No teams in the USL had a bye this week, and nearly all of them were in action in the US Open Cup, but the biggest news of all came off the field: USL President Jake Edwards is stepping away as the president of the organization.
Edwards took over in 2015 when the USL had one professional league under its umbrella, and that league only had 16 independent teams. Now, the USL boasts 36 professional clubs across two divisions and is set to launch a women’s league. There’s a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players, and USL teams regularly sell players abroad for six-digit sums. Edwards is quietly one of the most influential people in American soccer’s recent growth.
With that said, let’s get down into the nitty gritty of the week that was.
1. Sacramento (No change)
Result: D 1-1 at Tulsa
After beating Oakland in a Northern California derby in the Open Cup, the Republic rotated their lineup, with industrious midfielder Nick Ross unexpectedly playing on the left wing in Oklahoma. Something was off in the Sacramento press, and they allowed Tulsa too much time to pick out passes and let runs develop up the pitch. Meanwhile, a decision to sit off defensive midfielder Arnold Lopez and dare him to break the host’s lines led to stasis going the other way.
Things changed in the second half when Russell Cicerone, a top-three goal scorer this year, checked in. Cicerone demands the attention of opposing defenses, and he was much more active than Ross by making clever runs towards the sideline and into the channels. Tulsa began to track him tightly, allowing for a clean ball between two defenders that broke the deadlock after 54 minutes – the space only existed because of Cicerone's probing movement.
While an offensive change into a 4-2-3-1 gave the hosts enough juice to equalize, breaking a 500+ minute shutout streak by the Republic, this was still a positive result in context. Going on the road with a rotated lineup against a well-rested foe is never a bad thing.