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U.S. Open Cup wrap: “Cupsets” dot second round slate

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There were “Cupsets” in several locations during the early matches of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s second round on Wednesday.

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Two PDL teams, an NPSL side, and a league qualifier picked up wins over USL competition, with FC Wichita, Mississippi Brilla, Ocean City Nor’easters, and NTX Rayados recording wins.

Tulsa Roughnecks 3-4 FC Wichita

The USL hosts led 1-0 and 2-1 through Jhon Pirez and Riggs Lennon, but the pesky NPSL visitors refused to go away. Franck Yayou scored two goals and outscored its pro opponents 2-1 down the stretch in one of the night’s “Cupsets.”

FC Cincinnati 4-1 (aet) Detroit City FC

There was controversy before the game when FCC decided to play in a much smaller venue and limit away tickets to a few dozen, and Detroit used it as a rallying cry to the tune of an early lead through a counterattack befitting almost any league on Earth. Cincy answered big time, but needed extra time to put away the NPSL side.

FC Motown 1-3 Penn FC

Another scare from an NPSL side saw well-traveled MLS man Dilly Duka put the hosts ahead in the 53rd minute, but the visitors scored thrice in the final 11 minutes to move onto the third round.

Jacksonville Armada 1-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies

An old NASL rivalry saw Jimmy Banks’ 58th minute goal carry the Armada into the third round.

Elsewhere
North Carolina FC 3-0 Lansdowne Bhoys FC
Charlotte Independence 1-3 Ocean City Nor’easters
Erie Commodores 1-2 Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Reading United 1-1 (3-4, pks) Richmond Kickers
Seacoast United Phantoms 0-2 Elm City Express
Charleston Battery 1-0 South Georgia Tormenta FC
Louisville City FC 5-0 Long Island Rough Riders
Miami FC2 1-3 Miami United 
Mississippi Brilla 1-0 Indy Eleven
Midland-Odessa Sockers 0-4 San Antonio FC
Nashville SC
2-0 Inter Nashville FC
Colorado Springs Switchbacks
3-2 FC Denver
NTX Rayados 5-2 (aet) Oklahoma City Energy
Duluth FC – Saint Louis FC
Sporting Arizona – Phoenix Rising
Fresno FC – Orange County FC
Las Vegas Lights – FC Tucson
Reno 1868 – Portland Timbers U23
Sacramento Republic – San Francisco City FC

Sources: FC Motown to sign former Trinidad international Julius James

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FC Motown has been busy in 2018, adding notable names like Dilly Duka and Hunter Freeman into the fold ahead of their inaugural NPSL season, and the club isn’t done just yet.

Pro Soccer Talk has learned that the New Jersey-based club has signed former Trinidad & Tobago international Julius James, who last played in 2017 with USL side Sacramento Republic FC.

James, 33, made 16 appearances for the Soca Warriors from 2008 to 2011 and has played for a number of clubs throughout the United States during his professional career.

The University of Connecticut product featured for various MLS teams, including Toronto FC, the Houston Dynamo, D.C. United and Columbus Crew, prior to ending up in NPSL in 2018.

Motown will begin its run of competitive matches on Wednesday, as manager Sacir Hot and Co. host the New York Red Bulls Under-23 side in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Drew University’s Ranger Stadium.

Sources: Cosmos midfielder Danny Szetela joins NPSL side FC Motown

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Uncertainty around NASL has forced a number of players to seek new ventures in their playing careers, and that has become the case for yet another high-profile talent.

[ MORE: Red Bulls make history with big CCL road win over Tijuana ]

Pro Soccer Talk has learned through multiple sources that former New York Cosmos midfielder Danny Szetela has agreed to join NPSL club FC Motown.

The 30-year-old had previously played with the NASL club since its return to the league in 2013. In that time, the New Jersey-native notched six goals and two assists in over 100 appearances for the three-time modern-day NASL champions.

NASL recently cancelled its 2018 season after the league was denied an injunction in appeals court that would have maintained NASL’s Division II status.

Szetela began his professional career back in 2004 when he signed with the Columbus Crew from MLS. Additionally, the veteran has spent time with D.C. United and a brief stint in Europe at Racing Santander (Spain) and Brescia (Italy).

FC Motown has quickly put its name on the map after recently signing former MLS player Dilly Duka, as well as the team’s manager — Sacir Hot — who came up through the New York Red Bulls and U.S. Men’s National team academies.

The club will make its debut in NPSL this season, after maintaining a perfect 22-0-1 record last year in the Garden State Soccer League. FC Motown will play all of its home matches this season on the campus of Drew University located in Madison, New Jersey.

During FC Motown’s current preseason campaign, Hot and Co. have recorded wins over USL side Bethlehem Steel and the New York Red Bulls Under-19 team.

Miami FC, Jax Armada set to join NPSL

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NASL’s future remains heavily in doubt, and two more clubs are seeking temporary shelter in the meantime.

[ MORE: Cavani becomes PSG’s all-time leading scorer ]

On Saturday, reports began to surface stating that both Miami FC and Jacksonville Armada will be moving to the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) ahead of the 2018 season.

The NPSL is currently considered a fourth-tier division in the U.S. soccer pyramid.

Pro Soccer Talk has since been able to the confirm these developments.

Soc Takes has also reported that Miami is likely to use a “variant of their name” so that the club will still be eligible to play in NASL when/if the league resumes play.

At the moment, NASL has four teams ahead of any potential 2018 season, with California United FC, 1904 FC, the New York Cosmos and Puerto Rico FC involved. Cal United and 1904 FC — both expansion sides — have never played a match before.

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.

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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: