Fri. Aug 19th, 2022


2022 US Open Cup Second Round preview

After a First Round that started and ended with the same game, the 107th US Open Cup will now welcome professional teams. Across four leagues, including three in the third division, 46 pro teams will join the 16 Round 1 winners. A grand total of 31 games will be played between Tuesday (11), Wednesday (13), and Thursday (7) to determine which teams possibly have a date with a Major League Soccer side.

An astounding 17 professional teams will make their tournament debut in this round, including four playing against one another in two separate games. This includes nearly every team from the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) and the unique case of MLS Next Pro’s St. Louis City squad.

All games this round, and the rest of the tournament, will be broadcasted on the ESPN+ subscription service. The draw for the Third Round will take place on Friday, April 8, following the (hopeful) conclusion of Round 2.

As always, TheCup.us will have reporters at every game and will be providing in-game updates on Twitter (@USOpenCup) and as we have done for more than a decade, the hashtag we recommend is #USOC2022.

Below you will find a brief preview of all thirty-one of this week’s games with links to each broadcast.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

North Carolina Fusion U-23s (USL League 2) at Charlotte Independence (USL League One)
American Legion Memorial Stadium – Charlotte, NC
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

North Carolina Fusion U-23s won their First Round contest twice, off and field and on. Their opponents, South Carolina United FC of USL League Two, were forced to forfeit the match due to ineligible players. In order to not disappoint a good crowd, the teams played a friendly, although the forfeit was not made clear until the following day. North Carolina won the game 3-1 after extra time. Steven Hernandez scored twice and Tom Marriott added another.

The Fusion, who qualified as South Atlantic Division champions and USL League Two runner-up, have a rich history dating back to 1993 when they were founded as the Carolina Dynamo. The Fusion have the second-longest Open Cup history of any club in the First Round, making their Open Cup debut in 1996. The club made five appearances as a Division 3 pro team before joining USL League Two (then known as the PDL) in 2004. The team’s best run, by far, came in 2006 when they defeated two pro teams (USL sides Richmond Kickers, Seattle Sounders) before falling to the Houston Dynamo (MLS) on the road.

This will be the Fusion’s 8th Open Cup game against a fellow North Carolina club. The Fusion are 2-5-0 all time against Tar Heel State clubs, their two wins coming in 2003 (2R vs. Raleigh CASL Elite, 2-1) and 2004 (2R vs. Charlotte Eagles, 4-2).

The Charlotte Independence make their sixth Open Cup appearance all time, but look to win their first Open Cup game since 2017’s 3-2 victory over Charlotte Eagles in the Second Round.. With the arrival of Charlotte FC to Major League Soccer, the Independence have moved from the USL Championship down to USL League One. While the Independence had an impressive run to the Fifth Round (falling to the Chicago Fire on the road) in their inaugural Open Cup run in 2015, the club has not won more than one game in a tournament since, including being eliminated at home to amateur opponents in each of their last two entries (2018 vs. Ocean City Nor’easters; 2019 vs. Florida Soccer Soldiers).

The Independence lost a few players from their 2021 roster to the new MLS club. Charlotte made a strong showing in last season’s USL Championship campaign, finishing 4th in the Eastern Conference for their best ever finish in that league.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

North Carolina Fusion U23 (USL League Two)
13th US Open Cup appearance (8th as USL-2 team)
Overall: 12-12-1 (1-0 PKs) | 7-7-1 (1-0 PKs) as USL-2
Away: 2-9-0 | 0-4-0 as USL-2
vs. Division 3: 2-2-0 | 2-2-0 as USL-2
Best finish: Fourth Round (2006)

Charlotte Independence (USL League One)
6th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 5-4-1 (0-1 PKs)
Home: 1-1-1 (0-1 PKs)
vs. Amateurs: 3-1-1 (0-1 PKs)
Best finish: Fifth Round (2015)


Maryland Bobcats (NISA) at Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL Championship)
Highmark Stadium – Pittsburgh, PA
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

The Maryland Bobcats are making their Open Cup debut against a club with one of the longer histories in Open Cup play, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. In their 30 Open Cup games, the Riverhounds have never played a team from Maryland. The Riverhounds last Open Cup appearance in 2019 saw them reach the Fourth Round where they fell 1-0 to the Columbus Crew.

Dane Kelly Charleston Battery 2015 US Open Cup

Dane Kelly, the Charleston Battery’s all-time Open Cup scorer, is leading the Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ offense in 2022. Kelly is shown here in 2015 with the Battery in the club’s 3-2 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Photo: Charleston Battery

The Riverhounds are led on the sidelines by Bob Lilley. In his fifth season as the Riverhounds boss, Lilley is tied with former Charleston Battery head coach Mike Anhaeuser as the winningest coach in USL Championship history with 130 victories. The Riverhounds added some punch to their offense with the signing of USL Championship veteran Dane Kelly, to go along with a returning Russell Cicerone (16 goals, 8 assists in 2021), Alex Dixon (9 assists) and Kenardo Forbes (all-time USL Championship assists leader). The Riverhounds are off to a good start in their 2022 USL Championship season, sitting in third in the Eastern Conference with a 3-0-1 record. They enter their opening round game fresh off a 2-0 home win over Loundon United on the strength of a pair of second half goals from Dane Kelly. Kelly has a strong Open Cup resume with seven career tournament goals all scored with the Charleston Battery in five competitions. He remains tied for the most Open Cup goals in Charleston’s team history and ranks third in the Modern Era among all players from third division clubs.

The Bobcats are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2021 NISA Fall season, where the club finished 9th out of 10 teams with a 5-8-5 record. One of the Bobcats new players for 2022 is Felix Annan, a 27 year old goalkeeper who has made three appearances for Ghana and has played his entire career in his home nation with Ghanaian powerhouse Asante Kotoko. Another new player the Bobcats will count on is Honduran forward Darwin Espinal. Espinal made five appearances with the Honduran Under-23 team, and was part of Detroit City’s NISA championship team in 2021. Over the weekend, the Bobcats picked up the club’s first win to improve to 1-0-1 on the young 2022 NISA season. The Bobcats defeated Flower City Union 6-1 at the Maryland Soccerplex. Elijah Amo and Espinal scored first half goals and Samuel Solomon added a second half brace before Amo added a second before the scoring was rounded out by an own goal.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Maryland Bobcats (NISA)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USL Championship)
18th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 12-15-3 (1-2 PKs)
Home: 9-5-1 (1-0 PKs)
vs. Division 3: 0-1-0
Best finish: Quarterfinals (2001)


St. Louis CITY 2 (MLS Next Pro) at Indy Eleven (USL Championship)
Michael A. Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium (IUPUI) – Indianapolis, IN
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

If you appreciate our coverage of the US Open Cup for the last (nearly) two decades, and want to see it grow in the future, consider joining our Patreon team by clicking above.

Dating back to their NASL days, Indy Eleven has never found success in the Open Cup, only managing to advance past their opening game three times, all three times ending in a loss the next round to a pro team (2 MLS teams). Their most notable Open Cup moment was taking the Chicago Fire to penalties in 2016 after a 1-1 draw. Indy had a disappointing 2021 USL Championship season, finishing 12th out of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference.

Indy Eleven returns Trinidad & Tobago international Neveal Hackshaw in their backline, and has added veteran Haitain defender Mechack Jerome from El Paso Locomotive. Another arrival from El Paso is head coach Mark Lowry, who fills the spot left open when Martin Rennie left the team last season to take the head job at Scottish club Falkirk.

St. Louis City 2 is one of two teams (along with Rochester New York FC) from the new MLS Next Pro league to participate in this season’s Open Cup. Normally reserve teams of MLS clubs are not allowed entry into the Open Cup, but since City’s parent MLS club does not start play until the 2023 season they are able to take part in this year’s tournament. St. Louis City’s Sporting Director Lutz Pfannestiel holds a unique record of having played for professional clubs in all six recognized continental associations. In all, he has played for 27 different teams around the world.

St. Louis City 2 played in MLS Next Pro’s inaugural game, hosting Rochester NY FC. St. Louis City won 2-0 with goals from Wan Kuzain Bin Wan Kamal and Vitor Feitoza Almeida Dias. John Hackworth (former USYNT U-17s, Philadelphia Union, and Louisville City head coach) is helming the team. Wan Kuzain, Ezra Armstrong, Célio Pompeu Martins, and Josh Yaro are some of the notable players to watch.

St. Louis is one of the legendary cities in Open Cup history, with 10 Open Cup championships having been won by teams from the city. Stix Baer & Fuller lead the way with three (1933-1935), followed by Kutis SC (1957, 1986) and Simpkins Ford (1948,1950) with two each. Ben Miller (1920), Scullin Steel (1922), and Busch SC (1988) each have one.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

St. Louis CITY 2 (MLS Next Pro)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Indy Eleven (USL Championship)
7th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 3-5-1 (0-1 PKs)
Home: 3-1-0
vs. Division 3: 3-1-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2014, 2016)


Michigan Stars FC (NISA) at Detroit City FC (USL Championship)
Keyworth Stadium – Hamtramck, MI
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

 

Detroit City FC fans celebrate a PK shootout win over the Michigan Bucks in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Jon DeBoer | DCFC

Detroit City FC fans celebrate a PK shootout win over the Michigan Bucks in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Jon DeBoer | DCFC

Michigan Stars make the 30 mile trip South to play Detroit City FC, in a matchup with a poisonous history – even though this is the first time it has been staged as part of the US Open Cup. The two Metro Detroit teams have faced each other in NPSL and NISA previously, with the most recent match being a 3-2 DCFC win at Stars in what would be their last match as a member of NISA on Nov. 20 of last year, capping Le Rouge’s championship season with a 14-3-1.

City, who are one of the best supported lower divisions teams in the country (averaging more than 4,000 fans per game, and more than 6,000 in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic) moved to the USL Championship this past offseason and hold a 1-2-2 record in their debut campaign. City welcome back Senegalese midfielder Abdoulaye Diop, who returns to the club after two years at Atlanta United 2. Over the weekend, they earned a second straight 1-1 draw, this time at home to Memphis 901 FC to extend their unbeaten run to three games (1-0-2).

Le Rouge, as City is nicknamed, has qualified for the US Open Cup four times, and have advanced twice, but are still seeking the club’s first tournament win. The only times they advanced (at Michigan Bucks in 2016; home vs. Michigan Bucks in 2018) were both in penalty kick shootouts, which are officially listed as draws in Open Cup records.

While the city has never lifted the trophy, the Motor City has a rich Open Cup history. Packard FC and Roses FC were Detroit’s very first entrants into the Open Cup in the inaugural National Challenge Cup in 1913/14. Roses FC reached the Third Round before falling to Niagara Falls Rangers 2-0. Detroit has had two teams reach the Final but both teams fell short (Holley Carburetor in 1927, Chrysler SC in 1941).

Meanwhile the Stars, who are making their Open Cup debut, finished their most recent season in NISA with a record of 5-6-7. The club won’t play their league opener until April 9 when they play on the road against Flower City Union.

The Stars head coach George Juncaj has some Open Cup experience, leading amateur side Detroit United to the tournament in 2010. That year, they defeated Nebraska side 402 in a thrilling “Win & You’re In” qualifier that finished tied at 5-5 before going to penalties where United won 4-2. The team would lose their opening round game 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Thehre was some late off-field drama in the game when Juncaj was ejected after he tried to substitute in an ineligible player and was denied. According to the game’s referee report, Juncaj threatened a referee over the matter, telling him “I will find you and I will fight you.” This led to Juncaj being ejected and escorted by police to the visiting locker room. Since this incident happened more than a decade ago, the one-game suspension has been taken off the tournament’s disciplinary records and Juncaj is now eligible to coach in the US Open Cup again.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Michigan Stars (NISA)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Detroit City FC (USL Championship)
5th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-2-4 (2-2 PKs)
Home: 0-0-2 (1-1 PKs)
vs. Division 3: 0-0-1 (0-1 PKs)
Best finish: Second Round (2016, 2018)


The Villages SC (USL League Two) at Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL Championship)
Al Lang Stadium – St. Petersburg, FL
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

Players from the Tampa Bay Rowdies (right) and The Villages SC battle for the ball in their Second Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Tampa Bay Rowdies

Players from the Tampa Bay Rowdies (right) and The Villages SC battle for the ball in their Second Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Tampa Bay Rowdies

Despite this being Tampa Bay Rowdies’ 10th trip to the US Open Cup, the professionals have only won multiple games in a single tournament once, that being a memorable run to the Fourth Round in 2013, stunning the three-time reigning Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders 1-0 at Al Lang Stadium, before falling on the road at Portland Timbers in the next round. By upsetting the Sounders, they denied the MLS side a chance to become the first club in tournament history to win four straight titles.

This is the second tournament in a row that these two teams have met with the Rowdies beating The Villages 4-1 in Round 2 of 2019 US Open Cup.

The Villages SC have become regulars in the U.S. Open Cup since their formation in 2012 as the Ocala Stampede. After missing out on the 2012 tournament because they were a new franchise, they have qualified for every tournament since, including the canceled 2020 & 2021 editions. The Villages have lost just twice out of 24 regular season games for the 2019 & 2021 USL League Two seasons, but their regular season success has failed to produce deep runs in the playoffs. In the Open Cup, they have advanced just three times in 10 matches entering the 2022 tournament (2-6-2, 1-1 PKs) and have yet to upset a pro team in four attempts (0-4-0). Despite that, they currently have the longest qualifying streak of any current amateur club with eight straight trips to the Open Cup. 

According to TheCup.us records, Florida’s first-ever entry in the Open Cup was in 1979, when H. Brooks Dodge Chargers of Tampa reached the Semifinals. It was also the first year the tournament was divided into four regions (East, Midwest, South & West), with the winner from each region earning a semifinal berth.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

The Villages SC (USL League Two)
8th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 3-6-2 (1-1 PKs)
Away: 1-4-2 (1-1 PKs)
vs. Division 2: 0-1-0
Best finish: Second Round (2013, 2014, 2016, 2019, 2022)

Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL Championship)
10th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 7-9-0
Home: 4-1-0
vs. Amateurs: 4-0-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2014, 2016)


Des Moines Menace (USL League Two) at Union Omaha (USL League One)
Morrison Stadium (Creighton Univ.) – Omaha, NE
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

Des Moines Menace 2022 US Open Cup

The Des Moines Menace celebrate scoring a goal vs. Minneapolis City SC in the First Round of the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: Jose Calderon @digitaljose

Fresh from dispatching their new league-mates Minneapolis City 4-2, USL League Two champions Des Moines Menace make the trip west to Omaha looking to add another pro team upset to the club’s resume. The Menace have eliminated seven pro teams in their history, which ranks second only to the Flint City Bucks (10) among amateur teams in the Modern Era (1995-present). That said, their last victory against a professional side was back in 2016, with a Second Round 2-0 win over the Tulsa Roughnecks (now FC Tulsa).

Their last successful road trip to a professional side was slightly further back than that, in the Second Round of the 2013 tournament against Minnesota United of the NASL. This year’s club will be looking to make their own history. The Menace finished their most recent league season with a 11-0-1 record, defeating North Carolina Fusion U23 1-0 in the League Two Final.

Despite being the professional side, it is Union who come into the game making their debut in the competition. Union had a stellar debut season in USL League One, finishing on top of the standings with a 14-5-9 record, and cruising to the league championship in a dominating playoff run, scoring nine goals to just one allowed. Playoff MVP Damia Viader moved on from Omaha to sign with Sacramento Republic (USL Championship) in the offseason.

Union welcome to their roster forward Dion Acoff, a former Creighton Blue Jay who has spent the past seven years playing for various teams in Finland and Iceland. Acoff reunited with Union head coach Jay Mims, who was in charge of Creighton during Acoff’s time with the team.

Omaha are attempting to make history for their state as, according to TheCup.us records, a team from Nebraska has never won a game in the US Open Cup. The earliest record of a Nebraska team competing in the tournament was in 1997 when the Lincoln Brigade of the PDSL (now USL League Two) qualified and fell in a penalty kick shootout on the road against the Philadelphia Freedom (USL D-3 Pro League).

NOTE: We are missing some match details from that Brigade/Freedom match in 1997. If you know anyone connected with those teams, send us an email here

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Des Moines Menace (USL-2)
14th US Open Cup appearance (12th as USL-2 team)
Overall: 13-11-3 (2-1 PKs)
Away: 5-5-0
vs. Division 3: 7-2-1 (1-0 PKs)
Best finish: Fourth Round (2005)

Union Omaha (USL League One)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Home: 0-0-0
vs. Amateurs: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A


Tulsa Athletic (NPSL) at FC Tulsa (USL Championship)
ONEOK Field – Tulsa, OK
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

The battle for supremacy in Tulsa commences in the Second Round as teams from the 918 face off for the first time in Open Cup history.

Tulsa Athletic vs Azteca FC 2022 US Open Cup

Tulsa Athletic celebrates Joe Garcia’s penalty kick goal in the 72nd minute against Azteca FC in the First Round of the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: Lori Scholl

Tulsa Athletic won their opening round game over a stubborn Azteca FC (Colo.), 3-1. Azteca held Tulsa to just a 1-0 lead for 72 minutes, then Joseph Garcia and Ruben Torres scored goals three minutes apart to give Tulsa its first Open Cup win in club history. Aaron Ugbah netted the opening Tulsa goal in the first half.

Tulsa Athletic qualified for their fourth US Open Cup (2014, 2015, 2017) via an NPSL berth by virtue of finishing as runners-up in the NPSL National Final last August. Captain Joe Garcia had a first half brace in what would ultimately be a 5-2 defeat against Denton Diablos.

FC Tulsa has had a rather lackluster Open Cup history in their previous five appearances in the tournament. Their high point was reaching the Fourth Round in 2017 where they lost 2-1 to FC Dallas. They were then one-and-done in the following two editions, losing 4-3 to FC Wichita of the NPSL in 2018, and dropping a 2-0 contest with leaguemates Austin Bold FC in 2019. Perhaps a new name will aid in turning around FC Tulsa’s Open Cup fortunes. In 2019 the club was known as the Tulsa Roughnecks FC, a nod to the NASL team of the same name. At the end of the 2019 season the team dropped the Roughnecks name in favor of the current moniker.

FC Tulsa is off to a 2-2-0 start in the 2022 USL Championship. Rodrigo da Costa anchors the midfield for FC Tulsa, a  Brazilian who came to Tulsa in 2019 after helping 2019 Open Cup Cinderella Florida Soccer Soldiers make a deep run in the 2018 National Amateur Cup. An offseason trade helped Tulsa bolster their attack as they acquired Jamaican forward Brian Brown from New Mexico United. Brown has racked up 38 goals and 22 assists over 109 USL Championship games.

In 1984 the NASL’s Tulsa Roughnecks expressed interest in becoming the first team from the league to participate in the Open Cup. Schedule conflicts during the ‘84 NASL season prevented their inclusion, and the league folded before the 1985 season began, leaving the Roughnecks’ dream unfulfilled.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Tulsa Athletic (NPSL)
4th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-2-1 (0-1 PKs)
Away: 0-1-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2014)

FC Tulsa (USL Championship)
6thh US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 2-5-1 (1-0 PKs)
Home: 2-1-1 (1-0 PKs)
vs. Amateurs: 2-2-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2017)


D’Feeters Kicks (USCS / The Roja League) at San Antonio FC (USL Championship)
Toyota Field – San Antonio, TX
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

 

Steven Chavez, D'Feeters Kicks SC, Denton Diablos FC, 2022 US Open Cup, First Round, Goal

D’Feeters Kicks SC midfielder Steven Chavez (17) celebrates with his teammates following his goal against Denton Diablos FC in the First Round of the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: Carlos Hernandez

D’Feeters Kicks are looking to follow up their victory against defending NPSL champions Denton Diablos by taking down a professional side. However, San Antonio is 5-0-0 all-time against amateur teams, and have beaten at least one in each of their first four USOC appearances. In their four previous Open Cup appearances, San Antonio has never failed to progress past their opening game

In the Roja League, D’Feeters finished in first place in the winter season, reaching the championship final. In qualifying for the 2022 Cup, D’Feeters followed a forfeit win in their opening qualifying game with a 2-1 extra time victory over Houston Hotshots GPFC. They punched their ticket to this year’s tournament with a 2-1 win over Southwest Football Club.

2022 MEET THE UNDERDOGS: D’FEETERS KICKS SC

San Antonio is looking to build off a successful 2021 USL Championship season. The club finished fourth in the Western Conference and reached the Conference Final where they fell to eventual champions Orange County SC on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

The club will be without the services of Nathan Fogaca, last season’s team goal scoring leader who returned to his native Brazil. San Antonio will hope to fill that gap with the acquisition of Kekuta Manneh, a veteran from The Gambia who has played with five different MLS clubs, most recently Austin FC in 2021. San Antonio FC are a perfect 3-1-0 in the early going in the USL Championship.

The city of San Antonio has roots in the earliest involvement of the USL in the Open Cup. When the league was known as the Southwest Interregional Soccer League, the San Antonio Generals took part in a round robin qualifying tournament with other teams from the Tex-Oma Conference for a spot in the 1991 US Open Cup. The Generals finished a distant second in their group behind eventual Open Cup runners-up Richardson Rockets.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

D’Feeters Kicks
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-0-0
Away: 1-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2022)

San Antonio FC (USL Championship)
5th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 5-3-2 (1-1 PKs)
Home: 2-1-1 (1-0 PKs)
vs. Amateurs: 5-0-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2016, 2018)


Las Vegas Legends FC (NPSL) at New Mexico United (USL Championship)
Univ. of New Mexico Soccer Complex – Albuquerque, NM
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

New Mexico United players celebrate after defeating the Colorado Rapids in a penalty kick shootout in the Fourth Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Corbin Elliott | Prost Soccer | Twitter: corbinse69

New Mexico United players celebrate after defeating the Colorado Rapids in a penalty kick shootout in the Fourth Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Corbin Elliott | Prost Soccer | Twitter: corbinse69

New Mexico United welcome the Las Vegas Legends to Albuquerque, with the home side looking to build on a storming run through the 2019 US Open Cup, during which they eliminated four professional teams, all on the road (with two MLS sides, Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas, amongst those eliminated). In doing so, they became the first Modern Era side from New Mexico to advance, first to win a match in the Cup, first to beat an MLS team and the first club from the state to make the Quarterfinals since the 1991 New Mexico Chiles.

With all that history on the road, this will be the first home match for NMU in the Open Cup.

Legends come into town fresh from a victory over USL League Two’s Park City Red Wolves where they withstood a furious, late rally. Las Vegas saw a comfortable 3-0 lead dwindle to 3-2 in second half stoppage time. Roberto Soto scored what turned out to be the winning goal, and also assisted on the opener from Samuel Aina. Brandon Vargas scored the second goal on a Daniel Rangel assist.

New Mexico missed out on last season’s USL Championship playoffs by a single point in the standings. United are led on the sidelines by Zach Prince, taking command for the first time after serving as an assistant coach. New Mexico’s biggest signing in the offseason was Jamaican striker Nico Brett, who has scored 59 goals in the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Birmingham Legion.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Las Vegas Legends FC (NPSL)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2022)

New Mexico United (USL Championship)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 2-1-2 (2-0 PKs)
Home: 0-0-0
vs. Amateurs: 0-0-0
Best finish: Quarterfinals (2019)


El Paso Locomotive (USL Championship) at Central Valley Fuego (USL League One)
Lamonica Stadium (Clovis H.S.) – Clovis, CA
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

El Paso’s 2021 USL Championship season ended in disappointment. After finishing second in the Western Conference with a 18-4-10 record, the Locomotive were upset in the opening round of the playoffs by Oakland Roots, 1-0. In the offseason, head coach Mark Lowry left to take the job at Indy Eleven. Replacing Lowry is John Hutchinson, former head coach of the Tacoma Defiance.

Players from Forward Madison (left) and El Paso Locomotive battle for the ball in their Second Round match in the 2019 US OpenCup. Photo: El Paso Locomotive

Players from Forward Madison (left) and El Paso Locomotive battle for the ball in their Second Round match in the 2019 US OpenCup. Photo: El Paso Locomotive

Standout defender Mechack Jerome left to join Lowry at Indy and goalkeeper Logan Ketterer signing with CF Montreal of Major League Soccer. The club will hope to replace those losses with Harry Brockbank from Bolton Wanderers and veteran USL Championship goalkeeper Evan Newton, on loan from the Vancouver Whitecaps. El Paso is starting the 2022 season on a down note with a 0-4-0 record.

The Locomotive have had just one prior Open Cup appearance, which ended after one game with a 3-0 upset loss to Forward Madison of USL League One in 2019.

The Central Valley Fuego are a new team in USL League One, and if the name sounds familiar, it’s a nod to the Fresno Fuego of USL League Two fame (then PDL). The Fresno Fuego made four Open Cup appearances between 2003 and 2017. Ironically, the Fresno Fuego upset the professional El Paso Patriots 5-2 in the Third Round of the 2003 tournament.

Some notable signings for the Fuego are Swedish midfielder Victor Falk, who spent the previous two seasons with the Richmond Kickers. Also joining the Fuego for 2022 is Bulgarian midfielder Villyan Bijev, who has spent the past four seasons with Sacramento Republic and Oklahoma City Energy. Bijev has two Open Cup goals to his credit, 2018 vs. Los Angeles FC (4th Rd.) and 2019 vs. San Jose Earthquakes (4th Rd.).

The El Paso Patriots reached the final of the 1995 tournament, losing to the Richmond Kickers on penalties after a 1-1 draw. In all the Patriots made 10 Open Cup appearances, five each as a pro and amateur team.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

El Paso Locomotive (USL Championship)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-1-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 3: 0-1-0
Best finish: Second Round (2019)

Central Valley Fuego (USL League One)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Home: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A


LA Force FC (NISA) at Orange County SC (USL Championship)
Orange County Great Park (Championship Stadium) – Irvine, CA
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

LA Force, the tip of an organization which also includes FC Golden State Force, make the short trip to Irvine for this Second Round match.

Orange County SC have played FC Golden State Force (USL League Two) twice before. OCSC won 5-2 in 2017 and FCFSF won 4-2 in 2018.

Support TheCup.us and its coverage of the US Open Cup by purchasing a "Champions" shirt, honoring the five clubs from the pre-Modern Era (1914-1994) to win four or more US Open Cup titles. Visit THECUP.US SHOP

Support TheCup.us and its coverage of the US Open Cup by purchasing a “Champions” shirt, honoring the five clubs from the pre-Modern Era (1914-1994) to win four or more US Open Cup titles. Visit THECUP.US SHOP

The LA Force will be led by veteran forward Chandler Hoffman, a 13-year veteran who has had stints with a few MLS clubs. Most notably Hoffman scored 42 goals in four seasons with Louisville City and Real Monarchs. The Force may be one of the more game ready clubs from NISA, having played numerous pre-season games, most notably against the LA Galaxy and San Diego Loyal.

 

Orange County are the defending USL Championship champions, and made a big step in defending that crown by signing Mexican striker Errick Torres. The 29-year-old has spent time with various MLS and Liga MX clubs, most recently two seasons with Atlanta United. Torres will join the attack with last season’s USL Championship Final MVP Ronaldo Damus, who scored twice in Orange County’s 3-1 win over Tampa Bay in the championship.

Under the name Orange County Blues, OCSC played an MLS team (LA Galaxy) in their inaugural Open Cup run in 2011 as a USL Pro (Div. 3) team. They have lost to three MLS teams in their history (LA Galaxy in 2011 & 2017; Chivas USA 2013).

OCSC has been one-and done against amateur teams in each of the last two entries (2018 vs. FCGSF & 2019 vs. Orange County FC in PKs)

Their most recent elimination was the sixth time they had been eliminated by an amateur team, tied for the most times a pro team in the Modern Era has been eliminated in such a manner.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

LA Force FC (NISA)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Orange County SC (USL Championship)
10th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 5-7-2 (0-2 PKs)
Home: 2-3-1 (0-1 PKs)
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2017)


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Flower City Union (NISA) at Western Mass Pioneers (USL League Two)
Lusitano Stadium – Ludlow, MA
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Western Mass Pioneers Brockton FC United 2022 US Open Cup

Gabriel Ganzer of the Western Mass Pioneers leads the break against Brockton FC United in the First Round of the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: Burt Granofsky, @burtphoto

Flower City Union are making their on field debut this season, having been founded in 2021 and providing a strong online presence in anticipation of their first season. Their roster is made up primarily of local Rochester players, so how they’ll perform on the field is still a bit of a mystery. The club dropped their opening game to fellow NISA debuant AC Syracuse Pulse, 1-0.

The Pioneers have made 12 cup appearances since their formation in 1998 (six of them as a pro team). The Pioneers finished with a 10-2-2 record in the USL League Two Northeast Division in 2021, making their way to the National Semifinals where they were stopped by the North Carolina Fusion U-23s, 3-1. The Pioneers are attempting to win multiple games in a single tournament for the first time in club history.

Western Mass snapped a four game Open Cup losing streak by defeating Brockton FC United 2-0 in the opening round. Gabriel Ganzer opened the scoring just after halftime, then assisted on the clinching goal by Jacob Mannix in stoppage time. The Pioneers will be without Joshua Calderon, who picked up a red card in the game with Brockton.

Ludlow, MA has a long history in the U.S. Open Cup. The first known appearance of a Ludlow club in the tournament was on Dec. 19, 1937, when Gremio Lusitano defeated Springfield 3-0 in the second round of qualifying for the 1938 Open Cup. Ludlow Lusitano and Gremio Lusitano also saw Open Cup success in the 1950s. 

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Flower City Union (NISA)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Amateurs: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Western Mass Pioneers (USL-2)
12th US Open Cup appearance (6 as pro team)
Overall: 7-8-3 (0-3 PKs) | 2-3-2 (0-2 PKs) as USL-2
Home: 6-5-2 (0-2 PKs) | 2-1-2 (0-2 PKs) as USL-2
vs. Division 3: 0-3-1 (0-1 PKs) | 0-2-0 as USL-2
Best finish: Third Round (2005 … as pro team)


Richmond Kickers (USL League One) at Northern Virginia FC (USASA/EPSL)
Venue Virginia Revolution Sportsplex; Leesburg, Va.
Kickoff: 8pm ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

Having emerged from their replayed first round match against Lynchburg FC with a 3-1 win, amateur side NoVa FC will try their luck against 1995 Open Cup champions Richmond Kickers of USL League One, who began their USL League One season with a 4-0 victory over FC Tucson.

Northern Virginia FC Nova FC 2022 US Open Cup First Round

Northern Virginia FC celebrates after the club’s 3-1 win over Lynchburg FC in the First Round of the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: NoVa FC

 

Northern Virginia FC has a rather lengthy history that goes back to 1998 in the USL’s D-3 Pro League as the Northern Virginia Royals. As the Royals, the club made its only two Open Cup appearances in 1999 and 2000, and 22 years and three name changes later they’ve made their way back … through a different league. The Royals joined the PDL (now USL League Two) in 2006 and remain in the league to this day. They rebranded as Evergreen FC in 2015 and then took on their current name after the 2020 season. While it maintains a team in USL League Two, it also fields a team in the Eastern Premier Soccer League. As a member of the EPSL, NoVa entered the Open Division Local qualifying tournament.

In a first attempt at qualifying, they secured their first Open Cup berth in more than two decades.

NoVa started with a 2-0 win over Springfield FC, followed by a 2-1 victory over league-mates Virginia United FC. NoVa qualified with a convincing 5-0 win over Districtonia Futbol, despite finishing the game with just nine players.

Northern Virginia runs a few teams in different amateur leagues, including the EPSL and USL League Two and have an overlap with Richmond Kickers in the USISL, back in the 2000s.

1995 US Open Cup champions: Richmond Kickers

After playing the El Paso Patriots to a 1-1 draw, the Richmond Kickers captured the 1995 US Open Cup title by defeating the Patriots on penalty kicks 4-2. Photo: Richmond Kickers

 

The Kickers have been involved in the Open Cup since 1995, winning that year’s tournament as an amateur club. Their most recent deep run came in 2011 when they knocked off two MLS clubs (Columbus & Kansas City) to reach the semifinals, where they lost to the Chicago Fire 2-1. Over the years Richmond has jumped between second and third level USL leagues, having spent 2017 & 18 in the USL, then moving down when USL League One was created.

The Kickers are looking to rebound from a rather mediocre 2021 season, where they finished 11-10-7 and were eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs. Longtime player and coach Darren Sawatzky returns for his third season in charge of the club. Also returning is the 2021 USL League One goal scoring leader and season MVP Emiliano Terzaghi, an Argentine striker who scored 18 of the Kickers 35 goals last season.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Richmond Kickers (USL League One)
22nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 31-19-4 (2-2 PKs)
Away: 6-11-3 (2-1 PKs)
vs. Amateurs: 13-2-1 (1-0 PKs)
Best finish: 1995 US Open Cup champions

Northern Virginia FC (USASA/EPSL)
3rd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-2-0
Home: 0-1-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2000, 2022)


AC Syracuse Pulse (NISA) at FC Motown (NPSL)
Montclair State University Soccer Park; Montclair, N.J.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

FC Motown 2022 US Open Cup

FC Motown pose for a team photo prior to the club’s match vs. West Chester United in the First Round of the 2022 US Open Cup in Montclair, NJ. The team wore shirts in support of teammate Sanclair Tueno, who was hospitalized after being involved in a traffic accident. Photo: FC Motown

FC Motown emerged for a tilt at NISA new boys Syracuse Pulse having seen their first round match voided because of an illegal substitution . Motown had lost the voided match but stole a 90th minute winner in the replay to advance. Their regular season has not yet started for the home town, whereas the Pulse have made a winning start to their life in NISA, with a 1-0 win against Flower City Union.

Syracuse was a bit of a mystery heading into the NISA season opener, having only begun to announce their roster days ahead of their first game. A good chunk of the roster comes with previous NISA experience, as well as a few players with time on USL teams.

FC Motown will enter the game with heavy hearts, as Sinclair Tueno, who came on as a sub in extra time of the first match with West Chester, was involved in an accident that left him with life threatening injuries.

The tournament debut of the Pulse marks the first entry of a Syracuse club since the Syracuse Salty Dogs of the A-League participated in 2004. The Salty Dogs reached the Third Round before falling to the Columbus Crew 2-1.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

AC Syracuse Pulse (NISA)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Amateurs: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

FC Motown (NPSL)
4th US Open Cup appearance
NOTE: Merged with Clarkstown SC Eagles after 2017 season, which had 2 appearances in 2016 and 2017)
Overall: 3-2-1 (0-1 PKs)
Home: 2-1-0
vs. Division 3: 2-0-1 (0-1 PKs)
Best finish: Second Round (2017, 2018, 2022)


South Georgia Tormenta FC (USL League One) at Charleston Battery (USL Championship)
Patriot’s Point Soccer Stadium – Mt. Pleasant, SC
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Support TheCup.us and its coverage of the US Open Cup by purchasing a "Champions" shirt, honoring the five clubs from the pre-Modern Era (1914-1994) to win four or more US Open Cup titles. Visit THECUP.US SHOP

Support TheCup.us and its coverage of the US Open Cup by purchasing a “Champions” shirt, honoring the five clubs from the pre-Modern Era (1914-1994) to win four or more US Open Cup titles. Visit THECUP.US SHOP

The Charleston Battery are the granddaddies of the Open Cup since 1995, with 58 games over 20 previous Open Cup appearances. Along the way they’ve reached the Semifinals two times, and are the last non-MLS club to reach the Open Cup Final (2008). The Battery have failed to advance past their opening game just twice, the last time coming in 2005. Charleston are also one of the ultimate Open Cup home clubs, having played 37 of their 58 Cup games in Charleston, in which only six of those were lost by the Battery.

For the first time since 2004 the Battery will be led by a new head coach, as longtime skipper Mike Anhaeuser left the club during the offseason. Taking the helm will be Conor Casey, former U.S. National team member and veteran of the Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union.

Charleston enters the South Georgia game riding a nine-game home unbeaten streak and haven’t lost a US Open Cup home game since 2018.

The South Georgia Tormenta did not enjoy a good 2021 USL League One season, finishing next to last with an 8-14-6 record. They also lost the services of Azaad Liadi and Marco Micaletto, scorers of 20 of the teams 36 goals, as they both moved on to Loudoun United and Columbus Crew 2 successively. Tormenta will look to rebound with the signing of Kenyan Tobias Otieno from League One champions Union Omaha. Otieno also had experience in African continental club competitions with Kenyan side Gor Mahia FC.

Also new to the Tormenta roster is Ghanian midfielder Kingsford Adjei, who tied as the leading goal scorer for 2021 USL League Two champions Des Moines Menace. Adjei, who was selected in the second round by New York City FC in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, also was named Midfielder of the year in the Atlantic 10 Conference during his time with the University of Dayton.

South Georgia have played just one game to their Open Cup resume, a -10 loss to fellow USL League One club Greenville Triumph SC. Their affiliate club, South Georgia Tormenta 2 of USL League Two earned a spot in this year’s tournament but declined to enter. Tormenta 2 also had a previous run-in with the Battery, which resulted in a 1-0 loss to Charleston in the 2018 Second Round.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

South Georgia Tormenta FC (USL League One)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-1-0
Away: 0-1-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2019, 2022)

Charleston Battery (USL Championship)
21st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 34-17-7 (4-3 PKs)
Home: 26-6-5 (2-3 PKs)
vs. Division 3: 5-1-0
Best finish: Runners Up (2008)


Miami United FC (NPSL) at Miami FC (USL Championship)
Florida International Univ. Soccer Stadium – Miami, FL
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

 

The Miami United Under-23s pose for a team photo before their 2020 US Open Cup qualifying match against Atletico Miami CF. Photo: Miami United FC

The Miami United Under-23s pose for a team photo before their 2020 US Open Cup qualifying match against Atletico Miami CF. Photo: Miami United FC

As is common for NPSL sides, Miami United have yet to begin their season, having finished top of the Sunshine Conference – before they bowed out of the playoffs at the Sunshine Conference Final stage. They meet former NPSL side Miami FC at FIU. MFC are 1-1-3 in the early USL Championship season.

Miami United played a remarkable opening round game versus City Soccer FC. The score stood at 0-0 after 79 minutes, then both teams combined for four goals in the final 15 minutes, with Miami United coming out on top 3-1. Lucas Espindola scored the final two for Miami, one on a PK in stoppage time, and the other assisted by opening goal scorer Robertino Insua.

Perhaps Miami’s biggest offseason addition is Kyle Murphy, who scored 20 times last season for Memphis 901 FC. In 2021 the team welcomed back defender Paco Craig after spending 2020  in his home country of England. A two time USL Championship title winner with Louisville City, Craig was named to the All USL Championship First Team.

Miami FC’s head coach is someone familiar with the area. Anthony Pulis takes over leadership of the team after spending 2021 as an assistant to Phil Neville at Inter Miami CF.

Miami United have previously crossed paths with Miami FC in Open Cup play, sort of. In 2018 United defeated Miami FC 2, 3-1 in the Third Round. The tricky part is Miami FC had been part of the NASL in 2017, but when the league shut down after being denied Division 2 status, Miami FC moved some of their players to their NPSL team for 2018.

In 2017 Miami FC defeated two MLS clubs (Atlanta United and Orlando City) to earn a Quarterfinal date with an even bigger Cinderella story, the red hot FC Cincinnati of the USL. FC Cincinnati had knocked off two MLS clubs themselves (Columbus & Chicago), with the latter being nationally televised on ESPN in front of 33,287 fans in Cincinnati. FC Cincinnati prevailed 1-0 over Miami, earning a spot in the Semifinals.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Miami United FC (NPSL)
4th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 6-3-0
Away: 2-1-0
vs. Division 2: 0-1-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2018)

Miami FC (USL Championship)
5th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 6-4-0
Home: 4-4-0
vs. Amateurs: 3-2-0
Best finish: Quarterfinals (2017)


Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (USL Championship) at North Carolina FC (USL League One)
WakeMed Soccer Park – Cary, NC
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

 

Players from North Carolina FC celebrate the team's only goal against Florida Soccer Soldiers in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Credit - Rob Kinnan

Players from North Carolina FC celebrate the team’s only goal against Florida Soccer Soldiers in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Credit – Rob Kinnan

RGV travel across to North Carolina  to make their Open Cup debut having won one of their opening four games in the USL Championship. RGVFC had previously been ineligible for the Cup due to being controlled by Houston Dynamo.  

Their opponents have yet to begin their season, thus begging the question whether the match practice of the higher division club will show itself. NCFC began their league season with a 1-0 win against South Georgia Tormenta. NCFC have played 35 US Open Cup games all-time, 29 of them at home, and won the last four home games they have played in the USOC. 2021 was the first season that NCFC competed at Division 3 level, having spent three seasons in the USL after a seven year stint in the NASL.

2022 is a case of “nowhere to go but up” for North Carolina, having finished last in the 12 team 2021 USL League One season. NCFC will have one of the youngest teams in USL-1 this season. The youngest of that bunch is 16-year-old Nicholas Holliday, a North Carolina FC U-23s product who became the youngest player ever to play in USL-1 last season at 15.

The Toros caused a sensation in the 2021 USL Championship playoffs by upsetting the No. 1 seed in the  Western Conference Phoenix Rising on penalties in the opening round. For 2022 Rio Grande have brought in Jose Francisco Torres, a veteran United States international who had played from 2006-2019 with Pachuca and Tigres of Liga MX. Also rejoining the Toros is Isidro Martinez. The Brownsville, Texas native spent the 2019 & 2020 seasons with RVG before spending 2021 with New Mexico United.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (USL Championship)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

North Carolina FC (USL League One)
13th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 22-10-3 (1-2 PKs)
Home: 21-6-2 (1-1 PKs)
vs. Division 2: 1-0-0
Best finish: Semifinals (2007)


Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (USL League One) at Louisville City FC (USL Championship)
Lynn Family Stadium – Louisville, KY
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

Sean Totsch steps up to take the game-winning penalty kick in Louisville City's 1-0 win over Birmingham Legion in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Louisville City FC

Sean Totsch steps up to take the game-winning penalty kick in Louisville City’s 1-0 win over Birmingham Legion in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Louisville City FC

The Red Wolves travel north to Kentucky and a match against USL Championship Eastern Conference leading Louisville City FC. The home team has a record of 3-0-2, winning their first three games of the season and drawing their other two. Chattanooga opened their season this past weekend, and saw three points snatched away when Forward Madison found the equalizer five minutes into second half stoppage time for a 1-1 draw.

Chattanooga finished in the top three of the 2021 USL League One standings, then in the playoffs the Red Wolves won one extra time game (2-1 vs. North Texas SC) and lost another (2-0 vs. Greenville Triumph). Chattanooga have just one Open Cup game to their credit, a 3-0 upset loss to South Georgia Tormenta 2 of USL League Two in 2019.

A few notable players for the Red Wolves include Colombian forward Juan Galindrez, who had the opportunity to play under Diego Maradona at Dorados de Sinaloa, when the Argentine legend was in charge of the Mexican club from 2018-2019. The Red Wolves have also brought in Nicolas Cardona from Hartford Athletic to shore up their defense..

Louisville City came so close in the 2021 USL Championship season, finishing second in the Eastern Conference and dropped a thrilling 3-2 extra time affair to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Conference Finals. Cameron Lancaster, tied for third in USL-C last year with 20 goals, returns to lead the Lou City attack that finished second in all of the USL-C with 61 goals. Guarding the net will be USL veteran goalkeeper Kyle Morton, who spent 2021 on loan with Memphis 901 from the Houston Dynamo. Kyle’s brother Todd is also a goalkeeper, playing with Philadelphia Union II.

In its short Open Cup history, Louisville City has shown it is a force to be dealt with, having advanced to the Fourth Round twice (2015 & 2019), and reaching the Quarterfinals in 2018 after knocking off two MLS clubs (Nashville & New England).

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (USL League One)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-1-0
Away: 0-1-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: First Round (2019)

Louisville City FC (USL Championship)
6th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 9-5-1 (1-0 PKs)
Home: 6-0-1 (1-0 PKs)
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: Quarterfinals (2018)


Cleveland SC (NPSL) at Forward Madison FC (USL League One)
Breese Stevens Field – Madison, WI
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Cleveland SC claimed their first ever Open Cup win, defeating Chicago FC United two weeks ago in dramatic fashion. A dramatic 90th minute goal from Michael Derezic sent the game to extra time, where club veteran Vinny Bell scored the game-winner in the 107th minute.

Cleveland SC vs Chicago FC United 2022 US Open Cup

Cleveland SC’s Mikey Derezic celebrates his equalizer against Chicago FC United in their First Round match in the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: Luigi Musto

Cleveland SC’s 2022 US Open Cup appearance is the first by a Cleveland team since AFC Cleveland in 2017. Cleveland’s canceled 2020 NPSL season is sandwiched between a pair of first place finishes in their division, each ending in a loss in the NPSL playoffs at the National semifinal. The club was set to make their Open Cup debut in 2020 and then in 2021 before both tournaments were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Forward Madison’s only appearance in the Open Cup in 2019 provided some excitement for the future, as they defeated El Paso Locomotive of the USL Championship 3-0 before falling to another Saint Louis FC 3-1 in the next round. Forward Madison had a lackluster 2021 US League One campaign, finishing 8-8-12 and missing the playoffs.

Madison’s name and logo may sound a bit unusual, but each is rooted in local history. Forward comes from the state motto of Wisconsin, and the pink flamingo in their logo comes from a  1979 prank in which a pair of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison placed over 1,000 flamingo ornaments in the lawn in front of the university.

The cities of Madison and Cleveland have actually crossed paths in Open Cup play before. In the 1988 tournament, the Madison 56ers traveled to Cleveland to face the Croatian Rebels. The 56ers came away with a 3-2 win, but were eliminated in the next round by eventual champions Busch Seniors of St. Louis.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Cleveland SC (NPSL)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2022)

Forward Madison FC (USL League One)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 2-1-0
Home: 0-0-0
vs. Amateurs: 1-0-0
Best finish: Third Round (2019)


Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (USL League One) at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USL Championship)
Weidner Field – Colorado Springs, CO
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

Northern Colorado Hailstorm play their first ever game in this US Open Cup match, a highly unusual circumstance which is usually against tournament rules. Their opponents have won at least one game in all five USOC appearances. In their first two years (2015, 2016), they won two matches per competition but in the last three years, they’ve beaten an amateur team and then been eliminated in the next round.

Switchbacks enter the 2022 tournament red hot, with a Western Conference leading 4-0-0 record and only two goals conceded. Colorado Springs bring back the center their 61-goal attack in 2021, Hadji Barry, who scored 25 of those goals to lead all of USL-C. Adding to that attack will be Elvis Amoh, who led Rio Grande Valley in scoring in 2021. Between the posts will be Jeff Caldwell, a former United States Youth international who posted nine clean sheets last season with Hartford Athletic.

The first year Northern Colorado Hailstorm are guided by head coach Eamon Zayed, an native of Ireland who has represented the Libyan national team. Zayed had played in the USL since 2016, but his biggest claim to fame came with Iranian club Perseolis in 2012. Playing a man down against arch rivals Esteghlal, Zayed scored a hat trick in the final 10 minutes to give Persepolis a 3-2 win.

The center of the Hailstorm attack will be Irvin Parra, who began his career in Germany before moving to the U.S. to play with a number of USL clubs, most recently Charlotte Independence in 2021. The first ever signing for Northern Colorado was Irish veteran defender Robert Cornwall, who had appeared in 215 top flight matched in Ireland.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (USL League One)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USL Championship)
6th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 7-4-1 (0-1 PKs)
Home: 5-2-0
vs. Division 3: 2-0-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2015, 2016)


Las Vegas Lights FC (USL Championship) at FC Tucson (USL League One)
Kino North Stadium – Tucson, AZ
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

The Las Vegas Lights and their llamas pose for a team photo before their 2018 US Open Cup match against FC Tucson. Photo: L.E. Baskow | Las Vegas Lights

The Las Vegas Lights and their llamas pose for a team photo before their 2018 US Open Cup match against FC Tucson. Photo: L.E. Baskow | Las Vegas Lights

After five Open Cup appearances as an amateur team, FC Tucson returns to the Open Cup for the first time as a professional club. Despite joining the pro ranks in 2019 with USL League One, the club was ineligible due to being owned by the USL Championship’s Phoenix Rising, Since moving out from under the Phoenix Rising umbrella in February, Tucson are once again able to play in the Open Cup.

FC Tucson are looking for back to back playoff appearances in USL-1 after reaching the Semifinals of last year’s postseason. Returning for Tucson is midfielder Daniel Bedoya, a product of the New York Red Bulls youth system. In a bid to offset the loss of their top two goalscorers (Charlie Dennis & Shak Adams), 23-year-old Striker Franco Perez comes to Tucson on loan from Argentine club Aldovisi.

Las Vegas looks to recover from a dismal 2021 season, finishing last in the Western Conference of the USL Championship with a 6-23-3 record. Las Vegas have a pair of promising young players who have spent time with the Mexican youth teams. Goalkeeper Abraham Romero moves to Vegas after spending the 2021 season with Orange County. 17-year-old center back Tony Leone rejoins the club once again on loan from Los Angeles FC.

This will be the second straight Open Cup game Tucson has played against Las Vegas. As an amateur club in the PDL (USL League Two), FC Tucson lost to Las Vegas 4-2 in the Second Round of the 2018 edition. In Las Vegas’ short Open Cup history of four games, the club has never faced a professional opponent.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Las Vegas Lights FC (USL Championship)
3rd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 2-2-0
Away: 0-1-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: Third Round (2018, 2019)

FC Tucson (USL League One)
6th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 4-5-1 (1-0 PKs)
Home: 4-2-0
vs. Division 2: 0-2-1 (1-0 PKs)
Best finish: Third Round (2013 … as USL-2 team)


Valley United FC (NISA) at Phoenix Rising FC (USL Championship)
Phoenix Rising Stadium at Wild Horse Pass – Chandler, AZ
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

NISA newcomers Valley United travel to the more established Phoenix side. The visitors have begun their inaugural season 1-0-1 to lead the NISA West Division, While Phoenix is currently 2-2-0 in the Western Conference of the USL Championship.

Phoenix are looking to avenge a shocking end to their 2021 USL Championship season. Heading into the playoffs with a Western Conference leading 20-5-7 record, Phoenix were shocked in the opening round by Rio Grande Valley on penalties after a 3-3 draw.

Phoenix will sorely miss the departing Solomon Asante, a club legend who had scored 54 goals over 107 games in his career with Phoenix. Santi Moar, the club’s leading scorer from 2021 with 16 goals, returns to help continue Rising’s form as the top scoring team in USL-C. They also added more offensive punch by acquiring forward Claudio Repetto from Charleston. Repetto, who already has two goals for the team in league play, was the Battery’s Offensive Player of the Year, despite signing in the middle of the season. Phoenix has replaced goalkeeper Andre Rawls (returned to Colorado Rapids from loan) with Brent Lunt, 2020 USL-C Goalkeeper of the Year with Louisville City.

Rising has begun its season in an uneven fashion, dropping two straight games after an opening day victory. The club is opening a new stadium this season, in the Gila River Indian Community – having previously played in Peoria, Scottsdale and Tempe. Under the name Arizona United, they had reached the Fourth Round of the 2014 US Open Cup, beating Portland Timbers U-23s and OKC Energy before losing to LA Galaxy. In six overall USOC appearances, they have only beaten one professional team, falling 0-3-1 since.

Valley United FC are following the path of fellow NISA club Maryland Bobcats, making the transition from the amateur UPSL to the professional NISA, having previously been known at Atletico Olympians FC.

Valley United’s big signing is midfielder Luis Gil, who played 134 games with Real Salt Lake from 2010-2015. Gil recently spent three seasons playing in the Czech Republic before coming back to the United States. Valley United played Phoenix in a pre-season friendly in February, ending in a 5-0 win for Phoenix.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Valley United FC (NISA)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Phoenix Rising FC (USL Championship)
7th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 4-4-2 (0-2 PKs)
Home: 1-4-1 (0-1 PKs)
vs. Division 3: 1-1-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2014)


San Diego Loyal SC (USL Championship) at ALBION San Diego (NISA)
Canyon Crest Academy – San Diego, CA
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Supremacy in San Diego is on the line as the city’s two professional teams clash in the Second Round.

Albion are in their second Open Cup appearance overall, and their first as a professional club. Their Open Cup debut came as Albion SC Pro of the NPSL, which ended with a 3-2 loss to Chula Vista FC. After the 2021 season the NPSL team merged with San Diego 1904 FC of NISA. The team name was then changed to ALBION San Diego for the 2022 season.

Under new ownership, ALBION San Diego is now the top of a rather large youth soccer organization. Albion has a mix of former 1904 players, youth players and veterans from outside NISA. Midfielder Harold Hanson made 78 appearances for Portland Timbers 2, Eddie Benito returns from the 1904 roster and is seen as their most promising player.

San Diego Loyal are guided by United States national team legend Landon Donovan who will look to take his club back to the USL Championship playoffs after a 14-12-6 finish last season.

New signings for Loyal include former Northern Ireland international Kyle Vassell, who is making his first trip to the U.S. after playing 12 years for various lower level British clubs. Spanish goalkeeper Koke Vegas joins the club after many years on loan to other Spanish clubs from Levante. South African striker Tumi Moshobane returns after leading the team in goals in 2021 with 10.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

San Diego Loyal SC (USL Championship)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

ALBION San Diego (NISA)
2nd US Open Cup appearance (1st as pro team)
Overall: 0-1-0
Home: 0-1-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: First Round (2017)


Monterey Bay FC (USL Championship) at Bay Cities FC (NISA)
PayPal Park – San Jose, CA
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

A battle of two new clubs rounds out day two of this year’s Second Round

Bay Cities FC have started their inaugural NISA season with a pair of scoreless draws, while Monterey Bay are off to a 1-3-0 start in USL Championship play.

Perhaps Bay Cities biggest acquisition is center back Christian Dean, who had previously retired in 2018 but came back last season for the Charlotte Independence. Dean made a handful of appearances for Vancouver and Chicago in MLS from 2014-2018.

Monterey Bay’s first big signing was luring El Salvador international Walmer Martinez away from Hartford Athletic. The motivation for Martinez may not have been hard, as he is a native of nearby Santa Cruz, California. Another notable roster addition is Hugh Roberts, a USL Championship veteran with over 200 league appearances. Goalkeeper Dallas Jaye has represented Guam 20 times in his playing career.

Head coach Frank Yallop returns to the area, having previously served as general manager of Fresno FC in 2019. The former Canadian international served as caretaker manager for Las Vegas Lights in the abbreviated 2020 USL Championship season before returning to help get Monterey Bay started last season.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Monterey Bay FC (USL Championship)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Bay Cities FC (NISA)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Home: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Lansdowne Yonkers FC (USASA/EPSL) at Rochester New York FC (MLS Next Pro)
Monroe Community College – Rochester, NY
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

Rochester Rhinos 1999 US Open Cup champions

The Rochester Raging Rhinos celebrate their 1999 US Open Cup championship after defeating the Colorado Rapids 2-0 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH. Photo: Rochester Rhinos

Lansdowne Yonkers FC travels upstate to a town which saw its club win the entire tournament in 1999, the only non-MLS side to do so in the Modern Era. It is more than four years since there was a professional team in Rochester and in the intervening time, Lansdowne has made its own history – dispatching the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL Championship in their best Open Cup run in 2016. 

Lansdowne recently announced the signing of Greek veteran Georgios Samaras, who has appeared 81 times for Greece and logged 156 games with Celtic FC of Scotland between 2008 and 2014. Lansdowne , the defending National Amateur Cup champions, finished their most recent season in the EPSL at 8-3-1, with a third place finish.  

In the opening round Lansdowne battled USL League Two club Ocean City Nor’easters to a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes, and came out on top 4-3 in the penalty shootout.

2022 Meet the Underdogs: Lansdowne Yonkers FC

Rochester NY FC began their inaugural season in MLS Next Pro with a 2-0 loss, leaving them bottom of an extremely early Eastern Conference table. In a case of “what was old is new again” Rochester are the rebranded Rochester Rhinos, the only non-MLS team to win the Open Cup in the Modern Era (1995-present)

Shamir Mullings Lansdowne Yonkers FC 2022 US Open Cup

Shamir Mullings of Lansdowne Yonkers FC celebrates after his team’s 4-3 PK shootout win over the Ocean City Nor’easters in the First Round of the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: Matt Ralph | BrotherlyGame.com

The team has been on hiatus since 2018 due to financial difficulties, finally returning to play this season in MLS Next Pro. Rochester are the only independent club in the league, and if they remain so they’ll remain eligible to enter future Open Cup tournaments. RNYFC return for their 23rd Open Cup appearance, and in that time Rochester has played a remarkable 44 of their 62 Open Cup games at home, where they hold a 32-8-4 record. The club have never lost to an amateur side in 18 Open Cup games, although this isn’t the same club that roamed the USL for years.

Rochester, which has Leicester City star Jamie Vardy as part of the club’s ownership group, played its inaugural game of MLS Next Pro against St. Louis CITY 2, but went down in defeat 2-0. Rochester’s second game against New England Revolution II on April 3 also did not go well, a 3-1 defeat. The lone goal was scored by Dante Brigida.

American soccer’s greatest modern underdog story: Rochester Raging Rhinos win 1999 US Open Cup

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Lansdowne Yonkers FC (USASA/EPSL))
3rd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 3-2-1 (1-0 PKs)
Away: 3-2-1 (1-0 PKs)
vs. Division 3: 1-1-0
Best finish: Third Round (2016)

Rochester New York FC (MLS Next Pro)
23rd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 38-18-6 (3-3 PKs)
Home: 32-8-4 (2-2 PKs)
vs. Amateurs: 18-0-0
Best finish: Champions (1999)


Memphis 901 FC (USL Championship) at Chattanooga FC (NISA)
Finley Stadium – Chattanooga, TN
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Memphis 901 FC celebrates in the locker room after a 4-0 win over Hartford Athletic in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Memphis 901 FC

Memphis 901 FC celebrates in the locker room after a 4-0 win over Hartford Athletic in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Memphis 901 FC

The second ever Tennessee derby sees Memphis 901 FC of the USL Championship travel to face Chattanooga FC of NISA. The first clash of Tennessee teams in Open Cup play came in 2018, when the USL’s Nashville SC blanked Inter Nashville of the NPSL 2-0 in the Second Round.

Chattanooga FC’s Open Cup history began as an amateur club in the NPSL in 2011. After six appearances in the tournament their  last appearance was in 2017. In their amateur era, Chattanooga FC won the 2015 National Amateur Cup, and finished as runners-up in 2016. The team transitioned to the pro side and joined NISA in 2019. The team finished mid-table in the 2021 NISA season, but with juggernaut Detroit City moving to the USL Championship. This will be the club’s first Open Cup appearance as a professional team.

For the 2022 season Chattanooga has brought in a group of players from Chicago House AC and Stumptown AC, a pair of NISA clubs on hiatus this year. There have been rumors that Chattanooga is looking to move to MLS Next Pro in the future.

The only Open Cup appearance for Memphis in 2019 saw them host all three games they played, eventually losing to Orlando City SC 3-1 in the Fourth Round. Memphis lost two important players from last year in striker Kyle Murphy (20 goals in 2021) and defender Mark Segbers, both players going to Miami FC. Added to the roster are midfielder Devin Boyce from 2021 USL-1 champs Union Omaha, and David Egbo, a Nigerian forward on loan from the Vancouver Whitecaps. Memphis currently sit at 2-1-1 in the young USL Championship season.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Memphis 901 FC (USL Championship)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 2-1-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: Fourth Round (2019)

Chattanooga FC (NISA)
7th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-5-4 (3-1 PKs)
Home: 1-3-2 (2-0 PKs)
vs. Division 2: 0-2-0
Best finish: Third Round (2014, 2015, 2016)


Oakland Roots FC (USL Championship) at Greenville Triumph (USL League One)
Triumph Stadium at Legacy Early College – Greenville, SC
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Greenville Triumph head coach John Harkes gives a thumbs up before his club's Second Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup against the Charleston Battery. Photo: Greenville Triumph

Greenville Triumph head coach John Harkes gives a thumbs up before his club’s Second Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup against the Charleston Battery. Photo: Greenville Triumph

2021 USL League One runners-up Greenville Triumph welcome Oakland Roots FC in what is easily the longest trip of this year’s Open Cup so far. Oakland are making their Open Cup debut and are traveling over 2,600 miles to do it.

Greenville just barely has more Open Cup experience than Oakland, having played two games in the 2019 tournament, a 1-0 win over South Georgia Tormenta of USL-1, and a 2-1 loss to the Charleston Battery.

Led by U.S. national team legend John Harkes on the sidelines, Greenville will look to continue the success they’ve seen in their first three seasons in USL League One. The club has reached the USL League One championship game in each of its first three years of existence, winning the 2020 league title. One member of that championship team, forward Jake Keegan, returns for 2022. Keegan spent 2021 with league rivals Forward Madison.

Making their debut in USL-C after moving from NISA, Oakland got off to a rough start in 2021, losing eight of their first 12 league games. The team then picked up and powered their way to a playoff spot and a opening round 1-0 upset of El Paso Locomotive.

Oakland added Polish striker Dariusz Formella, who had played with Sacramento Republic the previous three seasons, as well as the Polish youth national teams. Anchoring the defense is USL Championship veteran Emrah Klimenta, who has made 161 appearances in the league since 2014. Oakland are threatening to repeat their 2021 league start, currently sitting near the bottom of the standings at 0-2-3.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Oakland Roots FC (USL Championship)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A

Greenville Triumph SC (USL League One)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-1-0
Home: 1-1-0
vs. Division 2: 0-1-0
Best finish: Second Round (2019)


Oyster Bay United (USASA/UPSL) at Hartford Athletic (USL Championship)
Dillon Stadium – Hartford, CT
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Oyster Bay United return to Dillon Stadium in Hartford for the second round, the place they upended Hartford City of the NPSL 3-0 in the opening round. First half goals from Junior Rosero, Franco Paz and Sevastian Ruiz gave the amateurs a chance to knock off the professional club from Hartford.

On their way to qualifying for the 2022 tournament, Oyster Bay took victories over a pair of clubs with deep Open Cup history last fall. First was a victory in a penalty kick shootout over four time Open Cup winners NY Greek American SC after a scoreless draw. In the following round, Oyster Bay prevailed 2-0 over three time cup winners New York Pancyprian Freedoms. They punched their first trip to the tournament with a 4-1 road win over Westchester United of the UPSL.

2022 MEET THE UNDERDOGS: OYSTER BAY UNITED FC

Hartford Athletic’s Open Cup history is limited to the 2019 tournament, beating the New York Cosmos 2-1 before falling to leaguemate Memphis 901 FC 4-0 in the Third Round. Hartford’s 2021 season left them at mid table of the Eastern Conference at 12-15-5, missing out on a playoff spot.

Midfielder Danny Barrera, who led all of USL-C last season with 12 assists, returns to Hartford for 2022. Barrera was one of the key players in amateur side Cal FC’s memorable 2012 run that saw them upset the Portland Timbers FC on the road. Barrera was named TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament that year. Connecticut native Rashawn Dally returns home, having spent last season with Memphis 901, and playing early in his career with AC Connecticut (USL-2) and Hartford City. Hartford are off to a slow 0-2-1 start to the new season.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Oyster Bay United (USASA/UPSL)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-0-0
Away: 1-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2022)

Hartford Athletic (USL Championship)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-1-0
Home: 1-0-0
vs. Amateurs: 1-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2019)


Southern States SC Stars (NPSL) at Birmingham Legion FC (USL Championship)
Univ. of Alabama Soccer Stadium – Tuscaloosa, AL
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Eddie Opoku of the Birmingham Legion plays the ball against West Chester United in the Second Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Birmingham Legion

Eddie Opoku of the Birmingham Legion plays the ball against West Chester United in the Second Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Birmingham Legion

Birmingham has gotten off to a sluggish start to the 2022 USL Championship season. Through three games the club had managed just a 1-1 draw with Tampa Bay in their season opener. The club lost a lot of scoring power in the offseason, as the departing Nico Brett, Junior Flemmings and JJ Williams accounted for 29 of the club’s 50 goals in the 2021 season. The Legion will hope new signing Macky Diop will help recoup some of those lost goals. The Senegalese forward spent time in previous seasons with New York Red Bulls U-23s and Atlanta United II.

Birmingham just recently made headlines with their signing of former New England Revolution and United States striker Juan Agudelo. After four seasons with the Revs, Agudelo spent a season each with Inter Miami and Minnesota United in 2020 & 21

Birmingham’s only other Open Cup appearance in 2019 resulted in the first time in Open Cup history a team from Alabama won a tournament game, a 4-1 victory over West Chester United in the Second Round. The Legion are guided by veteran manager Tom Soehn, who is beginning his fourth season with the club. Soehn won the 2008 US Open Cup during his three seasons in charge of the club, and also spent time as interim manager with New England and Vancouver. Among all the head coaches of the Modern Era (1995-present), Soehn ranks third in win percentage (0.727), behind Dave Sarachan (0.789) and Scott Schweitzer (0.750). 

Southern States SC Stars began play in the NPSL in the 2021 season, finishing with a 9-4-1 record, reaching the regional finals of the NPSL playoffs. Southern States are just the third team from Mississippi to play in the Open Cup since 1995. The others are the Jackson Chargers (‘98) and Mississippi Brilla (‘09, ‘12, ‘16 & ‘18). We could have had two Mississippi teams in the same tournament for the first time in tournament history, but despite qualifying for this year’s Open Cup through their USL League Two results, Brilla declined to enter.

In the club’s first ever Open Cup appearance, Southern States SC Stars defeated the NPSL’s Georgia Revolution 3-1 in the opening round two weeks ago. Thomas Shepherd, who had recently completed his college playing career at Cal St.-Bakersfield, broke open a 1-1 tie with a pair of second half goals.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Southern States SC Stars (NPSL)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 2: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2022)

Birmingham Legion FC (USL Championship)
2nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-1-0
Home: 0-1-0
vs. Amateurs: 1-0-0
Best finish: Third Round (2019)


San Fernando Valley FC (USASA/UPSL) at California United Strikers FC (NISA)
Orange County Great Park (Championship Stadium) – Irvine, CA
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Tim Abbott

 

Tomas Bosuel San Fernando Valley FC, Escondido FC, 2022 US Open Cupof San Fernando Valley FC celebrates after scoring a goal against Escondido FC in the FIrst Round of the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: Joe Walsh

Tomas Bosuel of San Fernando Valley FC celebrates after scoring a goal against Escondido FC in the First Round of the 2022 US Open Cup. Photo: Joe Walsh

San Fernando Valley thumped Escondido 6-2 to line up a shot at the pro California United Strikers and will travel to Orange County full of hope. Tomas Bosuel led the way with a hat-trick and two assists in the rout. He is the only player from the First Round to score three goals.

Cal United have played two scoreless draws in the young NISA season, against Valley United and Bay Cities FC

San Fernando Valley FC earned their first tournament berth with a pair of 2-1 wins over SC Trojans and UPSL rivals, Capo FC. Escondido were gifted a free pass in their second match when Desert Communities SC Pathfinders withdrew. The win over Capo FC of the Southwest Premier League punched their ticket to the US Open Cup. SFVFC are the first team from the San Fernando Valley to qualify since 1995 when the San Fernando Valley Golden Eagles of USISL Pro lost their opening round game. San Fernando Valley will look to established goalscorer Cristo Deras to help lead the attack. Deras helped lead the team to promotion from the SoCal North-Division I this past fall, the team’s first season in the UPSL’s top tier.

2022 Meet the Underdogs: San Fernando Valley FC

The Strikers roster looks about the same as last year, which bodes well for the club as that roster resulted in a second place finish in the NISA Fall Season in 2021. Forwards Omar Nuno and Christian Thierjung combined for 16 goals and 5 assists in 2021. The team also acquired promising midfielder Luis Garcia Sosa from Stumptown AC, who is on hiatus for 2022.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

San Fernando Valley FC (USASA/UPSL)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 1-0-0
Away: 0-0-0
vs. Division 3: 0-0-0
Best finish: Second Round (2022)

California United Strikers FC (NISA)
1st US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 0-0-0
Home: 0-0-0
vs. Amateurs: 0-0-0
Best finish: N/A


Portland Timbers U23 (USL League Two) at Sacramento Republic FC (USL Championship)
Heart Health Park – Sacramento, CA
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+

By Chuck Nolan Jr.

Stefano Bonomo of the Sacramento Republic celebrates his game-winning goal with his teammates in the club's Third Round match against Fresno FC in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Sacramento Republic

Stefano Bonomo of the Sacramento Republic celebrates his game-winning goal with his teammates in the club’s Third Round match against Fresno FC in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Sacramento Republic

The Portland Timbers U-23s opened their sixth Open Cup tournament with a 2-1 win over Contra Costa FC of the NPSL. Second half goals from Thomas Peterson and Eduardo Sanchez enabled the Timbers youngsters to withstand a stoppage time goal from Contra Costa’s Roberto Gonzalez.

Last season, the Timbers ran away with the Mountain Division in the Western Conference. With a 10-1-1 record, they qualified for the postseason and reached the national semifinals before bowing out to the Des Moines Menace, the eventual champions. Due to NCAA restrictions the Timbers U-23s are going with players that were a part of the USL Academy Championship team last May, as opposed to the college players which make up their regular season squad.

In the Timbers U-23s way are one of the new wave of USL Open Cup behemoths, the Sacramento Republic. Sacramento are nearly unbeaten at home in the Open Cup, carrying a 12-1-0 record with an active seven-game home winning streak dating back to 2017, the longest current streak of its kind.

Sacramento has gone as deep as the Fifth Round on two occasions (2017, 2018). Each time they knocked off MLS opposition, 3-1 over Real Salt Lake in 2017, and a 2-1 extra time win over Seattle in 2018. Meanwhile the Timbers U-23s are 0-3 all-time against professional teams in the Open Cup.

Sacramento are recovering from a disappointing 2021 season, finishing 8-12-12, the first time in its nine-year history they failed to reach the playoffs. Sacramento’s roster going into 2022 looks nothing like the previous year, as only five players are returning. Filling out the new roster is goalkeeper Danny Vitiello, 2020 Golden Glove winner with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Damia Vlader, 2021 USL League One Defender of the Year with Union Omaha, and Spanish winger Keko, who has spent time with many clubs in Spain, most recently Deportivo La Coruna. The new roster seems to be working early on, as Sacramento holds a 3-1-0 record so far in the 2022 season.

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Portland Timbers U-23s (USL-2)
6th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 3-5-0
Away: 3-4-0
vs. Division 2: 0-1-0
Best finish: Second Round (2013, 2018, 2022)

Sacramento Republic FC (USL Championship)
7th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 13-5-1 (0-1 PKs)
Home: 12-1-0
vs. Amateurs: 7-1-0
Best finish: Fifth Round (2017, 2018)





Source link

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.