How is it already Wednesday afternoon?
U.S. Open Cup so far…
Last night’s play produced four upsets. Home dogs Reading United and Ocean City Nor’easters of the PDL downed Pennsylvania USL PRO visitors Harrisburg and Pittsburgh by identical 1-0 scores. Road dogs Des Moines Menace of the PDL drove one state north and beat Minnesota United FC of the NASL 1-0, and PDL side FC Tucson went into San Antonio and beat the Scorpions on penalty kicks after finishing level on two goals.
Otherwise, home favorites Richmond, Dayton, Charlotte, Carolina Railhawks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Rochester and the L.A. Blues all advanced, as did traveling teams from Orlando, Atlanta, Wilmington and Charleston. That leaves eight remaining USL PRO teams, four teams from the NASL, and four remaining survivors from the First Round.
Notable matches from Tuesday included region scrapes in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and California, not to mention the Battle of Tampa, which the Rowdies of the NASL won 2-1 over the VSI Tampa club from USL PRO.
With the teams from Major League Soccer entering the competition on May 28, we get several interesting matchups. For whom will Casey Townsend play when D.C. United visits Richmond, its USL PRO affiliate? New England also visits its affiliate, Rochester. Meanwhile, Dayton goes to Columbus.
Lower-division teams Charleston, Orlando, L.A. Blues, Fort Lauderdale, Carolina and Tampa also host Third Round matches. Life will be a bit tougher for Des Moines, Atlanta, Reading United, FC Tucson and Wilmington, all of whom travel to face an MLS side.
While Charleston’s opponent — the San Jose Earthquakes — was the best team in North American soccer until the MLS playoffs last year, the Quakes are struggling in 2013. At the moment they’re nursing a 3-4-6 record, and the late-scoring pop that once defined them has fizzled. Despite returning League MVP and 2012 scoring leader Chris Wondolowski, the Quakes have a -6 goal differential after 13 games. They’re currently one spot above the Western Conference cellar.
So our draw could have been worse. Much worse.
Tickets on sale
The Battery ticketing staff is already working its way through its list of regular customers (I just bought my tickets over the phone), but to get a jump on Tuesday’s match, call the Battery ticket office and order over the phone today. You can also order online, but the web ticketing won’t start until 9 a.m. Thursday, and there’s a surcharge. Which is why we use the phone.
Season ticket customers get a discount, and all you Three Lions Club people are already covered.
Tickets start at $10. These matches against MLS teams have traditionally sold well, so don’t anticipate walking up to the window on game day and getting your preferred seats.
Battery en route
Last night’s win in Portland guaranteed that the Battery’s upcoming four-game homestand would be at least five games with that San Jose match in the mix. It could conceivably reach six consecutive home matches if Charleston upsets the Earthquake and draw a home game in the fifth round on June 12. The Battery are scheduled to be in Pittsburgh on the 15th.
(16:35 UPDATE: Strike that. The Open Cup just released its draw for the Fourth Round, and if they Battery beat San Jose, their reward will be a road game. Option 1 is Atlanta. Option 2 is Salt Lake City. Root accordingly.)
That extended homestand gets underway Saturday night against Rochester. I’ll try to get out on Friday to talk to the team in advance of the match, but I’m going to climb out on a limb and suggest that the biggest challenge on Thursday and Friday will be getting everyone’s bodies back on Eastern Standard Time.
Normally I’d take this opportunity to delve into last night’s match in greater detail, but we’re a bit busy for that at the moment.
My biggest takeaway at this point is that Dane Kelly is playing great football at the moment, and if Quinton Griffith and Jose Cuevas can get back to full strength any time soon, this could be a frightening soccer club, particularly at home. The Battery are good enough to win with those guys out or working their way back to match fitness, but they’ve won mostly with defense. Give them a dynamic attack to go with that solid back wall, and this team could be a U.S. Open Cup nightmare for MLS franchises.
NOTES FROM PORTLAND: By the way, I had my good friend and former college roommate Robert Huffman in the stands at JELD-WEN Field last night, and he passed on a few observations. The game itself looked like “men versus boys,” Robert said at half, but he deemed the crowd (which he estimated at about 1,000 — I’ve been unable to find an official count) to be embarrassingly small by Portland standards (I was surprised at how few showed up myself).
However, about 50 members of the Timbers Army showed up, and they stood and sang through much of the match. Robert’s favorite taunt of the night was when the TA came up with a Southern-themed diss by serenading the Battery with “You All Live in the Same Trailer Park,” sung to the tune of “Yellow Submarine.”
Adult Rec Playoffs
Whole lot of adult recreation leagues wrapping up play this month. Tonight we’ve got the Mount Pleasant Division 2 Coed semi-finals at the Woods-Flowers Soccer Complex. The 7:45 p.m. match pits Back That Pass Up against DSA, and then at 9 p.m. the Tattooed Moose takes on Bottles Beverage Superstore. We’d like to be covering it, but there just aren’t enough hours in the the day today.
On Thursday night it’s Home Team BBQ vs. Taco Boy at Stoney Field for the CSL Men’s D-2 Championship. And we might actually be able to get to that one. More finals are scheduled for next week, and you can find them listed on our color-coded Community Calendar, which is located on our home page.
Speaking of that community calendar, the best way to get your organization’s soccer-related events on that bad boy is by getting your own community calendar login. Send me an email with your pertinent information (name, email, organization, etc.) and we’ll set you up with an account that will let you add and edit public calendar items.
Speaking of schedules, Charleston Southern sent out its 2013 season schedule a few hours ago. We’ll get it up on the site shortly.
Also, if you’d like to supply your own write-up of a soccer related event, I am all ears. Seriously, I’m just a bunch of ears. Looks really awful. And my Q-Tip budget. You don’t want to know. Just shoot me a note.
OK, so happy Hump Day, Lowcountry, and check back tomorrow for more soccer yackety. Until then, no diving…
TOP IMAGE: Steven Lenhart, one of the better center forwards in Major League Soccer, is also a lightning rod for controversy. He’s a physical player, but he’s also someone who seems to understand how to psyche opponents out of their game. And we certainly hope he suits up on May 28, if only because we want to see how Colin Falvey deals with his gamesmanship.