Cosmos, Silverbacks only NASL Teams to Advance in US Open Cup

IMAGE, NASL.COM

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

The NASL’s introduction into the 2015 edition of the U.S. Open Cup was a rough one, as seven of the nine participating American clubs were eliminated. Only the New York Cosmos and Atlanta Silverbacks were able to survive the third round action on Wednesday night.

New York and Atlanta also happened to be the only teams facing amateur opposition from the fourth division NPSL. The seven losing NASL teams on the night all bowed out to third division sides from the USL.

The fashion in which most of the NASL teams were eliminated was crushing for the clubs and supporters that had glimmers of hope for a deep run in the competition. The Tampa Bay Rowdies, Jacksonville Armada FC, Indy Eleven, Carolina RailHawks, and the San Antonio Scorpions were all held scoreless in their matches.

A major theme across the board on Saturday night was late letdowns. After failing to muster any attacking momentum, both the Rowdies and RailHawks conceded late goals to lose 1-0 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Charlotte Independence respectively. Indy Eleven managed to hold on until late into extra time before Louisville City FC broke through and netted goals in the 115th and 119th minutes.

Meanwhile, Minnesota United FC was one of the rare teams to score first in their match, but they lost the lead in the 80th minute when Saint Louis FC converted a penalty. After 30 minutes of scoreless play in extra time, the Loons found themselves on the losing end of a penalty shootout in which both Ibson and Christian Ramirez failed to convert.

The only NASL team to escape from a late collapse was the Atlanta Silverbacks. After conceding a goal to Chattanooga FC in the 87th minute, the visiting Silverbacks earned a penalty in the final minute of regulation that Shaka Bangura converted. In extra time it was forward Jamie Chavez who notched the game winner that guaranteed Atlanta a match at the New York Red Bulls on May 16th in the next round of the U.S. Open Cup.

The New York Cosmos, the only unbeaten team in NASL action this year, were the only team to thoroughly dominate their opposition. With a starting XI that did not feature six regular starters, including striker Raúl captain Carlos Mendes, the Cosmos were still able to defeat the New Jersey Express 3-0. Leo Fernandes, Sebastian Guenzatti, and Mads Stokkelien were the players to get on the scoresheet and secure a home match for the Cosmos against New York City FC on May 17 in the fourth round.

The poor showing from the majority of NASL clubs is a huge disappointment from a league perspective considering the significance that NASL officials place on the storied competition. Being swept by USL competition in the third round in seven matches means less opportunity to show off their quality against MLS competition in the next round. It also drastically reduces the chances of an NASL team making a serious run at the coveted CONCACAF Champions League spot up for grabs in the U.S. Open Cup final.

  • Christopher

    “Being swept by USL competition in the third round in seven matches means less opportunity to show off their quality against MLS competition in the next round.”

    Beind swept by USL competition in the third round in seven matches also means many will question whether or not that qualith actually exists.

  • alex gago

    Why are members in the media among other wishing for and rooting for the collapse of the NASL? I do see the lojic while in England they four leagues and no one routs against a league.

    • fastrightleg

      You have a point. When it comes to the NASL, it always seems that the media seems to want it to fail. As if, oh, the model didn’t work out here once, so it won’t ever again even though it’s successful in several different countries over long periods of time.

      Kinda like Thatcher’s TINA slogan — “There is no alternative,” but with American soccer.

    • slowleftarm

      They probably find NASL fanboys to be as annoying as the rest of us do.