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WATCH: Miami United midfielder unleashes Open Cup laser

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Tomas Granitto, have yourself an extra plate at the postgame buffet.

The Miami United midfielder scored a gorgeous goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over fellow NPSL side Jacksonville Armada in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

Complete with aesthetically-pleasing post-ping, the former El Salvador U-20 player laid into a 25-yard shot to open the scoring in Florida.

Granitto, 24, has played for Timbers 2, Swope Park Rangers, FC Edmonton, since leaving NCAA side Florida Gulf Coast.

PST survey results: Lower leagues, and that darned pyramid

Photo credit: Detroit City FC / Twitter: @DetroitCityFC
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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. Today’s BASS questions deal with lower leagues and pro/rel.

[ MORE: All Big American Soccer Survey posts ]

Before we get to the results of three intriguing questions regarding domestic soccer, let’s talk a bit about the mercurial nature of our blossoming-if-haphazard soccer country.

Do you want a team, or do you want a culture?

Those ideas aren’t mutually exclusive, but too often the expectation that starting one will ignite another turns out to be foolhardy.

We’re in the Wild West of American soccer right now, make no mistake about it, and the frontier is far from settled.

That’s unavoidable in a country so big, with travel costs so high, where the most established league is a whopping two decades old and support is far from traditional.

[ MORE: Premier League Weds. preview ]

American soccer tends to lean on its success stories, and understandably so. Portland, Seattle, and Kansas City are among myriad wonderful tales for a nascent culture.

But support is so much more than one set of fans, or players, or an owner. Look no further than Rochester, where an annual playoff team in a soccer specific stadium has suffered under the weight of unsatisfied MLS expectations.

Or San Francisco, a one-and-done champion of the NASL.

Or Austin, which failed to support a USL team but is emboldened at the idea of getting another city’s MLS team.

Or Dayton. Or Wilmington. San Antonio Scorpions. Atlanta Silverbacks.

(We’re going to conveniently leave out the teams dropped into a city by a league in order to battle for a market because this is America and we just need Borussia Butte competing for market share with Montana Monterrey United).

Each of these “failures” has a story, and we’re not naive enough to pretend each falls on one reason. Some American cities, accustomed to having the best example of any particular spot in their region via the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL, simply won’t support a league which wouldn’t rate in the Top 20 — or way worse — on a global scale.

We like to blame leagues more than anyone which is insanely easy given the closed structure of every league and the highly-magnified nature of Major League Soccer as a torch holder. Sometimes it’s deserved (the handling of Columbus, the handling of Columbus, as well as the handling of Columbus). Other times, probably not.

[ MORE: All #SaveTheCrew news ]

It would take a much longer post than this to figure it all out, and much brighter minds than mine. In fact, one of our biggest flaws as a soccer community is pretending to unveil a universal fix inside of one big lightbulb.

If we had to proffer some easy fixes, they would be this

chattanoogafc.com

— Support your local club. I don’t simply mean by buying tickets, though that certainly helps, but by allying with the cause of improving support in your area. It might seem odd to be a group of four friends starting a supporters’ group for your third- or fourth-tier club, but the team will love it and your enthusiasm just might make someone else come back for seconds. Believe us, we’ve heard the arguments about quality of play, etc., but at some point desire for the development of our culture starts at home. Look at Chattanooga (right), Detroit City (at top), and even Sacramento for this. Look at Columbus while it’s being tortured, too, and look it in the eye. Maybe MLS wouldn’t have given Columbus a market had the league started up today, but it did 20 years ago and we’re fairly sure the business isn’t hemorrhaging money and the fans haven’t quit on the idea of the Crew.

Detroit is really an incredible example, and it’s pertinent as MLS entertains expanding to the city with an organization which isn’t Detroit City FC. Full disclosure: I’ve run a club which has staged a derby with DCFC, and I’ve watched the Motor City outfit go from “Detroit should have a soccer team” to “I bet we could fund restoring a neighborhood stadium and sell it out” to defying critics about what’s possible for a fourth-tier (for now) club. And without as much first hand knowledge from this writer, Chattanooga’s growth predates DCFC’s story with some striking similarities. If either club’s ownership was unable to move forward, I have no doubt their fan bases would rally to keep the clubs alive.

— Support your local soccer-first organization, too. If there’s a group running a program in low-income areas or aiming to elevate the quality of youth soccer without demanding $4000 per player and the pipe dream of maybe being seen by FC Porto’s North American marketing director (then maybe look into whether they do good work with donations, or if the donations make sure the “technical director” has a nicer house).

So to the questions, which show an appetite for the game at all levels and a desire to move toward an open model. And again, this demands you support your local club, because the idea that Major League Soccer is going to ask its owners to risk their investment dipping into a lower tier is improbable. We’re not saying we wouldn’t love it. And we’re not saying we won’t keep asking for it. But change in American hierarchy, especially when it comes to big money, takes a lot of work and lobbying.

Yes, I realize I’ve glossed over the pro/rel part in one paragraph, but let’s be very, very real here: You entered this discussion with a very pointed opinion on promotion and relegation in America. The results of the survey say most of us want to see it, but I couldn’t convince supporters it’s a bad idea or detractors that it’s necessary. I will say this: It’d be great if leagues found a way to make it work despite the massive travel costs that would multiply a successful team’s path upward. With loads of respect for the idea and how successful the open pyramid is in other countries, few if any have to deal with the gigantic landscape of the US of A (let alone several Canadian teams as well).

According to our voters:

Chattanooga to play Atlanta Utd, host USMNT-Jamaica

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Chattanooga FC has turned raised eyebrows into believers across the United States, and now the upstart club has found its stadium the center of two massive moments.

First, Finley Stadium will play host to a United States men’s national team match for the first time, when the Yanks host Jamaica for a Feb. 3 friendly.

That was announced Tuesday, and the momentum continued later in the day when Atlanta United announced its first match in club history would be played against CFC in the same venue on Feb. 11.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Founded in 2009, Chattanooga are four times national runners-up in the National Premier Soccer League, including a showing of 18,227 for the 2015 final against New York Cosmos B.

The club has won the Hank Steinbrecher Cup and also finished runners-up once as the best amateur club in the United States.

Finley Stadium holds 20,000, and CFC is using the hashtag #40inFinley with the reasonable hopes of twice packing the building.

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When the keep’s away: NPSL goalkeeper scores on a punt from his own 18

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Desperation led the Shreveport Rafters to push their goalkeeper into the opposition box, and they paid for it.

FC Wichita goalkeeper Mark Weir belted a punt from inside his own 18 the length of the pitch and past racing defenders to secure a 3-0 win for his side in the NPSL playoffs on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Impact land Italian striker on loan ]

Weir, a Scotland native who just finished his career at Bethel University, had stopped a penalty kick earlier in the game.

Not to pile on, but it takes an especially bad corner kick to cue up an opportunity like this.

Fourth-tier NPSL, PDL to hold semifinals this weekend; PDL to hold final, too

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While Major League Soccer, the NASL and USL are all months away from concluding their seasons, clubs at the fourth tier of North American soccer are wrapping up their seasons in the next 8 days.

The National Premier Soccer League and Premier Development League will both crown new champions this year, with one side looking to win back-to-back titles… in different leagues.

[ MLS STADIA NEWS: Orlando City | Miami ]

The National Premier Soccer League opts to play its Final Four at home grounds of the higher seed over two weekends, and that puts New York Cosmos B and Chattanooga FC in the driver’s seats.

On Saturday, the star-loaded Cosmos B will host CD Aguiluchos USA at Hofstra Soccer Stadium, and will be heavy favorites. Cosmos B is coached by former MLS Cup MVP Alecko Eskandarian, and his club has crushed the competition in the majority of its matches.

They’ve conceded just 7 times to go with 49 goals scored, with MLS vets like John Neeskens joined by up-and-comers like Haji Wright. CD Aguiluchos was the 4th seed in the West, and are named in honor of the El Salvadoran power.

The other semifinal is on Saturday as well, with last year’s runners-up in Chattanooga FC hosting Indiana Fire from the Midwest Conference. The Fire are the darlings of the tournament, using a late-season surge to get into the playoffs. They won’t be favored in Tennessee, where Chattanooga’s crowd is rowdy and ready to avenge last year’s Championship loss.

[ MORE: NASL commissioner continues to want promotion/relegation ]

That loss came against the New York Red Bulls U23s, who’ve moved from the NPSL to the PDL. Over in Washington, the PDL will see MLS B-teams from New York and Seattle face independent opposition in their semifinals.

First, No. 2 seeded New York Red Bulls U-23s will hope to knock off No. 3 seeded Ocala Stampede at 9 p.m. ET before Canada’s K-W United takes on the Seattle Sounders U-23s.

source:
@SoundersU23

The Sounders finished third in their conference, but knocked off their Cascadian rivals in Portland on the way to the semifinals. They’re led by Getafe product Guillermo Delgado, stalwart back Matt Reinikka (Davidson) and playmaking defender Alex De Carolis (Canisius College).

K-W United shocked the reigning champions Michigan Bucks, and will seek an international upset on the other side of the continent, Florida Gulf Coast keeper Nathan Ingham has been strong for United, with scoring coming in bunches from Coastal Carolina product Sergio Camargo and junior college player of the year Ben Polk.

The Red Bulls will bring a balanced offensive attack into their match with Ocala, who are led by defender Paco Craig of D-2 powers Young Harris and his college teammate, midfielder Lewis Hilton.