Bird’s Blog: What we can learn from Cal FCJune 9th, 2012 by Liviu Bird
(Sorry for my lengthy absence. School is drawing to a close, and with that comes all the drama of making sure I’m set to graduate next week. As always, if you desperately need to read something I write, you can follow me on Twitter.)
When we lost to Cal FC in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup, we were a little more than disappointed to get bounced out of the tournament by an amateur team. Watching that team beat the Portland Timbers threw that disappointment into a little bit of a different perspective. It still burns, but it’s nice to see an amateur team shaking up the tournament early on.
As a soccer country — to the extent that the U.S. is one of those — we learned a few lessons from watching Cal FC’s run. Here are three:
• That could have been the Kitsap Pumas. Selfishly, this is why Cal FC’s run was painful to watch. Had we figured out how to get past them, we could have been the team that knocked out a USL team and an MLS team. This is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but it’s relevant to the team and its fans nonetheless.
• MLS teams need to step up their Open Cup game. You can’t say Portland wasn’t trying to win its game against Cal FC. Based on injuries and other availability issues, the Timbers put out a full-strength lineup. However, regardless of how serious Portland may have taken that game, it’s obvious that the tournament just isn’t that important to a lot of teams. The players on the field may catch some of that league-wide general feeling and end up playing poorly because they just don’t care. One team that does take the Open Cup seriously is Seattle, which put an end to Cal FC’s run last week. The Sounders have their fourth Cup title firmly in their sights.
• The difference between the lowest and highest levels of U.S. soccer isn’t that large. This is the most contentious point I’ll make, and it’s certainly not true for every player toiling in the U.S. Adult Soccer Association, PDL or USL, but the difference between players who make a living playing soccer and those who do it for fun (or peanuts) is sometimes minimal. Looking at the Cal FC squad, forward Artur Aghasyan played with Real Salt Lake for a short time last year. Closer to home, Bryan Meredith now starts in goal for the Sounders after being with Kitsap last year. There are plenty of other players in the PDL Northwest Division who could do just fine in MLS.
Did Cal FC’s success mean anything to you as fans? What key points did I not touch on here?
Tags: Liviu Bird