The Portland Timbers Were Knocked Out Of The Open Cup By Eric Wynalda’s Amateur Cal FC

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

When we told you yesterday about the slew of Open Cup upsets (Open Cupsets) that happened on Tuesday, we were not expecting or ready for what happened last night. The two MLS teams playing, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers, didn’t seem like the type to take the Open Cup lightly. Seattle, true to the form which has seen them capture the Open Cup three times running, handled the Atlanta Silverbacks easily, winning 5-1. The Timbers, not so much…

Cal FC is a side that plays in the United States Adult Soccer Association, effectively the fifth tier of the American soccer pyramid. Cal FC is therefore a fully amateur team, mostly made up of players who couldn’t keep their spot on a PDL team.

The thing that makes Cal FC different is that the coach of Cal FC is none other than former US international Eric Wynalda, the opinionated Fox Soccer analyst and enfant terrible of the American game.

Wynalda, a member of three World Cup squads and former all-time leading scorer for the USMNT has simultaneously long been a critic of MLS and coveted a coaching job in the league (If you want to read more, our own Jason Davis wrote a great piece on Wynalda for The Score).

So when Cal FC rolled into Jeld-Wen field last night, it had its coach’s chip on its shoulder. Wynalda says he doesn’t want people to think of Cal FC as “Wynalda’s team,” but a) that’s probably not true and b) it’s impossible to separate the remarkable run of this team from the ambitions and ego of Eric Wynalda.

And then something amazing happened. While Harrisburg may have stormed back from 3-0 down in 15 minutes to equalize against the Revolution, the City Islanders are a professional soccer team. A number of its players have been with Major League Soccer teams. Motivated professionals pulling off a shock upset against perhaps less than fully motivated professionals is not unprecedented.

But Cal FC is made up of guys who couldn’t even make the bench at the amateur division below Harrisburg. And they held off the Portland Timbers for 90 minutes, including a miraculous reprieve when Kris Boyd, who is guaranteed over $1.5m this season, sent his penalty kick into the clear Oregonian air.

And then the game went into extra time. And Cal scored. Artur Aghasyan, whose career highlight is playing a grand total of 98 minutes in Major League Soccer and was most recently cut by the third-division Los Angeles Blues, was played through by Danny Barrera, most recently released by Serbia’s Spartak Zlatibor Voda. Aghasyan chipped Troy Perkins, US international and former MLS goalkeeper of the year. Cal took the the lead, held on, and became the first USASA team to beat an MLS team outright in a competitive game (Chivas USA lost to Roma FC on penalties in 2006).

After the game, Timbers fans did not take kindly to the loss, with people tweeting that at least one capo was abusing the players verbally. Jack Jewsbury apparently took exception to this, and allegedly had to be restrained and removed from the field.

More importantly, is Eric Wynalda as brilliant as Eric Wynalda thinks Eric Wynalda is? Is it even possible to be as brilliant as Eric Wynalda thinks Eric Wynalda is? Maybe? At least this has proved to everyone what die-hard fans already knew: that the US Open Cup is the most exciting competition in American sports.

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