NASL Notebook: Clubs Learn Potential US Open Cup Pairings, Nicht returns, Kleberson out, more

IMAGE, USSOCCER.COM

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

With the US Open Cup being the only avenue for an NASL team to earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, the league and its clubs have not been coy about the importance they place on the competition.

Now they know the road of contention.

NASL teams will enter the competition in the third round. The potential pairings for the NASL teams participating in this year’s edition of the storied cup competition were released Thursday morning.

All games are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 27.

  • The Atlanta Silverbacks will travel to face the winner of Chattanooga FC (NPSL) vs. Wilmington Hammerheads FC (USL).
  • The Carolina Railhawks, the NASL’s best-performing team in past Open Cups, will host the winner of Upward Stars FC (NPSL) vs. Charlotte Independence (USL).
  • The Fort Lauderdale Strikers will face the winner of the Charleston Battery (USL) vs. Miami United FC (NPSL). If Charleston wins, then the Strikers would travel to play them. If Miami wins, then the Strikers host.
  • Indy Eleven will host the winner of Louisville City FC (USL) vs. Lansing United (NPSL).
  • Minnesota United FC will travel to play the winner of St Louis FC (USL) vs. Des Moines Menace (PDL).
  • The New York Cosmos face the winner of New York Red Bulls II (USL) vs. Jersey Express SC (PDL). If the Express wins, then the Cosmos travel to play them. If NYRB II win, the Cosmos would host.
  • San Antonio will play the winner of Laredo Heat SC (PDL) vs. Austin Aztex (USL). If Laredo wins, then the Scorpions will travel to face them. If Austin Wins, then the Scorpions will host.
  • Jacksonville Armada FC will travel to face the winner of Virginia City Beach FC (NPSL) vs. Richmond Kickers (USL).
  • The Tampa Bay Rowdies play the winner of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL) vs. West Virginia Chaos (PDL). If Pittsburgh wins, then the Rowdies travel to face them. If West Virginia wins, then the Rowdies would host.

More Notes From Around the League

  • Coming off one of their worst performances of the year on Sunday in New York, FC Edmonton rebounded quite nicely to pick up a huge road 1-1 result at the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal. It was forward Tomi Ameobi who tallied the pivotal away goal when, in only the fourth minute, he stripped Whitecaps midfielder Gershon Koffie and slotted a shot past the keeper. Despite the absence of injured captain Albert Watson, the Eddies kept organized and nearly escaped with a clean sheet until the final minutes before stoppage time. Koffie found redemption when a bouncing ball landed in his path in the penalty area for the easy finish. Edmonton will be happy to head home for next week’s home leg with an away goal in the bag. In last year’s edition of the Canadian Championship the Eddies were victorious over the victorious over visiting MLS side Montreal Impact. If the NASL side does make it past Vancouver, it will get another shot at Montreal in the championship final.
  • The past few days for Indy Eleven fans are the very definition of bittersweet. On Tuesday the club announced the very welcome news that star goalkeeper Kristian Nicht had re-signed after his 15-day sojourn to MLS’ Montreal Impact. However, on the following day Indy dropped the devastating news that Brazilian midfielder Kleberson would be forced to miss an indefinite amount of time due to a torn Achilles. The recent setback is extremely unfortunate considering it occurred on Kleberson’s first day back on the training field after recovering from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him for the entire Spring season. The loss is a huge blow for an Indy team that has stayed competitive in every match, but has failed to create or capitalize on scoring opportunities. With eight goals, he was the club’s leading scorer in 2014. The reacquisition of Nicht this week seems even more crucial now. Indy’s defense will need to be stout while the club continues to look for its scoring identity.
  • The Fort Lauderdale Strikers made a move to strengthen their already lethal attack with the signing of forward Bruno Nunes. The 24-year-old is a young journeyman of the Brazilian league system. Since his career started in 2010, Nunes has played for six clubs, with his most successful stint coming while at Rio Preto Esporte Clube. With Rio Preto, in the second division of Brazil, he scored 15 goals in one season, his highest output as a player. With the addition of Nunes, The Strikers have now filled all of their seven international roster spots.
  • New York Cosmos keeper Keasel Broome is ready to get his first taste of international action after receiving a call up to join the Barbados national team for its next round of World Cup Qualifying. Broome recently helped lead the Cosmos B team to their first win in the NPSL in May 2. The 23-year-old keeper had to decline an invitation to join Barbados’ camp in the previous round back in March due to a shoulder injury. Broome will join the his national team on May 31 to prepare for two qualifying matches against Aruba on June 10 and June 14.
  • Ottawa Fury FC added some security in net with the signing of 23yearold keeper Waleed Cassis. The Ottawa native has an impressive youth resume. He spent time in Brazil with multiple youth clubs as a teenager before moving back to North America for college. While attending college at California State University Los Angeles, Cassis was a member of Chivas USA’s U-23 squad.