The Los Angeles Area USASA Top 10

UPDATE: FC Golden State has been removed from the top 10 and FC Long Beach has been included at number 10. More details on this club below.

Previously

This is the first attempt to rank USASA teams in the LA area, that I know of. This ranking measures, especially, team performance across the affiliated USASA leagues (NPSL, PDL, UPSL, SoCal Premier, etc). More weight is given to clubs playing beyond their league conferences, for example. Simply put, with more success outside of league play, comes more merit. Sounds reasonable, right? I don’t think it’s that hard to comprehend.


Criteria

  1. First off, my metric encompasses clubs throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, made up of its counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, Ventura.
  2. Results against clubs in the area, regardless of league, are especially favored.
  3. Clubs competing in cups beyond their league, and winning in those cups, are also weighted favorably.

Clarification

I’m going to lay this down once, to eliminate misperceptions in the future. I don’t subscribe to the notion that the NPSL is a better league, in general, nor by default. The NPSL has improved greatly in presentation and perception off the field, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to on-field success. I’ll give you two or three examples of how NPSL clubs haven’t delivered on the field.

The NPSL’s Sacramento Gold fell to La Máquina of the UPSL in last year’s Open Cup. Prior to that match, the Gold went on TV in Sacramento saying that they were going to come down here to win. Fast forward to Open Cup 2017 qualifying and the NPSL’s Orange County FC fell to “La Machina” [sic], on September 17, 2016.

OCFC got a “rematch” in February, and lost that too.

So what? Why do I make a big deal about this? To not assume that teams in a startup league like the UPSL, or any league, are inferior by default. This is too common a characteristic in American soccer and among its fans, even front offices.

The Top 10, Defined

1. Moreno Valley FC is the defending USASA Region IV Champion. This means they’re the best California team outside of the professional leagues (USSF divisions 1-3, do not confuse this to be anything other), and they’ve demonstrated it in the State Cup. Last year they defeated LA Wolves, the club that defeated the USL’s OC Blues, later-rebranded-as Orange County SC in last year’s Open Cup. Performance is telling, and especially against other regional standouts. “Mo Val” recently defended their state title successfully versus UPSL standout Santa Ana Winds FC in Norco, and they have another title defense coming up against Eric Wynalda’s L.A. Wolves.

2. L.A. Wolves have done some significant revamping since last year’s Open Cup exit versus Santa Ana’s La Máquina. They’ve brought on Eric Wynalda as head coach, perform consistently well in the UPSL, and are alive in two other competitions, the State Cup and the Open Cup. They have a chance to eliminate the sitting State Champion in Moreno Valley, and the have a chance to advance in the Open Cup versus San Diego Zest of the PDL.

3. La Máquina currently sits in third in the UPSL, and also has had a lot on their plate recently. They’re still alive in the Open Cup, and will travel to face Fresno Fuego at Chukchansi Park. They’re no strangers to travelling to face PDL teams. Last year, La Máquina eliminated Portland Timbers PDL, in Oregon. La Máquina was recently eliminated from the State Cup vs San Nicolás SC of Santa Barbara, by a score of 1-0.

4. Santa Ana Winds FC sit in 2nd in the UPSL and are having a turnaround season, having rebuilt their club with players from the reputable Santa Ana College Dons program. Winds FC won a 2017 Open Cup qualifying match over La Habra City, before being eliminated in the 2nd qualifying round by La Máquina. Santa Ana managed to grind out wins in the State Cup, including a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad Royals of the SoCal Premier League, and a momentous 3-2 comeback over UPSL leader Strikers South Coast. Their creative individual skills were not enough to best regional powerhouse Moreno Valley FC in the State Cup quarterfinals.

5. Real Sociedad Royals are 2nd in the SoCal Premier League, and like in-league club Outbreak SC, are accustomed to competing in extra-league tournaments. They’ve won Open Cup qualifiers in the past, and topped the best team in the UPSL in Strikers South Coast, effectively eliminating them from the State Cup. The only thing keeping them from being ranked higher than Winds FC is their loss to the Santa Ana side in the group stage of the State Cup. The Royals were eliminated from 2017 Open Cup qualifying by L.A. Wolves, 4-1.

6. Outbreak SC sits in 3rd in the SoCal Premier League, and has an upcoming Open Cup match against FC Golden State Force of the PDL on May 10. Outbreak qualified for the Open Cup by defeating in-league Buena Park FC and San Fernando Valley Scorpions of the UPSL.

7. Strikers FC South Coast, while at the top of the UPSL with goal differential, the Strikers fell twice in the group stage of the State Cup. In one loss the club blew a 2-0 lead to Winds FC, who exposed them by taking control of possession, and turning the game in their favor 3-2. Strikers fell to Real Sociedad by the same score, finishing last in the State Cup group stage, but did edge out Santa Barbara club San Nicolás in the State Cup, in which the latter is a semifinalist.

8. Riverside Coras are dominating the NPSL Southwest Conference, which includes conference leaders OCFC and FC Arizona. Surprisingly, to this writer, the NPSL Southwest is the only competition Coras are participating in. Coras had a UPSL squad, and nave focused on the NPSL, which is the right thing to do in my book, but are absent of the Open Cup and the State Cup (more on this later).

9. Orange County FC is having an impressive debut season in the NPSL, sitting 2nd behind Coras. The Irvine club has a chance to bump Riverside out of 1st, in their upcoming match, which will reveal who’s the best in the NPSL SW. OCFC is undefeated and features ex-Máquina player José “Chila” Montes and ex-Sueño MLS Winner Armando “Mambo” Flores of Santa Ana, CA, among others. OCFC lost an Open Cup qualifier to La Máquina, of Santa Ana, in September 2016, and a rematch in February 2017.

10. FC Long Beach is a semifinalist in the State Cup and has won 3 matches in that tournament, in which they defeated Los Angeles United Soccer Club, of the L.A. Premier League, along with Chula Vista and Newhall Premier, but were pummeled by L.A. Wolves, which is revealing. They have an upcoming match with San Nicolás SC. FC Long Beach appears to be a non-league club, described as the men’s club of the Long Beach Youth Soccer Association. Due to this fact there’s no telling how this club would fare in leagues like the UPSL, NPSL, or the SoCal Premier’s first division. Their only measure against a UPSL club is an 8-0 loss to L.A. Wolves.

Closing thoughts

As a fan, I argue that more interleague play, outside of Open Cup one-offs and the like, are a necessary part of “growing the game,” which every league and club claims to want to do. It’s a win-win when leagues and clubs cooperate. Maybe there should be an invitational for LA area clubs. Anyway, whether observers agree with my assessment or not, USASA clubs in the LA area need prodding to produce even better matchups. The UPSL and the NPSL are consolidating and forming top clubs in the LA area. The NPSL Southwest Conference has improved greatly with its recent expansion teams. The So Cal Premier’s best will always be there pecking at the top.

Remember, before you blow a gasket, rankings are never stagnant. As boxing referee Mills Lane used to say, “Let’s get it on.”

What do you say? What’s your top ten? Do you hate me yet?

 

 

 

 

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La Máquina sigue avanzando en la Copa Abierta

La Máquina FC se convirtió en el último equipo de la División Abierta (Open Division) con vida en la Copa Abierta de Estados Unidos (US Open Cup) al derrotar a su compañero de la liga UPSL, el Club Lobos de Los Ángeles (LA Wolves), la noche del miércoles primero de junio en Westminster High School en Westminster, CA. Con esta victoria La Máquina avanzó a la cuarta ronda y enfrentará al Galaxy de Los Ángeles el 14 de junio en el StubHub Center a las 7:30 pm.

El atacante de La Máquina Edwin Borboa, que ha jugado con clubes de la Liga y Ascenso MX incluyendo a Chivas, Pachuca, Leones Negros, Atlante, León, Lobos BUAP e Indios de Cd. Juarez, fue el hombre del partido al marcar dos goles en los minutos 17 y 68. El Club Lobos de Los Ángeles salió con mayor intensidad en la segunda mitad del partido y tuvo una serie de oportunidades de gol en los últimos 15 minutos del tiempo regular, pero La Máquina los mantuvo en cero.

La Máquina ha superado a sus oponentes en cada ronda de esta Copa Abierta con un marcador total de 6-0, con victorias de 2-0 sobre los Timbers T-23 (PDL), Oro de Sacramento (Sacramento Gold, NPSL) y Club Lobos de Los Ángeles (LA Wolves (UPSL).

La Máquina, on to the next round

Santa Ana-based La Máquina FC of the United Premier Soccer League defeated Sacramento Gold of the National Premier Soccer League in an elimination game in the Second Round of the US Open Cup on Wednesday night May 18 at Westminster High School.

La Máquina dominated their rival since the start of the match but could not capitalize on their chances until the 70th minute when Edwin Borboa broke through. Midfielder José Castro Pérez scored a goal on a volley at the 79th minute to kill the game.

The next opponent for La Máquina will be LA Wolves FC, a team that is also a member of the UPSL. It will be the first time in the history of the Open Cup that teams in this league meet in an elimination game in a later round.

The match between La Máquina and LA Wolves will be played at Westminster High School in Westminster, CA at 7 pm on Wednesday, June 1. The winner will face the LA Galaxy in the Fourth Round.

A Brief History of Orange County Soccer 

This piece will give a simple timeline of Orange County soccer at the professional and semi-professional level, and not at the youth level, which historically has always been very healthy and robust. Unfortunately, reputable independent youth academies or development squads like the Fullerton Rangers, Pateadores, PSA Elite and others have never formed their own professional soccer clubs. Maybe its time that communities funnel their youth into their very own professional clubs and not rely on their players to be “drafted.”

 

Orange County Soccer Club, 1960s (details scarce), Two-Time National Challenge Cup (Now US Open Cup) Finalist in 1966 and 1967. Played in a league called the Continental League. Played Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga at Santa Ana Stadium in 1966.

 

California Sunshine, 1977-81 (ASL), founded in Fountain Valley, CA, played at Chapman University in the City of Orange, and at Santa Ana Stadium.

 

California Surf1978-81 (NASL), played at Anaheim Stadium. The team was at one time owned by the Segerstrom Family, who are longtime Santa Ana and Costa Mesa landowners who developed South Coast Plaza. The Segerstroms recently sold 5 acres in Santa Ana to the San Diego Chargers, in case of their move to the LA market.

 

Orange County Zodiac, 1997-99 USISL A-League (Now USL). Played at UC Irvine then decided they wanted to play in Santa Ana, at Santa Ana Stadium. Placed at least one add in the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce’s publication, because that’s what most Santa Ana residents read back then (sarcasm).

 

Orange County Blue Star, 2001-12, USL Premier Development League, played at Concordia University in Irvine. Some World Cup winner and national team coach named Jürgen Klinsmann played for this club under the alias “Jay Göppingen.”

 

Santa Ana Winds FC, founded in 2006 in the So Cal Premier  League, then joined the National Premier Soccer League for one year in 2011, then became a founding member of the United Premier Soccer League. The team has struggled to get a home field for the duration of an entire season and has been playing its games at OC Great Park in Irvine, and at the Sports Park in Lake Forest, CA. In 2016 the club began scheduling games at Santa Ana College, and played two US Open Cup qualifying matches, a win vs La Habra City FC and a loss to La Máquina. The club plans to compete in the newly minted UPSL Pro League at Santa Ana Stadium in 2017.


OC Blues, USL, started as the LA Blues in the USL Pro league in 2010, played at Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton before moving to Anteater Stadium at UC Irvine. The word is they want to build a 5000 seat stadium at OC Great Park in Irvine.


Fullerton Rangers, 2012, named after the reputable soccer academy, played a US Open Cup game before folding after a short existence.

 

The UPSL
The United Premier Soccer League was founded in 2011 in Santa Ana, with a Los Angeles headquarter in Torrance. The UPSL’s Orange County teams typically use fields at Irvine’s OC Great Park, Las Lomas Community Park and the Lake Forest Sports Park. The league’s teams seldom use Santa Ana Stadium or Santa Ana College fields.

 

OC Crew competed in the Coast Soccer League prior to adding a team to the UPSL.

 

OC Stars began as Tustin Legends.

 

PSA Elite a surprise amateur club in the 2015 US Open Cup that advanced the farthest of all the non-professional teams.

 

La Máquina, borrows nickname and identity of Mexico’s Cruz Azul FC, will enter 2016 US Open Cup play in the Open Division round, after qualifying by crushing 2015 US Open Cup surprise team Chula Vista FC by a score of 4-0. La Máquina is also known as “FC Golden State Orange County,” and is described as a program of Irvine Premier Soccer. La Máquina also competes in the Coast Soccer League.

 

FC Expat, out of Huntington Beach with a solid youth academy.

 

Anaheim Legacy, founded in 2015, lists their home field 15 miles away in Downey, which explains their league alignment and schedule with LA County UPSL teams.

 

Irvine Outcasts, founded in 2013, nicknamed “The Flock,” appear to be comprised of UC Irvine players, are mostly active on Facebook and nearly non-existent on other social media.

Santa Ana Winds FC get a new logo… and?

The Santa Ana Winds Football (Soccer) Club, formerly of the National Premier Soccer League, have resurfaced with a much-improved, and sorely needed, team crest. But they still don’t have a home field in Santa Ana proper. Instead, this team plays some of its “home” games in Aliso Viejo. And the team still doesn’t have its online presence down. Their dot com is inoperable and there’s no Twitter account. It’s shameful. Why re-brand if you’re not going to set your brand to market? The point is to project it and have a presence, make a mark, get on the map, get on the radar.

Santa Ana is flooded with soccer leagues, seemingly all competing with each other for fields. Santa Ana’s Parks & Recreation Director Gerardo Mouet said that these leagues tend to fight over Santa Ana’s Soccer Complex at Centennial Park, for example.

Because of this lack of organized soccer leagues in Santa Ana, it makes it difficult to unite behind a common goal, one that ideally has a pro-level or semi-pro team representing the city. No, it doesn’t have to be a Major League Soccer club, but perhaps one in the NPSL or maybe even the NASL. The truth is, any better-organized club at whatever level bearing the city’s name is better than the scattered, bickering teams and unaffiliated amateur leagues that aren’t really thinking of forming behind a common Santa Ana name, which would only be good for the city’s projection and brand.

Santa Ana could have an elevated profile in competitive soccer if the field at Centennial were better utilized and marketed. There’s also the new field at Santa Ana College, which is available for rent. But there’s been no team, or business plan, that has effectively identified with, and led to cementing a semi-pro to professional level soccer team bearing Santa Ana’s name.

What we have instead is one giant squandered opportunity given all of the talent here combined with the lack of a team with the inability to capture the Santa Ana soccer market.