2023 US Open Cup Qualifying: UDA Soccer First Local College Affiliate to Qualify After Wild Shootout
Reposted from TheCup.us
UDA Soccer came out on top of an epic battle of wills, toppling US Open Cup mainstays Azteca FC 4-1 from the penalty mark after trading walloping blows in a 4-4 slugfest.
Keane Garcia pulled UDA level at four in the 113th minute from inside the six-yard box sending the game to kicks from the mark. But the hero of the match was 19-year-old UDA goalkeeper, Mario Castillo, who saved the first (twice) and third of Azteca’s spot kicks to put UDA Soccer through to the tournament proper in its first qualifying attempt.
“I am so proud of the guys for battling through all the adversity they faced today, between the travel and the cold and the altitude and then going down a man, they did not give up, they kept coming back, they kept fighting,” said UDA head coach Blake Ordell. “Then for Mario to make the saves he did in the shootout, it was incredible.”
With the win, UDA Socccer makes some modern US Open Cup history. UDA is a soccer academy at New Mexico State University that allows players to receive year-round training while enrolled at New Mexico State. They become the first Open Division Local team affiliated with a college or university to qualify for the Open Cup in the Modern Era (1995-present). Brigham Young University (BYU) qualified three times as a member of the Premier Development League (now USL League Two) in 2006, 2007 and 2015. Despite past attempts by teams from the University of Florida, Oklahoma University, Louisiana Lafayette, and this year with the University of Southern California (USC), no college-affiliated team has qualified through Open Division Local qualifying.
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Despite the unfavorable conditions for the Las Cruces, New Mexico-based UPSL side, and the host’s Open Cup pedigree, having qualified for the tournament proper in 2017, 2018, and 2022, UDA Soccer came out on the front foot, forcing Azteca goalkeeper Gerardo Agular to save brilliantly to his right just four minutes into the match.
Ten minutes later UDA landed the first punch of the day when Jose Luis Puente Rivas spun his defender and played the ball across the top of the six-yard box finding Alan Mose Gudino for an easy tap-in past a helpless Agular.
The lead didn’t last long. Azteca pulled level in the 20th minute when Oscar Montoya tapped Jovany Herrera’s driven cross from just outside the six-yard box.
Azteca took the lead in the 36th minute when Herrera ran onto a ball in the penalty area played by Freddy Fregozo, slotting home his fifth 2023 Open Cup qualifying goal.
UDA clawed back to level just before the halftime whistle when Daniel Ruiz Galan got on the end of a Lucas Burch cross ten yards from the goal as the three minutes of added time expired.
Azteca took the lead in the 63rd minute off a Samual Hallam spot kick after UDA’s Mattias Cavallo was whistled for a tackle at the edge of the penalty area. Hallam calmly slotted the ball to his right past Castillo.
The penalty call, heavily protested by the UDA bench, led to the dismissal of an assistant coach, followed twenty minutes later by the dismissal of captain Eric Gomez-Silva, who was shown his second yellow card of the match, forcing UDA to play a man down for the remainder.
UDA fought back six minutes after going down a man, drawing level at three in the 82nd minute when Alfredo Villescas got on the end of Gudina’s corner, outjumping his marker to put the ball past a stranded Gerardo sending the game to extra time.
Azteca took the lead again in the 107th minute off a spectacular volley from Anthony Miranda after UDA failed to properly clear a corner kick. Azteca recycled the set piece out to Saul Garcia on the left flank whose weighted cross fell into Miranda’s stride.
“We put another forward up top after their fourth goal,” Ordell said. “All we could do was get as many people forward and hope for something.”
That something came when Azteca failed to clear the ball from inside the six-yard box. Garcia slammed the ball home to send the game to kicks.
“Oh man, I just couldn’t believe it when I saw the ball pop out there like that,” Garcia said. “I just hit it as hard as I could. I didn’t want anything to stop it.”
UDA’s Garcia made his attempt. Then Castillo saved Herrera’s attempt to the left, but it was ruled he had left his line early. He then saved Herrera’s second attempt, this time to his right. UDA’s Blake Bastian made his attempt to the right, followed by Azteca’s Miranda.
UDA’s Villescas then made his attempt to the left, followed by Azteca’s Hallam, who had scored from the penalty spot earlier in the match. This time Castillo was up to the task against Hallam, going correctly to his right, leaving it up to Gudina, who calmly put the ball down the middle of the goal to put UDA through to the tournament proper.
Miami, Florida – The United Premier Soccer League is proud to announce the inaugural UPSL Champions Cup set to take place in Querétaro, Mexico on November 3 – 6. With teams from both the U.S. and Mexico competing, the tournament will be the first of its kind at the semi-pro level in North America.
The UPSL Champions Cup features four of the best UPSL teams competing against four of the best UPSL MX teams. The eight teams will be divided into two groups with each group including two teams from Mexico and two teams from the US. The winners of each group will face off in the tournament final to be held on Sunday, November 6th.
UPSL Founder and President, Leonel Lopez explains “The UPSL has a long history of players, coaches and owners with Mexican origins. It has always been a goal of the UPSL to expand further into Mexico and provide additional opportunities for players competing in Latin America. In addition to the launch of UPSL MX in 2020, the UPSL Champions Cup will help build this bridge and create an international platform for these athletes to compete on. The clubs in Mexico are very well-organized and have been playing at a very high level, the Champions Cup will provide a unique opportunity for them.”
Graphics created by UPSL
Representing the United States:
The tournament will feature 2021 UPSL Fall Season National Champions Foro 360 from Dallas, Texas as well newly-crowned UPSL MX National Champions, Deportivo Teziutlan from Teziutlan, Puebla.
Foro Sports Club owner, Bob Peinado explains the anticipation surrounding the first-ever Champions Cup event. “It’s great opportunity for our talented young players and is in line with our goal of developing top-level pros. What the UPSL is doing is providing an opportunity for teams at this level to not just compete for a national title, but for the first-time ever, play for an international title as well. With many of our staff and players of Mexican-descent, including myself, the Champions Cup provides a special opportunity for a lot of these first and second generation Mexican-Americans. It legitimizes the hard work we do over in the States and a meaningful experience to come down and compete against these top teams in Mexico.”
UPSL MX provides a highly competitive platform for soccer clubs seeking an alternative to the current lower-tier structure in Mexico. This past season 40 clubs competed across two divisions. The UPSL MX operates under the umbrella of the UPSL brand, and is led by UPSL MX Commissioner Israel Valenciano.
Commissioner Israel Valenciano explains “It is a great honor to have a tournament of this level in Mexico. We welcome everyone with open arms and great anticipation for this inaugural Champions Cup event. We can’t wait to see who will be crowned the first-ever UPSL Champions Cup winners.
The first match-day of the Champions Cup is scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd. Three days later, on Sunday, November 6th, the Champions Cup Final will be played. Games will be broadcasted live with commentary in both English and Spanish through VYRE Network. You can find VYRE on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Android, iPhone, or your Smart TV by downloading the VYRE Network app for free or on their website at www.vyre.tv.
About the UPSL
The UPSL was formed in 2011 and occupies the unofficial fourth tier of US Soccer. Across its Premier, Division 1 and Womens leagues there are more than 400 teams competing nationwide. The UPSL is now the largest Pro Development League in North America and is a National Affiliate member of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated. UPSL teams are eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the league’s affiliation with USSF.
More information about UPSL can be found at www.upsl.com or by following the league on Facebook (facebook.com/upslsoccer), Instagram (@upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer). Contact UPSL: email@example.com / Media: firstname.lastname@example.org
UDA NMSU Goalie Goes Pro
For UDA NMSU Goalie, JD Meyers, his dreams are now in reach. This week the all-star goalie who lead the NMSU team to the UPSL Elite Eight Tournament signed his first professional contract with the Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club in Tennessee.
"I moved out to Tennessee the same day I signed on August 17th. Everything happened so fast" Meyers stated.
"UDA and Coach Tahlon helped prepare me for the next level by providing great opportunities that I was able to take advantage of. I felt that I was constantly supported and pushed in my pursuit of becoming a professional footballer and was setup to be a leader of the NMSU program. Due to this I was able to find success reaching the next level" Meyers continued.
To keep up with JD and his new squad, view the Red Wolves' schedule.
UDA NMSU Soccer Makes a national name for themselves
So far in the program's history, the NMSU team has made it one step farther in their season every year. Coach Drake claims that it all comes back to having goals and starting the season with intentionality. "At the beginning of every season, the boys and I sit down and set TEAM goals. In the last two seasons in the UPSL, the team has progressed one game further. For example in the Spring of 2021 (Season 1) the boys lost in the first round of playoffs, while in the Fall of 2021 (Season 2) the boys lost in the Championship match of the Arizona Division. This past season, the boys set a team goal of reaching the round of 32 and getting one game better every year. [This season] I was expecting the student-athletes to improve one step at a time through experience and hard work."
As the season progressed, success came with it but so did the growth of the players. One of the biggest changes seen among the team was culture, taking ownership, and coming together as a family. "The biggest improvement I have seen within this group is a sense of belief within the team, the 'we versus me' mentality, and the boys attitude to fight for each other on and off the field" Drake stated.
In addition to the success of the season, the NMSU team gained a brand new home field on campus "[With] a field to call their own, the boys feel like they have a sense of belonging now" Drake continued. The team certainly leaned on home-field advantage by never dropping a game on their new pitch.
The NMSU team's success wouldn't have been as sweet without a community of encouragement, "The support from the UDA families has been amazing! Traveling from all over the country and some families from outside the country, we couldn't ask for a better group of parents to cheer on the team!" Drake said. Outside of the UDA families' continued support, the local community has helped spread the word about supporting the NMSU squad.
As we reflect on this past season, we can't help but get excited for what's to come this fall and the chance to welcome in a new group of players and their families. "As Coaches, we're so looking forward to welcoming the incoming class of student-athletes. Coach Blake and I are excited about what we feel this group can be in the coming years. With all that being said, we can't wait to create relationships and help these young men achieve success on and off the field." Stated Drake.
Three years after forming at New Mexico State University, the men’s University Degrees Abroad soccer academy program finally has a dedicated practice and playing field on NMSU’s Las Cruces campus – a major milestone for the players, coaches and support staff.
Blake Ordell, center, associate technical director and co-head coach for the men’s University Degrees Abroad soccer academy program at New Mexico State University, speaks to the team during a recent practice. The team will unveil its new field Saturday, May 14, during a ribbon-cutting event. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)
“To be honest, it feels like we’re now legitimate collegiate soccer program,” said Jeff Thompson, UDA program director.
To celebrate the new soccer pitch – located on the lower deck of NMSU’s intramural fields – UDA will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, May 14. The event, which is free and open to the public, will also include youth activities, food trucks, a 50-50 raffle and a match between UDA and El Paso’s Sun City AFC.
“Having a pitch like this means everything to the team,” UDA head coach Tahlon Drake said. “It’s about pride, passion, playing for your heart, playing for your club – and everything comes down to the field.”
The team worked with NMSU’s Facilities and Services, an outside contractor and a turfgrass expert at NMSU to transform what was once an unremarkable open field into a pristine soccer pitch that closely meets professional standards.
The project started in November 2020 and included a complete overhaul of the irrigation system. When it came time to select and plant grass, the team sought help from Bernd Leinauer, Regents professor and Extension turfgrass specialist from NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
“When problems started to pop up, Dr. Leinauer and others from turfgrass management were brought in to help solve the issues,” Thompson said. “It took us almost three months to eradicate all of the weeds in the soil. After that, we stripped the area, added a nice layer of sand and put in the sod, which came from a local sod farm.”
To complete the project, crews installed fencing around the perimeter of the field.
“It’s more like a true football pitch – we’re 75 yards wide, 110 yards long,” Thompson said.
Before having its own field at NMSU, UDA practiced and played in several locations. Now that the team has a “home,” Thompson hopes it’ll be easier for the NMSU and Las Cruces communities to support the team.
The men’s University Degrees Abroad soccer academy program at New Mexico State University has 30 players, all of whom are seeking degrees at NMSU or Doña Ana Community College. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)
“We want soccer fans from NMSU, Las Cruces and beyond to come out to our new pitch and experience what UDA is all about, starting with our ribbon-cutting event,” he said.
The festivities will start at 2 p.m. with youth activities. The ribbon-cutting will take place at 3:30 p.m., and the match against Sun City AFC will kick off at 4 p.m.
Free parking will be available at Rentfrow Hall. Visitors should bring chairs and blankets.
“Las Cruces is a big soccer community, and now is the time to support our team,” said Blake Ordell, UDA associate technical director and co-head coach.
NMSU and UDA teamed up in 2019 to create a developmental men’s soccer program. The program – UDA’s first in the U.S. – has 30 students, all of whom are seeking degrees at NMSU or Doña Ana Community College.
UDA’s mission is to provide student-athletes with an internationally recognized university degree, a developmental soccer experience and an opportunity for multiple pathways in their chosen career within a fully integrated university experience.
“The addition of men’s club soccer at NMSU is a wonderful opportunity for students who wish to continue playing soccer while attending NMSU,” said Renay Scott, vice president of Student Success.
UDA will continue to play matches through June. For a schedule, visit https://www.udaus.org.
Don't miss our opening match on the new pitch at NMSU on May 14th vs Sun City AFC (UPSL)! Kickoff at 4:00 pm.
Opening Day Festivities begin at 2:00 pm including:
We offer a range of different opportunities for students because we know one-size doesn't fit all, so why should a university experience?
It is well documented that presently, US collegiate soccer with its limited season and oversized rosters means little true development opportunities for many talented players, restricting student’s optimal development.
Across all our Academies, our goals remains the same, to provide the world's best integration of university education and football experience so students can reach their potential in the classroom and on the field.
On both sides of the pond, our Academy locations allow every student the opportunity to study, live, and thrive.
HERE'S A BREAKDOWN OF EACH UNIVERSITY
As well as what you can expect, to help you determine if this is a good fit for you.
THE UNIVERSITY OF Chester
The University of Chester is home to 20,000 students from 130 different countries, with over 300 courses offered across 30 programs. While studying in the UK you will be able to earn your undergraduate degree in just three years. Most undergraduate degrees include a five-week work placement in your second year anywhere in the world!
The University of Chester aims to support and develop global citizens. Offering over 300 degree options across three specialized campuses, UoC has academic opportunities for everyone. Focusing on quality, most degree programs take a duration of three years to complete. In addition to its unique culture, Chester prides itself on offering a variety of student support options. From advice to personal guidance, the University wants all students to have a memorable experience during their course of study.
NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
The UDA-US Academy follows the success and demand of the UDA-UK Academies located in Chester and Gloucestershire, England. The UDA-US Academy is open to students from around the world seeking to further their soccer development through multiple pathways, while studying at NMSU.
Even with a lot of great options, determining what may be a good fit for you isn't always easy. Know that you don't have to do any of this alone. We strongly encourage you to reach out with any burning questions.
If you're interested in any particular academy, the best way to learn more is to attend a recruitment event. If you're unable to attend in-person, we recommend signing up for an online information session where we will answer all of your burning questions about a UDA Academy.
If a UK Academy specifically interests you, we recommend checking out the degree courses offered at Chester and Gloucestershire to get an understanding of what program might be the best fit for you.
WE'RE AS SERIOUS ABOUT YOUR FUTURE AS YOU ARE
Four students from the UDA Academy at New Mexico State, Nate Stewart, Joaquin Villescas, Matteo Cavallo, and Kean Garcia spent their spring break visiting the University of Gloucestershire campus, training, and playing with the UDA UoG Academy students this past week.
During their visit, the students played at the local professional stadium, Gloucester City AFC as part of a UDA showcase event.
The NMSU students also had the opportunity to play against the University of Gloucestershire first team, train with the UDA coaching staff, and watched a local professional game at Cheltenham Town.
Watch Matteio Garcia's goal in the 3-1 win against a Gloucester City AFC squad
To top off the visit, the NMSU students visited London while two others attended the West Ham versus Aston Villa game at the Olympic Stadium.
"I really enjoyed experiencing a day-to-day life as a UDA UoG student-athlete" stated Matteo Cavallo.
Head of the UDA UOG Academy, Dave Nicholos, complemented the students from the NMSU Academy stating, “The students were top class in all respects. They were on time, courteous, hard working, and were excellent throughout the trip. A credit to the coaching staff at New Mexico and the UDA organization.”
In an ongoing effort to widen and broaden experiences and opportunities for students, we look forward to continuing to provide training and playing opportunities, for selected students both in the UK and USA.
UDA holds several national recruitment events at NMSU that run Friday to Sunday for prospects wanting to meet the NMSU admissions office, take a campus tour, meet UDA coaching staff and spend the weekend training and playing. Prospects are invited to attend all or parts of the weekend that their schedule permits.
Current UDA@NMSU Technical Director and Head Coach Tahlon Drake has announced that UDA@NMSU has hired Blake Ordell as Associate Technical Director/Head Coach. Ordell will join UDA@NMSU in Las Cruces on February 1st.
Ordell played professional soccer for nine years throughout the United States, Sweden, and Canada and has coached collegiately for eleven years. He previously served as head men’s and women’s soccer coach at Lincoln Trail College, head men’s and women’s soccer coach at Sheridan College, head men’s soccer coach at Culver-Stockton College, an
assistant men’s soccer coach at Quincy University, and assistant men’s and women’s soccer coach at MacMurray College.
Ordell was the head men’s soccer coach at Culver-Stockton College of the NAIA for 7 years. In his second season as head coach in 2014, Ordell led the Wildcats to the postseason for the first time since 1999 and the Wildcats advanced to the championship game of the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament. They advanced to the playoffs 5 consecutive years in a row.
C-SC broke a school record for victories in 2014, garnering an 11-9-1 overall record. During his tenure, the season and career shutout record was broken along with the season and career goal-scoring record. After seven seasons with the Wildcats, Ordell holds the best winning percentage all-time. In seven seasons, Ordell coached 14 players who had been named to the All-HAAC team, including Kevin Urbeck, who was a first-team selection in 2014, and Alejandro Mentasti who was an All-American in 2016. Urbeck and Mentasti also earned All-Midwest Region second-team accolades from the NSCAA. In addition, 33 players had been named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes during Ordell's tenure, and in 2015, Dominic Caruso was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® College Division Men's Soccer First Team.
Prior to coaching, Ordell was the director/owner of 'SC’ Ordell Soccer Academy in Detroit, Mich. As the director of coaching/owner, Ordell produced and implemented practice sessions, generated clientele, and created a budget for the facilities while organizing the finances of the company.
Ordell is a graduate of Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA, where he played soccer and was a member of the Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC) All-Conference team all four years, including first-team honors his junior and senior seasons. He was named the team's most valuable player his senior year. While in college, Ordell studied in England and played soccer at the University of Central Lancashire. He helped lead the team to the tournament final 16 in the United Kingdom.
Ordell played professional soccer for nine years throughout the US, Canada, and Sweden. These teams include the St. Louis Ambush, Cedar Rapids Rampage, Edsbyns IF, Wichita B52’s, Illinois Piasa, Detroit Waza Flo-Pro, Cincinnati Kings, Toronto Italia, and the Windsor Border Stars. After a strong season with Detroit, he was invited to play with the U.S. National Arena Team where he played against Peru and Mexico.
Ordell, who has a master's degree in Management and Sports Management, has also achieved his United States Soccer Federation B License and United Soccer Coaches Premier Diploma and is currently working to achieve his USSF A License. He is married to Amanda Ordell.
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