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US Open Cup Preview (1st Round): Commodores, Dayton Dutch Lions eye prize of facing Hounds again

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup 1st Round: Erie Commodores (NPSL) vs Dayton Dutch Lions (USL League Two)

winner advances to take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in 2nd Round

Match Detail:

McConnell Family Stadium – Gannon University | 7 p.m.

Streaming:  ESPN+ 

PSN Coverage/Updates: on Twitter  #USOC2019, @pghsoccerscribe  @DaytonDutchLion @Erie_Commodores

For Full U.S. Open Cup coverage visit:

The Erie Commodores of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) are pretty juiced about returning to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup — as they’ll kickoff with a first-round match against the Dayton Dutch Lions.

”US Open cup is an excellent competition and it’s great to be a part of it. It comes around too soon for us as players are still arriving from finals and finishing up college,” Head Coach Dale White said.

This will be the Commodores’ second voyage in as many years as part of the long-running competition. With the lure of competition in the next round against a professional side, the stakes are at an all-time high for the young “Ship” side.

“The prize of hosting the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and bringing a game like that to Erie is too good an opportunity to pass up. Dayton are going to be a tough opposition and given our first training session is on the day of the game there is a lot against us. But, we do have a good balance between experience, ability and speed, and certainly have enough quality and talent to do some damage.”

‘The Ship’ were founded in 2009, and have grown in 10 years as a strong NPSL club — as NPSL’s 2009 National Runner-Up, 2011 National Third Place, 2013 National Semi-Finalists.  Last season was its first-ever appearance in the Open Cup and they made a pretty good first impression, winning its first-round match against Rochester Lancers.

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Even in defeat, in the second round against the Hounds, the Commodores showed they won’t be an easy team to beat.

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The Commodores earned their way into the field this year by lifting the NPSL Midwest Region East Conference title last Summer, providing them with automatic qualification into the 106th edition of the US Open Cup — the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the U.S. consisting of 97 teams.

White expressed both quiet confidence and a sense of excitement that fuels most fourth division and amateur squads that enter the first round of the proper tournament.

“It is something myself and the boys can’t wait to get our teeth into,” White said.  “With it being our second venture in the competition it’s an exciting time for the club and the city of Erie.”

With a potential second round match-up hosting the Riverhounds SC on the line. The Commodores are keen for another run in Open Cup competition that will help showcase the talent of this side on a National Stage — and help gain more recognition to develop the Commodores brand and help strengthen the already large soccer community in Erie County.

The Commodores take a unique approach toward building its roster, scoping mostly across the collegiate soccer landscape to identify mostly international student-athletes that are looking for high-level playing opportunities in the United States.  The organization provides housing opportunities, and build a roster with lots of foreign flair.

Indeed, scanning the Commodores’ roster, you will find many players from multiple continents and countries, including Brazil, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Lesotho, Canada, Paraguay, Mexico and France.

Two players White has to be glad to have back — who each stood out in last year’s Open Cup run in matches against Rochester and the Riverhounds — are Ashley Phillips, who captained last year’s squad and goalkeeper Nicolau Neto.

There are many current and recent college players who will battle for playing time, and White appears to have a pretty strong midfield to build upon. One of those midfielders to keep an eye out for will be Rodrigo Parades. The Paraguayan midfielder was a key player for Central Methodist University’s National Championship winning squad, where he won MVP of the championships, and earned All-Tournament team, and All-Conference honors.  In addition, Scottish midfielder Craig Quinn returns after earning all conference, all region and voted as the Commodores players’ Player of the Season in 2018.

Erie has a few local players from Western PA including Matthew Dziadosz, who was a standout at Kiski Area, and Chris Ralph, a goalkeeper from Murrysville (Franklin Regional). Both played at nearby Penn State Behrend, which made a historical run in the NCAA tournament last Fall.  Ralph earned all region and all-American honors.

The Commodores felt they could have pulled out the win in last year’s second round against the pro side, as even club officials felt the need to include a line about last year’s match in some of this year’s media notes: “a dodgy penalty being the deciding factor in a tightly contested match up.”

First things first though for the Commodores as must beat a club that was once a league foe of the Riverhounds.

The Dayton Dutch Lions. also founded in 2009, were part of the USL Pro (now USL Championship) from the start of the league’s modern era in 2011 through 2014.

Some of the Dutch Lions club’s most glorious moments came during this time, but now they’re building on this after a turnaround season in 2018, and first U.S. Open Cup appearance since 2014.

In 2012, the Lions had an impressive run in the Open Cup, reaching the Quarterfinals after defeating MLS’ Columbus Crew 2–1 in the third round. The Lions were eventually knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals by eventual champions Sporting Kansas City 3–0 in front of an away record 15,167 fans.

In 2013, the Lions reached the USL Pro Playoffs for the first time with a record of 10 Wins, 7 Ties and 9 Losses. They lost to the Richmond Kickers 1–0 in the quarter-finals. Gibson Bardsley received Second Team All-League Honors with 9 goals and 7 assists

After its last season in USL Pro in 2014, the DDL dropped into the USL’s Fourth Division league, formally the PDL, and now USL League Two, where after a number of mediocre seasons — they had a very successful 2018, including winning the Great Lakes Conference championship which earned them a spot in this year’s U.S. Open Cup.

Dayton Head Coach Dan Griest is looking forward to building upon last year’s success starting in the Open Cup.

“I am optimistic we can win a match or two and begin to turn some heads on the national stage,” Griest said. “I believe the talent is here to not only make a noticeable run in the US Open Cup, and repeat as Great Lakes Division Champions, but win a Midwestern title and challenge for a national crown.”

In an interview in February, Griest spoke about this year’s edition of the Dutch Lions will play ‘quick and tenacious attacking style of soccer’ with a roster made up of a lot of players from local programs at Wright State University and University of Dayton.

The Great Lakes champions were led by midfielder Tate Robertson (who was named USL PDL National Player of the Week) and forward J.J. Williams who was drafted by Columbus Crew, and is now playing on loan with the Birmingham Legion in USL Championship, where he recently scored two goals in his lone appearance.

The Commodores will have to be focused on shutting down Robertson in the midfield, who returns to the Dutch Lions this season after a stellar career at Bowling Green University, where he posted four goals and 11 assists in his senior campaign.

As is the case many times in Open Cup early rounds, both sides will have to deal with having been together for only a short period of time and limited preparation time for this match.

“This is a huge opportunity that our US Open Cup position creates for this summer (one of only 10 in all of USL 2),” Giest explained. “I believe we are bringing in players who want to be here and fight for the city, who want to push themselves and those around them to get better.”

“It’s hard to communicate the personality of the team without being together for at least a few weeks,” White said.  “The key to succeeding on our end will be preparation, organization. We will work to keep them predictable and I’m confident we will create chances.”

Two championship clubs from a year ago should really provide for a classic first-round nail biter along the shores of Lake Erie.

Let the madness begin!

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John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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