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What’s up for lower leagues in the United States this summer?

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If you’ve played, coached, or watched soccer in the United States over the past couple of decades, there’s a good chance John Motta had a hand in your competition.

As president of the United States Adult Soccer Association, he’s also being trusted to make wise decisions on when you might be able to get back on a field in a world suffering through the coronavirus pandemic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Motta also serves on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s board of directors as the chairman of the adult council, and is also navigating a tricky time as the owner of 30 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises.

We thought now would be as good a time as ever to ask Motta what’s up next for soccer in the United States.

ProSoccerTalk: John thanks for your time. Can you fill our readers in on the USASA and your role within it and soccer in America?

John Motta: “We start from your NPSLs and UPSLs which are the higher premier leagues, the women’s premier leagues, all the way down to the local club leagues in your town and the over-the-hill leagues. Our motto is, ‘We’re the game for life.’ I kinda oversee the board which directs all the policy. I’m also the chairman of the adult council, which is one of the four councils of the U.S. Soccer Federation. I serve on the Board of Directors of U.S. Soccer, representing the amateur players and amateur soccer in this country. It’s interesting, especially with everything going on with the federation now. It keeps me busy.”

PST: Now is an insane time for all of us, let alone trying to plan for how soccer’s going to look once it’s safe to get back out there. There’s no good time for a pandemic, obviously, but right before summer is a sincerely daunting challenge in timing. Where is the USASA in the forecasting and decision-making process?

JM: “We’ve got a U.S. Adult Soccer call next Wednesday and we’re gonna evaluate all our programs for the whole year. We had a historic event that was gonna happen in May: The champions of US adult soccer, which was Newtown Pride, were gonna play the UEFA Regions’ Cup champions from Poland (Dolny Śląsk). We already had to cancel that because of travel restrictions. This was gonna be the first time U.S. Soccer and UEFA combined to have an international event. We were psyched, but now we have to wait another year.

“Also the HankSteinbrecher Cup, which was gonna be played in late May. That’s not looking good, only because I don’t see this blowing over that quickly. I hope it does. Being that it’s two months away, it’s hard to keep it on the schedule but we might be able to wait longer because all the clubs are in busing distance. And the soccer festival, our biggest event, from open divisions to Over 75s, was gonna be held in California this year. Even though it’s scheduled in July, we may still wait until May 1. I don’t see us canceling that until at least a month from now.

[ MORE: USL League Two plans to play ]

“And the USASA National Amateur Cup, which has grown in popularity because of the automatic berth in the Open Cup, the Steinbrecher Cup, and $15,000 in prizes. That usually happens in August with the elimination rounds happening now, which obviously they are not. Maybe we push that final in October to give all the teams in the states the opportunity to hold their qualifiers. That’s what I’m going to recommend to the board on Wednesday. I think they’ll agree, hopefully they’ll agree. When this is over everybody’s gonna wanna do something, anxious to play soccer and watch games. Postponing everything (for a year) is not good idea right now.”

PST: How about all the local leagues that carry so much weight in their communities? New York City and Maryland have institutions. I know the league in my home town of Buffalo (the BDSL) is a monstrous part of summer here with many divisions and promotional/relegation. What advice would give players wondering what their summer holds?

JM: “We definitely contacted our insurance provider to give us some guidance. It takes one incident, let’s say a player is playing and catches it, claims he caught up from playing soccer and passes away. That’s a tragedy and a huge lawsuit, right? That’s why we postponed all activities until April 30. In a couple of weeks, we will have to get together and maybe again extend that. But we’ve told our members if they go out and play, they are on their own because our insurance company wasn’t going to cover anything for the month of April.”

PST: As a soccer lover, how do you feel at an emotional level, watching leagues contemplate their summers and clubs contemplate their present and futures?

JM: “I’ll be honest: In the 1990s I owned a Division 3 professional team, the New Hampshire Phantoms. I think they still exist today in the USL amateur league. As a former owner of a team, you rely on games and your sponsors rely on your playing. I know the difficulties of running teams in the NPSL, even the UPSL. Even though they aren’t classified as professional, they run their teams in a professional manner. I’m saying to myself, Wow, here are these owners that put all this capital up front to run these teams and now they are just doing nothing. I own Dunkin’ Donuts shops, luckily they are open cause it’s called an essential business but I can imagine what it would be like if I have to close all my doors. How will I survive? There’s no difference with lower league soccer clubs. Hopefully they will survive. Every day that goes by it just kills me because I know they want to get on the field and this damn virus is keeping us all locked up.

PST: What else should people know about the USASA right now?

JM: “They should know that we’re doing everything we can. I gotta call from (a professional league) the other day to talk about the possibility of a combined event or schedule, and we are in the process of contacting our insurance company. I’ll jump over a mountain to play soccer, so hopefully we can get something done this summer once this is over.”

U.S. Open Cup moves forward as MLS teams enter the fray this week

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Any minnows remaining find themselves in the ocean as the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup takes its fourth round bow on Tuesday night.

Will we see any Cupsets this week? Hard to say. MLS teams haven’t played a league game in over a week heading into the fourth round, while the NASL and USL are coming off weekend matches.

[ MORE: Who will be Southampton’s next manager? ]

Then, there’s PDL professional side Kitsap Pumas and USASA entry La Maquina FC, who would have to knock off Seattle Sounders and L.A. Galaxy to move forward. Either of those would be absolutely shocking wins.

One of those will be contested tonight, with the Galaxy hosting La Maquina.

Fourth round matches

Tuesday
Colorado Rapids (MLS) vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL)
Real Salt Lake (MLS) vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (USL)
L.A. Galaxy (MLS) vs. La Maquina FC (USASA)
Portland Timbers (MLS) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

Wednesday
Rochester Rhinos (USL) vs. New York Red Bulls (MLS)
Jacksonville Armada (NASL) vs. Orlando City (MLS)
Chicago Fire (MLS) vs. Indy Eleven (NASL)
New York City FC (MLS) vs. New York Cosmos (NASL)
Philadelphia Union (MLS) vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL)
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) vs. New England Revolution (MLS)
Columbus Crew SC (MLS) vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)
DC United (MLS) vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL)
Minnesota United (NASL) vs. Sporting KC (MLS)
FC Dallas (MLS) vs. Oklahoma City Energy (USL)
Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. San Antonio FC (USL)
Seattle Sounders (MLS) vs. Kitsap Pumas (PDL)

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Cupset in Sacramento, NASL teams thrive

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Fourth-tier professional side Kitsap Pumas knocked USL side Sacramento Republic out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in third round dominated by the second-tier on Wednesday.

Kitsap, who plays as a professional side in the mostly amateur PDL, picked up a 3-1 win over the Republic.

Kitsap and fifth-tier side La Maquina FC are the lowest ranked sides remaining in the tournament. La Maquina, from Santa Ana, California, had an all-USASA matchup with L.A. Wolves and won 2-0.

[ MORE: Man City signs Gundogan from BVB ]

The NASL rebounded from last year’s poor USOC results — as predicted by commissioner Bill Peterson — with a resounding night of results. The nine teams of the second-tier league went 7-2 against third-tier USL competition (The USL has applied for second tier status, and went 6-9 Wednesday).

June 15’s fourth round is now a showdown between MLS and NASL or USL sides, the exception being an all-MLS matchup between Portland and San Jose.

Full results
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1-1 (2-0, PKs) Richmond Kickers
Jacksonville Armanda 2-1 Charleston Battery
Chattanooga FC 1-2 Harrisburg City Islanders
New York Cosmos 2-0 Jersey Express
Carolina RailHawks 5-0 Charlotte Independence
Miami FC 1-2 Wilmington Hammerheads
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-0 FC Cincinnati
Rochester Rhinos 2-0 Lansdowne Bhoys
Indy Eleven 2-1 Louisville City FC
Saint Louis FC 0-2 Minnesota United
Rayo OKC 1-2 Oklahoma City Energy
Des Moines Menace 1-2 San Antonio FC
Arizona United 0-3 Colorado Springs Switchbacks
La Maquina FC 2-0 L.A. Wolves FC
Kitsap Pumas 3-1 Sacramento Republic

Fourth round matches
Rochester Rhinos (USL) vs. New York Red Bulls (MLS)
Jacksonville Armada (NASL) vs. Orlando City (MLS)
Chicago Fire (MLS) vs. Indy Eleven (NASL)
New York City FC (MLS) vs. New York Cosmos (NASL)
Philadelphia Union (MLS) vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL)
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) vs. New England Revolution (MLS)
Columbus Crew SC (MLS) vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)
DC United (MLS) vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL)
Minnesota United (NASL) vs. Sporting KC (MLS)
FC Dallas (MLS) vs. Oklahoma City Energy (USL)
Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. San Antonio FC (USL)
Colorado Rapids (MLS) vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL)
Real Salt Lake (MLS) vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (USL)
L.A. Galaxy (MLS) vs. La Maquina FC (USASA)
Seattle Sounders (MLS) vs. Kitsap Pumas (PDL)
Portland Timbers (MLS) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

Will upsets continue in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round?

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The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup hits the third round on Wednesday, with NASL teams entering the fray and at least one fourth-tier or lower side guaranteed to advance to face MLS competition.

The USASA had three teams win second round matches, and two will face each other on Wednesday. The L.A. Wolves knocked off the USL’s Orange County Blues, while L Maquina FC handed the NPSL’s Sacramento Gold an ouster. They will tangle for the right to a high-profile match-up with the L.A. Galaxy.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Gonzalez wins Liga MX with Pachuca ]

We’ll also see NASL vs. USL geographical rivalries when Carolina faces Charlotte and Rayo OKC meets Oklahoma City.

Wednesday’s third round matches
Chattanooga FC (NPSL) vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL)
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) vs. Richmond Kickers (USL)
Jacksonville Armada (NASL) vs. Charleston Battery (USL)
New York Cosmos (NASL) vs. Jersey Express (PDL)
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) vs. Charlotte Independence (USL)
Miami FC (NASL) vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (USL)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) vs FC Cincinnati (USL)
Rochester Rhinos (USL) vs. Lansdowne Bhoys FC (USASA)
Indy Eleven (NASL) vs. Louisville City FC (USL)
Saint Louis FC (USL) vs. Minnesota United (NASL)
Rayo OKC (NASL) vs Oklahoma City Energy (USL)
Des Moines Menace (PD) vs. San Antonio FC (USL)
Arizona United (USL) vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL)
La Maquina (USASA) vs. L.A. Wolves (USASA)
Kitsap Pumas (PDL) vs. Sacramento Republic (USL)

US Open Cup second round wrap: Several USL sides clipped by “minnows”

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In one more round, USL sides will become the smallest fish in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s pond.

On Wednesday, several lost that opportunity to USASA, NPSL and PDL sides.

It was a night for minnows, as a batch of tightly-contested second round games featured several upsets as USL teams entered the tournament.

[ MLS: Sporting KC knocks off New England ]

And there’s a guarantee that a fourth-tier side or lower will see the fourth round, thanks to a pair of surprise wins that saw the LA Galaxy II and Orange County Blues drop out of the tourney.

NASL sides enter in the third round (May 27), and American-born MLS clubs join June 16-17. Highlights of the third-round are a PDL vs. USASA matchup, as well as Baby Cascadia Cup draw of Portland and Seattle 2 sides.

As an aside, the “2” sides of USL make their scorelines quite jumbled, Shoutout to L.A. and RBNY for going with “II”.

Second round wrap
Wilmington Hammerheads 1-1 (PKs, 3-5) Chattanooga FC
Charlotte Independence 4-1 Upward Stars
Charleston Battery 1-0 Miami United
Lansing United 0-1 Louisville City
Jersey Express 1-0 New York Red Bulls II
Reading United 0-3 Harrisburg City Islanders
Rochester Rhinos 1-0 Greater Binghamton FC Thunder (pictured above)
Long Island Rough Riders 0-1 Real Monarchs
Colorado Springs Switchbacks 2-1 Harpo’s FC
Seattle Sounders 2 4-2 Kitsap Pumas
Michigan Bucks 0-2 Portland Timbers 2
Richmond Kickers 2-0 Virginia Beach City FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 3-0 West Virginia Chaos
Saint Louis FC 2-1 Des Moines Menace
Austin Aztex 2-0 Laredo Heat
Tulsa Roughnecks 1-0 Seacoast United Phantoms
Midland/Odessa Sockers 1-3 Oklahoma City Energy
Sacramento Republic 4-2 Sonoma County Sol
Arizona United 0-3 Chula Vista FC
LA Galaxy II 1-2 Ventura County Fusion
Orange County Blues 1-2 PSA Elite

Third round schedule
Chattanooga FC (NPSL) vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)
Carolina Railhawks (NASL) vs. Charlotte Independence (USL)
Charleston Battery (USL) vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL)
Indy Eleven (NASL) vs. Louisville City FC (USL)
Jersey Express (PDL) vs. New York Cosmos (NASL)
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL) vs. Rochester Rhinos (USL)
Real Monarchs (USL) vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL)
Seattle Sounders 2 (USL) vs. Portland Timbers 2 (USL)
Richmond Kickers (USL) vs. Jacksonville Armada (NASL)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL) vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)
Saint Louis FC (USL) vs. Minnesota United (NASL)
San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) vs. Austin Aztex (USL)
Tulsa Roughnecks (USL) vs. Oklahoma City Energy (USL)
Sacramento Republic (USL) vs. Chula Vista FC (USASA)
Ventura County Fusion (PDL) vs. PSA Elite (USASA)