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Get to Know Wednesday’s US Open Cup Opponent, CD Aguiluchos USA

Thomas Hodul fills us in on Sacramento Republic's first US Open Cup opponent, CD Aguiluchos USA of the NPSL.

CD Aguiluchos USA

Editor's Note: This look at CD Aguiluchos USA was written for ICS by Thomas Hodul, who covers the Golden Gate Conference of the NPSL. Find his work on Midfield Press, Footy SF, and NPSL.com.

CD Aguiluchos USA was founded in 2012 by Roger Amaya to pay tribute to his favorite team, CD Aguila, of the city of San Miguel in El Salvador. CD Aguila is one of the most successful teams in the history of El Salvador, having won the CONCOCAF Champions Cup in 1976. Aguila is Spanish for eagle and Aguiluchos means young eagle. Although the two teams are not tied officially, they did play a friendly last summer against each other in the Bay Area.

The Aguiluchos play their home games in Oakland, California on a renovated recreational soccer field known as Raimondi Park. Raimondi is in West Oakland, just on the east side of the Bay Bridge. The Aguiluchos were founded on the idea of bringing displaced Bay Area El Salvadorians together to celebrate their culture, with traditional El Salvadorian cuisine, pupusas, available at every match and El Salvadorian Cumbia music playing.

The Aguiluchos qualified for the US Open Cup by winning the West Region of the NPSL and reaching the NPSL national semi-finals in 2015. They lost in the semi-finals to the Cosmos B in New York. To reach the second round of the Cup, they beat SF City FC last week at the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park. The first half of the match was balanced, but the Aguiluchos dominated the second half, eventually wining 3-0, with goals from talisman Simon Rawnsley, a free kick goal by Miguel Santiago, followed by a goal from substitute Matheus Freire.

The Aguiluchos boast a potent attacking duo, lining up in a classic 4-4-2. Number 9, Simon Rawnsley, plays the more attacking forward. He currently has 11 goals from his first 9 matches in all competitions. He is the defending NPSL Golden Boot winner, and was rested in Friday night’s NPSL match in preparation for the Republic. His creator and strike partner is Number 2, Ross Middlemiss, who currently has 6 goals and 5 assists in all competitions. Middlemiss was the 2013 NPSL Player of the Year while playing with Sonoma County Sol at the time. He was also on last year’s NPSL Best 11, and is generally regarded as one of the top players in the entire league.

Other players to watch include Number 18, Ahmad Hatifie, an Oakland native who has 30 international caps for Afghanistan. He attended UC Davis and has played for teams in the I-League in India. Number 11, Miguel Santiago, is their top midfielder, with the ability to bend a free kick in from outside the box. He is also second on the team in assists with 4, and is constantly cutting out attacks by the opponent. The Aguiluchos are anchored at the back by Number 19, team captain Ricardo Guerra, and center back Number 3, Bengy Ruiz. Starting goalkeeper Kevin Gonzales commands his area well, and has the ability to make some great one on one saves as well.

Aguiluchos currently are even on points with Sacramento Gold FC in the Golden Gate Conference, and should make the NPSL playoffs comfortably. Sacramento should be able to get by Aguiluchos and into the 3rd round of the Cup. However, don’t be surprised if Aguiluchos are able to find the back of the net at least once and to give the Republic a difficult match up. Many Aguiluchos players could easily play in the USL, but for a variety of reasons, including money, family, and travel, choose to play in the NPSL.