The Croatian Eagles Majors team and the club's Under-23 side learned their potential paths back to the U.S. Adult Soccer Association nationals as the schedule for next weekend's Region II tournament in Overland Park, Kan., was announced.
In the Amateur Cup, the Croatian Eagles will play Kansas' Emporia and Minnesota's Cardinals in pool play. The three group winners will advance to the regional semifinals along with the best second-place finisher.
"We should be able to win our group and after that who knows," said Croatian Eagles coach Alex Toth, whose team won the National Open Cup last year but were ousted from that tournament in the first round of regionals by rival RWB Adria from Illinois this year.
With five teams in the Under-23 division, teams will play a round-robin to determine the regional champion.
The Croatians will see two familiar foes: Illinois' GLSA 74, the team they beat 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw in last year's regional final, and Kentucky's Louisville SA, which scored two late goals to beat the Croatians 3-2 and keep the Franklin club from advancing out of group play in 2010. Last year, the Eagles were the national runners-up.
Toth said the Croatians have bolstered their roster for the tournament, adding midfielder-forward Edison Crespo (Milwaukee Hamilton/UW-Milwaukee) – normally on the Majors team – along with forward Andy Huftalin (Marquette) and UW midfielder Joey Tennyson (Menomonee Falls) in recent weeks.
"I think we're a little bit better than we were last year," said Toth, who also is coaching the younger team along with Scott Suprise. The team once again is playing in the Illinois State Soccer Association Under-23 league; another Croatians team is playing in the Wisconsin Soccer Leagues Under-23 league.
Regional champions advance to the USASA nationals from July 19 to 21 in San Antonio.
June 28: Emporia (Kan.), 7 p.m.
June 29: Cardinals (Minn.), 11:30 a.m.
June 30: Semifinals, 8 a.m.
June 30: Championship, noon
June 28: Ann Arbor FC (Mich.), 8:30 p.m.
June 29: GLSA 74 (Ill.), 2 p.m.
June 29: Louisville SA (Kent.), 4:30 p.m.
June 30: Illinois FC, 10 a.m.
Marquette defenders Paul Dillon and Axel Sjoberg combined for the first goal in Thunder Bay Chill's 2-0 victory over the host Des Moines Menace on Friday, with Sjoberg scoring in the 32nd minute.
The FC Wisconsin Nationals' Under-23 team – not to be confused with FC Wisconsin Eclipse – is the only state side scheduled to play in the inaugural event next week in Overland Park, Kan.
They are in Bracket B along with Woodbury SC (Minn.) and Louisiana State Select in the Under-23 competition, which is June 28 to 30.
The Des Moines Menace and Kansas City Shock, who play in the Women's Premier Soccer League Midwest Division along with the Madison 56ers, will play in the four-team Open competition from June 25 to 27.
Laval Comets and UW goalkeeper Genevieve Richard was named to the W-League Team of the Week for the second time this season after posting a shutout in a 1-0 win at Ottawa and making six saves in a 2-1 victory at Quebec City Amiral. Richard leads the league with a 0.428 goals-against average and is second with four shutouts.
FC Wisconsin Eclipse (1-0-1) topped Sockers FC Chicago 2-1 on Friday at the FC Milwaukee Complex in Germantown and were scheduled to play at sister club Eclipse Select on Wednesday afternoon in Oak Brook, Ill.