2013 U.S. Open Cup: Sounders U-23 face California's Doxa Italia

Youth team takes on talented amateur side in Sumner on Tuesday night.

If you have a chance to make it to Sumner on Tuesday you can catch early-round U.S. Open Cup action featuring the Sounders U-23 side.

The team will host Doxa Italia, an amateur side that owns Southern California, finishing 16-0-0 in the Coast Soccer League this season. Doxa features several players who were prominent in college and a couple who have featured in brief MLS and MLS reserve spells. The team's leader is Bryan Byrne, a big-scoring forward (28 goals in 17 games) who played in the Open Cup in 2007 for New England Revolution. Learn more about Doxa on their website.

The Sounders youngsters don't have a ton of time together yet this year. They will have their work cut out for them.

Tickets for the match are just $10. Kick off is at 7 p.m. at Sunset Stadium in Sumner.

Here's the full preview from the Sounders front office:

TACOMA, Wash. – The Sounders U-23 will take on Coast Soccer League champions, Doxa Italia, in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The match is set for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14th at Sunset Stadium in Sumner, Washington.

This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides and both are coming off of previous season successes. The Sounders U-23 were Premier Development League - Northwest Division regular season champions a year ago, and advanced all the way to the PDL National Final Four as Western Conference champions. Doxa Italia completed a perfect 16-0-0 season on their way to capturing the CSL Premier Division championship, and they will play for the CSL Cup title later this summer.

Doxa Italia is a formidable Southern California soccer club with a history of success inside and outside of California. They’ve won the CSL Premier Division league title five out of the last nine years, were USASA National Amateur Cup runners up in 2011, and that same year, Doxa made their first appearance in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“Our previous experience in the U.S. Open Cup will certainly help us in our approach for this game,” said Doxa Italia midfielder/forward, Kyle Holland. “The Doxa Italia team that participated in the U.S. Open Cup in 2011 was comprised of a group that did not consistently play matches and train together the same way that this 2012/2013 team has.”

The Sounders U-23 defense will have to be aware of the Doxa Italia goal scorers at all times. Doxa Italia scorched their opponents averaging over four-and-a-half goals per game (74 total), while allowing only 12 into their own net for the season. Leading all goal scorers was forward and team manager Bryan Byrne with 28 goals and 13 assists in 17 games. The offensive prowess comes as no surprise considering the level of experience present on the Doxa Italia side.

“The personality of this group is simple. Each player at one point or another in their career has played soccer at an elite level. So the competitiveness is always present at training and in games,” Holland said. “Most of us have played together for long enough to know one another’s strengths and weaknesses and not a single player is shy about calling another out if they aren’t providing what is needed for the team to be successful that day.”

Doxa Italia’s opposition, the Sounders U-23 are in their first US Open Cup. Head Coach and General Manager, Darren Sawatzky, has reassembled his young team, and is looking to add onto the success they achieved in their inaugural season last summer. Winning the 2012 PDL Northwest Division title earned the Sounders U-23 their first ever birth into this tournament.

Darren Sawatzky, said, “Qualifying for the Open Cup was a goal last year and the young players are excited to test their level against former professional players that compete in a very good league. Different than a team that plays and trains together regularly throughout the year, we field our group of academy players and top college players looking to get to that next level for a couple months. It will be a very good learning game for these players.”

The opening round match comes just ahead of the start of the 2013 PDL season for the Sounders U-23. Including Tuesday’s match, the Sounders U-23 will play three games in six days as they take to the road for their first two league matches. On Thursday, May 16th, they open league play at JELD-WEN field against last year’s runners up Portland Timbers U-23. Then the Sounders U-23 will travel north of the border to take on the Victoria Highlanders FC on Sunday, May 19th.

The 2013 version of the Sounders U-23 will include some familiar faces, as well as plenty of new talent. Several of last year’s standouts have moved on to play in the MLS; such as defender Anthony Arena, goal keeper Doug Herrick, and current Sounders FC starter and U-20 U.S. National Team player DeAndre Yedlin, while others have moved on to other opportunities.

So far this year, the Sounders U-23, comprised mostly of trialists, went 1-0-1 in pre-season exhibition matches playing Bellingham United FC to a 0-0 draw, and defeating Seattle University 1-0. This first round match-up against a strong Doxa Italia team will allow the coaching staff an opportunity to evaluate the team in their first competitive match of the season.

“We play to win always so we look forward to the competitive nature Doxa Italia represents,” said Sawatzky. “Tuesday will be an exciting game for the fans.”

The winner of Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match will advance to face USL PRO team Charlotte Eagles at Queens University of Charlotte Sports Complex on May 21st. The loser is out of the single elimination style tournament.

For all Sounders U-23 information including roster signings, schedules, ticket information and more, visit SoundersU23.com, follow us on Twitter: @SoundersU23, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

U.S. Open Cup - Sounders U-23 vs Doxa Italia

Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM

Sunset Stadium
1707 Main Street
Sumner, WA 98390

Website:
soundersU23.com

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