The Fullerton Rangers won their qualifying final for a U.S. Open Cup berth, but it took a few days before they knew they were in the 64-team field.
The Rangers, who have joined the National Premier Soccer League for this season, were selected over the Bay Area Ambassadors for the fourth-division league's final automatic berth in the 99th edition of American soccer's oldest competition, Commissioner Dan Trainor confirmed Monday night.
Fullerton beat San Diego Boca, 3-2, on Friday night in San Diego, with Hope International University goalkeeper Jhovany Hernandez (Garden Grove/Huntington Beach HS and Cerritos College) converting a penalty kick three minutes into second-half stoppage for the winner. Former Cal State Dominguez Hills standout Julio Madrigal (Inglewood/Inglewood HS and L.A. Harbor College) was fouled to win the kick.
The Rangers scored on an own goal right after opening kickoff and were ahead, 2-0, after Cal State Dominguez Hills' Diego Turoldo (Torrance/North Torrance HS) tallied in the 10th minute. Boca had tied the score by the 50th minute.
The NPSL, a national semipro/amateur league, was granted 6.5 spots for this year's Open Cup, with 1.5 going to the West Division. The Bay Area Ambassadors, who beat 2010 NPSL champion Sacramento Gold on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Saturday's North Flight qualifying final, must beat a U.S. Club Soccer representative to reach the main competition. The opponent, date and locale for the playoff have not been announced. The first round of the Open Cup is slated for May 15.
The other five NPSL teams in the Open Cup are reigning league champion Jacksonville United, Brooklyn Italians, Georgia Revolution, Milwaukee Bavarians and FC Sonic Lehigh Valley.
The NPSL entrants begin the competition in the first round, along with Ventura County Fusion from the fourth-tier Premier Development League. The L.A. Blues, from the third-tier USL Pro, begins play a week later in the second round, and MLS clubs -- the Galaxy and Chivas USA included -- open May 29 in the third round.