Wynalda's Cal FC boys fall through cracks

[MEET THE TEAM] Eric Wynalda's Cal FC is the sensation of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a hastily assembled team from a small ethnic league in Ventura County near Los Angeles.

It has already beat the 2011 PDL champion Kitsap Pumas, USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads and in the biggest upset in the history of the Open Cup MLS's Portland Timbers.

Next up are the three-time champion Seattle Sounders whom they meet in the fourth round on Tuesday.

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid says Cal FC is anything but a Sunday morning pub team. Indeed, all Wynalda's young players have either played pro ball or harbor pro ambitions.

They are players Wynalda says are "yeahbuts," players who have for one reason or another have fallen through the cracks.

For a look at Cal FC's 11 starters who beat Portland ...

DERBY CARRILLO. The Cal FC goalie attended Cal State Dominguez Hills, home of the Home Depot Center. He knows all about the Seattle Sounders. He played with the neighboring Kitsap Pumas in 2010 and had a trial with the Sounders. He even scrimmaged with the Sounders' reserves. He returned home after spending 2011 with FC New York in USL PRO.

JESUS GONZALEZ. Defender is only 20 but has lots of promise. Spent time with the U.S. under-18 national team. Played the 2011 season with the Timbers U-23s in the PDL. Also tried out with the Sounders.

BETO NAVARRO. Defender attended Delano High School near Bakersfield and played for the Roadrunners at CSU Bakersfield.

MIKE RANDOLPH. Defender was a JC star at Yavapai in Arizona. He's the oldest player on Cal FC at 26. Was a finalist for USL First Division Rookie of the Year with the Portland Timbers in 2006. Then spent part of three seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy, making 39 appearances. Played for Miami FC and the Los Angeles Blues the last two years.

HECTOR ESPINOZA. Defender is also only 20. Attended Santa Ana College for two years, playing 36 games of community college ball.

RICHARD MENJIVAR. Starred at CSU Bakersfield and was on the El Salvador team that knocked the United States from Olympic qualifying.

EDER ARREOLA. All-Pac 12 selection in 2011 at UCLA. Taken by the Houston Dynamo in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft. Played for the USA in the 2011 Concacaf Under-20 Championship.

PABLO CRUZ. Midfielder is also only 20. Like Menjivar, played for LAFC in the Development Academy. Was named to the U-17/18 Development Academy Starting XI in 2009-10. He previously spent one semester with the U-17 national team program in Bradenton, Fla.

DIEGO BARRERA. Born in Colombia, he moved to California as a child and attended Loyola Marymount and New Mexico. Played for several PDL clubs before moving to USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads last summer and the indoor Syracuse Silver Knights this past winter. At 25, one of the oldest players on the team. Set up two goals in 4-0 win over Wilmington in second round.

DANNY BARRERA. The 22-year-old attacking midfielder is Diego's younger brother. Also spent time in U.S. U-17 residency and attended UC Santa Barbara, where he was a two-time Big West Midfielder of the Year before leaving to pursue a professional career. Played one game last fall for FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda in Serbia before returning home. Scored two goals set up by his brother in victory over the Hammerheads in the second round. Also had two goals in 3-1 win over the Kitsap in first round.

ARTUR AGHASYAN. The 24-year-old forward played professionally in Armenia before coming to the United States in 2008. He starred in the PDL for the Ventura County Fusion and played for the Los Angeles Blues last year in USL PRO before finishing the year with MLS's Real Salt Lake, for which he made four appearances. He scored overtime goal to beat the Timbers.

37 comments about "Wynalda's Cal FC boys fall through cracks".
  1. Carlos Thys, June 4, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.

    Could some of these young guys have been integrated into the US Olympic Team so that we wouldn't be sitting out the London 2012 Olympics? Be mindful of this US Soccer: The talent is out there. Both for U23 tournaments like the Olympics and for the Gold Cups and World Cups. The talent is here -- right here. It is not just on German, GB EPL or Scottish League pro squads. The failure to qualify for the 2012 Olympics is a massive failure. Truth be told, we are not having these failures due to lack of available talent with U.S. citizenship. And this is talent right in California....

  2. Lisa Wu-fate, June 4, 2012 at 9:24 p.m.

    Question is, who can find it...?

  3. Paul Lorinczi, June 5, 2012 at 7:41 a.m.

    A good friend of mine says a reset is happening right now. Here in Indianapolis, Indianapolis Public Schools has been running elementary programs for the past 5-6 years. Those kids are now getting into Middle Schools. There are some good technical players coming up. Now, if that is the case here in middle America, I can't imagine how much more is around the country. Low cost school based programs are the way to get started.

  4. Brett Wanner, June 5, 2012 at 8:08 a.m.

    Apparently Eric Wynalda can find it. I'd love to see him get a shot at coaching MLS. There's a lot of grumbling at Philly about the current coaching regime.....

  5. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 8:34 a.m.

    The problem with school teams is that it should be competitive even though it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Carlos, you are absolutely correct. I have always said this. How can it be that Hispanic youth teams dominate at every youth and amateur level in any of the top USA soccer states and it does not reflect this same way in our state, regional or national teams? This Cal team proves this point to another degree. MLS teams should be embarrassed. It us irresponsible for these teams to in good conscience sell tickets and call themselves pros. This is exactly why there should be 2-3 divisions in MLS like "every" other pro league in the world. It is becoming way too obvious now who the truly talented soccer players are. Why? Because its in our Hispanic culture. Run n gun is not the answer.

  6. charles davenport, June 5, 2012 at 8:38 a.m.

    It's the coaching mindset; possibly not enough intuition involved; other countries probably also have players falling thru the cracks, just more exceptional talent. Also, it was said (by DiCicco?)that none of Japan's world cup winning women would have been selected for National teams of Germany, USA, or Sweden. Not big enough or fast enough.

  7. DonJuego Lee, June 5, 2012 at 8:47 a.m.

    It is absurd to think that these players, or any other players in amateur leagues around the country, are undiscovered gems that are better than Brek Shea and the rest of our Olympic team.

    These are good players. Probably about as good as many MLS reserves. But that is a long way from saying they are better than Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey which is exactly what Carlos Thys has said and others agreed to.

  8. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.

    Mr. Lee, the Cal Fc team did not beat the usnmt. This result is a reflection of player and team selection "in general" in the USA, be it MLS or Usnnt. What Carlos & I meant is that if this is seen at the pro level then surely it must be the Ism.t selection problem as well. This result proves that PRO SCOUTING, tactical selection, playing style, etc. Is ineffective in USA. I am going to assume that this Cal Fc team full of Hispanics was very technical. Do you honestly think that perhaps a less athletic but very technical team like this would beat a run & gun MLS team full of fast bruisers? Don't you think that if this is seen at the pro level it perhaps is the same case at the national selection level? Its the mentality of what a great soccer player is in USA, the real problem.

  9. Jack Niner, June 5, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.

    I would like to hear the list of 'Yeah-buts' from Wynalda - I'm sure most here would know what they are. The real problem generally with soccer right now in the US is the level of coaching, i.e., coaches who really don't know a damn thing about playing more than direct, defensive style soccer. If my mindset is to use my midfield to play defense firstly, then every player looks like a Back to me. I refuse to watch these teams, pay any attention to their coaches, and most certainly will NOT encourage a good player to look to play there.

  10. Andrew Stout, June 5, 2012 at 10:23 a.m.

    Winning soccer depends so much on having a team that works together and players who are in form. Did they really fall through the cracks or are they just in a squad that fits them and is performing well?

  11. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.

    Jack play where?

  12. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

    Andrew" whatever the case, there is no good enough reason why amaetur teams should be performing this well against pro teams. These are paid proffessionals. Can you imagine an NBA team losing to a cba team? That would have more justification than thus Becquerel its a pro vs a semi pro team.

  13. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 10:43 a.m.

    9 of 11 Hispanics. At least half of them look to certainly have fell through the cracks. Menjivar is not on a pro MLS team yet?????? 3-4 Olympics players at one point as well. Extremely young team beating seasoned pros??? Anybody have any arguments now on my long time points of Hispanics getting overlooked too many times in USA and how obvious it has become. On another note : how come not one article on Mexico's big win vs Brazil??? Were most of these other articles these 2 days more important or better news???

  14. Thomas Fouce, June 5, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.

    This is a great reason that "we the fan-base" should be clamoring for a relegation system I know that the powers that be in MLS are not interested but I can't help but think that it would improve the game in the US by giving the lower division teams something real to play for.

  15. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.

    We love underdogs don't we? MLS is looking out for owners and investors without holding them truly accountable for quality of soccer. These are the results.

  16. Vince Wallace, June 5, 2012 at 11:53 a.m.

    Here's the original article regarding Wynald's thoughts...


  17. Adrian Gonzalez, June 5, 2012 at 11:57 a.m.

    I agree Thomas, relegation system would bring many of these issues out for everyone to see. Unfortunately here in the US the Pro leagues get all the attention. Baseball is probably furthest along with AAA, AA, and A leagues, basketball has D-League, American football, practice squads. Would there really be enough interest in the next level of soccer ? For me yes, the masses ?

  18. Raffy Afarian, June 5, 2012 at 11:58 a.m.

    The obvious problems to me are style of play, recruiting, and most importantly coaching. The reason Hispanic kids "fall through the cracks" is because they are not big and strong and fast. That is because of the incorrect recruiting process, which in turn leads into the style of play (direct/defensive), which comes from bad coaching.
    It's a simple formula that we, in the US, are ignoring because we are too proud to copy other successful teams like Spain, Brazil, Mexico, etc. Soccer, while a physical game, is not football or rugby where size and speed rule. There's a lot more finesse and brains in action than brawn. If you could have the brain AND the brawn then it would be great. But, unfortunately, that doesn't exist. While brawn triumphs once in a while, example Chelsea in Champion's league, brains triumph a lot more often in the long run, example Spain recently, Brazil and Argentina traditionally.
    Quick players are better than fast players in soccer. Smart players are better than strong players in soccer. The bottom line is, we have the wrong coaches picking the wrong players playing the wrong style. Until we "throw the bums out," we will remain the under-performers that we have been in the past. We have the talent in players, no question, now we need the talent in coaches so we can put the whole package together. I must say that I am optimistic that things like Cal FC are proving things out and Klinsman is picking a few more technical players like Torres and Castillo. We are headed in the right direction. It's only a matter of time.

  19. Alex G. Sicre, June 5, 2012 at 12:27 p.m.

    Amen, Raffy

  20. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 12:31 p.m.

    We'll said Taffy. We can only try o deny the obvious until its rediculous.

  21. Robert Heinrich, June 5, 2012 at 1:13 p.m.

    Your points are well taken Raffy, but I think there's a bigger problem. We don't have a soccer culture in the U.S. Guys, there are minimally EIGHT HUNDRED professional soccer clubs in Brazil. My son trained there a few years ago at an academy (Traffic). He was one of two Americans among young Brazilian boys. His coach told him that every one of those boys would be playing professional soccer. He told me, "Dad, they're in "school," but 90% of the focus is on getting better (at soccer)." I am disgusted with the fact that hockey gets 10x the media coverage that soccer does and the arrogant American snobbery that belittles this sport. Dave Wangerin's book "Soccer in a Football World" tells how football won out over soccer among east coast colleges in the early 20th century and the on-going struggle of the sport since then. Don Garber at MLS never made any bones about the fact that the mission of the league, first and foremost, was to develop a successful BUSINESS model following World Cup 1994. You are talking about the next step to be taken. At least we're in a place where it even makes sense to have a debate about that.

  22. Montele Graves, June 5, 2012 at 1:31 p.m.

    Does anyone even know HOW they play, or HOW they won? Did they dominate possession with an attractive attacking style of play? Or did they win like Chelsea won the Champions League? If so, that will not help us.

  23. Gordon Hayes, June 5, 2012 at 2:03 p.m.

    Please don't bite on Luis Arreola's race-baiting - he never played the game and will throw out blatant untruths to further his agenda - a US MNT of 100% Mexican-Americans. I.e. that 'Hispanic teams dominate at EVERY youth and amateur level in all top soccer states.'

  24. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.

    Montele, you can watch tonight for yourself. My guess is they play posession. The biggest question isnt the playing style but how in the hell is this team who isnt even match fit which means they have not spent much time training with each other beating MLS and USL teams that pick the usually more fit athletic players ?? If this team isn't match fit it can only mean they play a posession tecnical style. Please don't mind Gordon, he is just a huge racist out to prove logic is wrong and he is obsessed with me and pissed off my predictions regarding these very stories coming true. I told you so College Grad.

  25. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 3:06 p.m.

    My good friend Gordon, Do you honestly think that this AMATEUR team of 90% Hispanics that were snubbed because of either being to slow, small, etc. by the MLS is beating now several American Pro Teams is a coincidence??? Wynalda, You are my new hero!!!

  26. Andres Yturralde, June 5, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.

    Luisito, you are right: Mexico ran big against Brasil and came out with a huge win. That's the prize they get for running different options instead of sticking to the same-old-same. Well played, Mexico! You cracked the code!!) On Cal FC, I love the story and I love Wynalda, but I don't want to get too carried away here. Please don't tell me we've suddenly found the be-all-end-all solution to all our problems. If they win the Cup, Cal FC deserve to be praised, just as Chelsea deserve to be praised for winning the Champions. But please don't come here and tell me that you'd suddenly want to change the whole way we are and the whole way we play just because one particular team ran one particular table one particular year. Run it twice or run it a third time, and maybe we'll start to take a serious look at you. Otherwise, as Cal FC themselves would say, hit the reset button: "We set goals, we achieve goals, we reset goals." One game at a time, one goal at a time.

  27. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 4:39 p.m.

    No this doesn't mean we found the defenite solution but it does 100% mean we are doing things completely wrong. The Wynalda team has already proven that. Anything that happens after today is a bonus. Plus Wynalda started this team to only make his point about the faulty selection process in USA in general. How can we look to progress soccerwise in this country if we still can't figure out the essential elements like player selection and appreciate fully our current talent pool? Do you think England would insist on playing their run and gun style if their best player pool were technical and skillful in majority??

  28. Gordon Hayes, June 5, 2012 at 6:12 p.m.

    Posters - Always check Luis - he lies all the time to satisfy his belief that the US MNT should be 100% Mexican American - Wynalda's reason for starting the club, Hispanic teams dominate at every youth and amateur level, etc. In another post, I checked his 'facts' several times and they were all blatant lies. He never played the game and is a daddy coach so save yourself some grief. As to being a racist - that is what poor victim Luis always cries if you disagree with him - I want the US team to get the best athletes regardless of race and Luis wants 100% Mexican American - pretty clear who is a racist.

  29. R2 Dad, June 5, 2012 at 8:38 p.m.

    Gordon, you've got to give it a rest. No one who follows this site cares about race-baiting and trolling so just stop. From what I see in CA-N, there is a case to be made that Hispanics (and no, they're not just Mexicans) have the skills but don't get the exposure. My theory is that since so much of MLS is comprised of college grads and south-of-the-border direct hires, Hispanics already here don't get the exposure because they're not getting good enough grades to get on to college teams and continue playing. Look at Michael Bradley. Mr. Feet-of-Stone has been able to continue playing and improving over the past few years and has turned into a decent player. Imagine if he had any foot skills at 15 what he would be like today. Hispanics aren't going to get those types of opportunities if they can't keep playing at the college level, because that's where the scouts focus. Maybe if you can change scouting it would be different but that would need to come from the top and Sunil has a limited understanding of, well, most everything.

  30. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 10:24 p.m.

    Gordon, can you please elaborate on what the best athletes are for soccer, so everyone here can understand how extensive you're soccer knowledge and college education really is??

  31. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 10:29 p.m.

    Gordon here thinks I want all Mexicans on Usnnt becaude I said we should stop going as far as Germany for players and trying to mirier the English game anclook closer to home at Mexico who has shown to currently be one of the best in the world at player development.

  32. Gordon Hayes, June 6, 2012 at 4:39 a.m.

    R2 Dad - I care and hard for you to know what all others on this site think. If someone spouts lies I am probably going to take action - if you are okay with that then you can give yourself a rest. Your point is a bit confusing - most of the above players DID attend college. All the scouting in the world isn't going to change things until we get our best athletes choosing soccer - Dan Patrick was talking about this on his radio show I think with Dan Uggla about kids not playing football due to concussions and it was interesting.

  33. Gordon Hayes, June 6, 2012 at 5:11 a.m.

    For those that do care if someone spouts lies about something we are all passionate about - Luis said "When in fact we do get a majority of Hispanics on the usa natipnal teams we will then be a top soccer country.". That is why I know his bias only will be satisfied with a full US MNT of Mexican Americans - it has nothing to do with what he stated above which is more lies and deceit. Further, he claims as a fact Mexico is one of the best in the world at player development currently - he is basing that on recent youth results but, as always Luis spouts off things as fact that are not necessarily so - for example, the last FIFA Player of the Year finalists did not include any Mexicans and included three Germans - this is really more in line with player development and incidentally, for the women, also no Mexicans (three Amerians). Just trying to help others.

  34. Luis Arreola, June 6, 2012 at 8:03 a.m.

    Gordon, he is talking in general and not about just the boys above. Germany is also currently one of the best in the world at player development right now but at every youth level competition Mexico has come out on Top. Here is the key words- IN GENERAL. You can't acknowledge this because you're racist. Mexico will keep its progress and dishing out results making people like you sound more ignorant as each tournament goes by. Hispanics, like black people with basketball, are just more passionate about soccer. Therefore, the creativity and outstanding skill. They are picking soccer first and are the largest minority. Just like black people in basketball. This should reflect accordingly. IN GENERAL. But unlike black people in basketball it does not. But you and Dan Patrick keep worrying about what if. You did not answer the question. What are the best athletes for soccer??

  35. Luis Arreola, June 6, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.

    You see when Gordon saids the "best athletes" are not picking soccer first he means the ones dominating basketball and football mostly. According to Gordon and now Dan Patrick the ethnicity that do pick soccer first are not considered the best athletes in USA. Can anyone make sense of this?

  36. Gordon Hayes, June 6, 2012 at 4:27 p.m.

    As I pointed put Luis will just cry racism no matter what anyone says but his true feelings are...."Very few in USA know much about soccer" & "I didn't even play soccer" and "I get certified only as needed" and never forget he is a race-baiting liar so always check his facts such as " Germany is also currently one of the best in the world at player development right now but at every youth level competition Mexico has come out on Top." Just checked the history of the U20 WC to see if he was lying again and Mexico has had one third place finish since the 1980's and has never finished above fourth since then - just trying to help.

  37. Luis Arreola, June 6, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.

    I said as of late. Not historically.

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