The Orange County Blues entered the 2015 U.S. Open Cup tournament on Wednesday, and they exited the knockout competition the same night, falling 2-1 to PSA Elite at University High School in Irvine. Michael Salazar gave the "hosts" (the venue was kind of neutral for both sides) the lead in the 19th minute, before Mats Bjurman sealed the result just after the hour mark.
Blues head coach Oliver Wyss mixed up his lineup somewhat on the night. I hesitate to say it was a weaker group or reserves, since the nature of USL teams means most players tend to see at least semi-regular playing time, but there some players who haven't gotten sustained minutes getting the nod on the night. Though PSA weren't able to hang seven goals on Orange County like they did in their first round Open Cup win, they were more than up for the game and punished the Blues for an inability to finish until the end.
And that may be the main bright spot on the night, as after PSA Elite went down a man in the final 10 minutes, the Blues grabbed a goal in the 90th minute, courtesy of rookie Tyler Feeley. It was the youngster's first professional start, and his first professional goal, so congrats to him for notching those milestones on the night.
Otherwise, from a Blues perspective, it's a disappointing result, no doubt about it. The Blues' streak of not getting beyond the third round of the Open Cup will continue another year, as they don't even reach the third round this time around.
For PSA Elite, it's an opportunity for the amateur side to possibly go beyond their run in 2014, when they lost in the third round. This year, they'll be facing off in the next round against USL PDL side Ventura County Fusion, no pushovers in their own right in this competition, who knocked off the LA Galaxy II. At least it wasn't just the Blues who fell among the USL teams.
In fact, another California amateur side, Chula Vista FC, continued their run in the tournament after beating another USL side, Arizona United SC, 3-0. So it pretty much comes down to PSA or Chula Vista to see which amateur team gets bragging rights (and a cash prize) for going the farthest in this year's tournament. On paper, it seems like Chula Vista have the tougher road, as they have to travel to NorCal to take on Sacramento Republic. Still, as we found out tonight, that's why they play the games, and we'll see if either would-be Cinderella will make it to a date against an MLS team in the fourth round.
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