as the best of the entire FA Cup, based on fan votes. 

BILL HAMID, FC MIDTJYLLAND 

After a fall move from M.L.S. to the Danish Superliga, Hamid made three April appearances as the Wolves took home the league title for the first time since 2014-15. 

KEATON PARKS, BENFICA

While Keaton Parks spent most of the season with Benfica’s B team, the 20-year-old made a cameo appearance in the Aguias’ final game for the first team. The club battled to the finish for second place in the Primeira Liga, Portugal’s final Champions League qualification spot.

TIM WEAH, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 

Paris Saint-Germain clinched its fifth Ligue 1 title in six years last month with a 7-1 victory against Monaco and completed “the double” with the Coupe de France championship following a 2-0 win over Les Herbiers earlier this month. The 18-year-old Weah made three appearances for Les Parisens this season, and earned his first start last week against Caen.

Mes 4 meufsโค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‚......๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ”ด

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MNT May 23, 2018
US Soccer

NCFC Through to 4th Round as Norโ€™easters Lose Steam

North Carolina FC of the all-pro United Soccer League (USL) were in no mood for generous romanticism in their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Third Round contest at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. A productive day from Austin Da Luz and Marios Lomis, who each bagged a goal and an assist for the home side in a comprehensive 4-1 win, was enough to see off a spirited challenge from Premier Development (PDL) hopefuls Ocean City Nor’easters, who’ve earned a reputation as giant-killers with six wins over professional teams in recent Open Cup tournaments.

It was no surprise when the hosts took control of possession early in the contest. Ocean City’s young amateurs were happy enough to sit back and make sure they got their defensive shape right, aiming to hit out on the counter-attack only when the opportunity arose. But despite doing all the right things in the early going, the Nor’easters fell behind in the eighth minute when 30-year-old veteran Da Luz controlled brilliantly on the left side and sent an inch-perfect cross through the penalty area. The ball was met in a blare by Marios Lomis, who poked home past Alec Smir from close range with the studs of his left boot. 


(Lomis hit home NCFC's first goal before the ten-minute mark - photo Daniel Neal)

The setback didn’t faze the spirited visitors, always among the top teams in the PDL summer league. They drew level ten minutes later after NCFC failed to take full advantage of the momentum gained by their opening goal. Matteo Bernatti applied heavy pressure on the home side’s defense and sent the ball arcing up into the air over the penalty area. Uros Ilic struck toward goal on the volley from 12 yards and the ball bobbled past NCFC goalkeeper Austin Guerrero after taking a deflection off his defender Michael Harrington, who tried to hack the effort away from danger.

With a new lease on life, and balanced at 1-1, Ocean City began to grow into the game. Fredinho was a constant threat moving up through the middle of the field and he put NCFC’s defenders on the back foot on more than one occasion. But after 26 minutes, Da Luz – who had stints in Major League Soccer (MLS) with DC United and 2017 Open Cup runners-up New York Red Bulls – was at the heart of the home side’s second goal when he rose in the area to head home a cross from the right side from Berhard Luxbacher. After regaining the lead at 2-1, North Carolina FC were able to hold on to the break


(Da Luz was the outstanding performer in NCFC's win over OC Nor'easters - photo Daniel Neal)

North Carolina FC came out in control of possession in the second half, with the visitors still unwilling to push many bodies up into attack. Fredinho had the Nor’easters best chance to equalize on the hour mark when he curled a sizzling free-kick from 25 yards just wide of Guerrero’s top corner. After that, with time running out and caution aimed at the wind, the young visitors pushed forward into attack in search of a goal. It left them exposed at the back, though, and Luxbacher only missed out on making it 3-1 for NCFC by taking too much time to control a lofted ball in from Da Luz. But one minute later, the home side did get the insurance goal they needed. And what a goal it was. A low ball in from the left from Da Luz picked out Lomis, who made a first-time flicked pass to the streaking Dre Fortune. He raced into the box and slammed the ball home to make 3-1.

The Nor’easters spent the remaining minutes trying to claw their way back into the game. But they were caught out again by their professional counterparts who knew exactly how and when to exploit the spaces left open by their opponents’ forays forward. The goal from Donovan Ewolo that made it 4-1 had a whiff of good fortune about it. The substitute’s speculative shot from distance took a wicked deflection and bobbled past the despairing Smir. And that’s where the scoring ended, as North Carolina FC - deserved victors on the night - move through to the Fourth Round and Ocean City’s Nor’easters head for home with their heads held high after giving good account of themselves in yet another Open Cup.

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U.S. Open Cup May 22, 2018
US Soccer

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Marks Grand Opening of National Development Center

Home to U.S. Soccer Coaching Education and Sporting Kansas City’s first team, the National Development Center celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 16, 2018. The $75 million, 50.49-acre facility, which began hosting U.S. Soccer Coaching Education courses in February, is also home to Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine Center. Sporting the latest soccer-specific technology and sports medicine innovations, the NDC represents the future of the sport in the United States and aligns with U.S. Soccer’s primary objective of improving the sport at all levels.

Following the earlier announcement that Children’s Mercy Park would play host to the opening two games of the 2018 Tournament of Nations, including the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team clash against Japan, the buildup to the ribbon cutting drew in local, state and national soccer dignitaries. Presenting speaker and special guest Jill Ellis was joined by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Sporting Kansas City President and CEO Jake Reid, Chief of Sports Medicine at Children’s Mercy Dr. Kevin Latz, Governor of Kansas Jeff Colyer and Wyandotte County Major David Alvey. The U.S. WNT head coach, who recently completed the highest level coaching license available in North America by completing the U.S. Soccer Pro License in December, described the NDC as a milestone for the advancement of coaches in the United States.

“What this (NDC) is, is a testament to our commitment in this country to grow the game,” Ellis said. “From a coach’s perspective, we have succeeded. Because what this facility says to me is that it is about being the best. This sets the bar. By investing in the players, coaches and referees that will come through these doors, the National Development Center gives U.S. Soccer a valuable asset in the pursuit of championships. The technology, teaching facilities and overall resources this development center houses will certainly impact the coach’s learning and experience.”

Over the last several years, U.S. Soccer has continued to increase its investment in coaching education. The Coaching Education department has continued to revolutionize the federation’s online education tool, the Digital Coaching Center, and re-defined the coaching education pathway with the introduction of the U.S. Soccer Pro License in December 2015 and most recently, in January, the launch of eight new Grassroots Coaching Licenses. As the department continues to raise the level of coaching throughout the country, the NDC represents another initiative to achieve the department’s objectives.

“This National Development Center is world class,” Tschan said. “This is amongst the very best that we’ve seen on the globe when it comes to a facility that’s dedicated solely to the development of coaches who are ultimately responsible for developing players and we look at where we’re trying to head as the Federation. In order to do that, we need world class facilities, and this checks all the boxes.

“The thing you feel as soon as you come in here, is a learning environment. Coaching is teaching and to understand coaching and teaching, you have to understand learning. We want to bring our coaches into the most optimal learning environments possible. And if you look at this globally, we recognize that we are very unique. We don’t know of any other countries that currently have a dedicated learning center for coaches the way that we have. So, if you compare it globally, I think we are going to end up being best practice, and I think we won’t be looking outside, but rather folks will be looking inside to find out what is it that U.S. Soccer is doing in the coaching education space.”

By improving its coaches, U.S. Soccer is investing in the long-term development of soccer and its players in the U.S. Over 1,000 coaching course candidates are expected to engage in programming at the NDC in 2018. With increased programming for all levels forecast for years to come, U.S. Soccer has positioned its coaches to be able to learn in a soccer-specific learning environment that is truly special.

Ellis summarized the potential impact stating that, “If each one of the coaching candidates can take the experiences and the resources and tap into what is here, imagine the effect we can have on impacting our game.”

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May 22, 2018
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