The 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup will feature 8 NPSL clubs: Georgia Revolution and FC Hasental will each feature in a play in match while FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic, Brooklyn Italians, Chattanooga FC, New York Red Bulls U23′s, Madison 56ers, and Sacramento Gold will enter in the 1st round. Here is the draw:
Georgia Revolution @ Colorado Rovers (USSSA): Georgia Revolution qualify for their second consecutive tournament and will be forced to travel to Colorado for a play in match to decide who will face the Real Colorado Foxes (PDL) in the first round. Last year the Revolution knocked off PDL club Mississippi Brilla 1-0 in the first round before falling to the Atlanta Silverback’s of the NASL 0-1 in a closely contested match. The Rovers have the distinction of being the first United States Specialty Sports Association club to enter the Open Cup after winning a 16 team play-in tournament.
FC Hasental @ Fresno Fire Future (US Club Soccer): FC Hasental feature in their first Open Cup after winning the NPSL West Region qualifying tournament this spring. Fresno Fire Future, according to TheCup.us are the US Club Soccer side of the better known PDL Fresno Fire. The winner of the play in match will travel to play Ventura County Fusion (PDL) who advanced to the third round last year after defeating NPSL’s Fullerton Rangers (now OC Pateadores) and USL Pro side LA Blues in the first and second rounds respectively before falling 1-0 to Chivas USA.
FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic @ Reading United AC (PDL): FC LVU Sonic enters the competition for a second consecutive time, only this year with the distinction of being the reigning NPSL champion. FC Sonic will hope to improve on last year’s first round loss to the Long Island Rough Riders of the PDL. Reading United are entering the competition for a 5th consecutive time. Last year they defeated NY Greek American Atlas before losing 2-1 to the Charleston Battery (USL Pro).
Icon FC (USASA) @ Brooklyn Italians: Two time Open Cup champions Brooklyn Italians will host first time entrants Icon FC of New Jersey. Last year Brooklyn defeated MPS Portland Phoenix (PDL) 3-2 in the first round before losing 0-3 to the Rochester Rhino’s (USL Pro) in the second round. Brooklyn is the only NPSL club to be hosting in the first round draw, a fact which seems suspicious in light of US Soccer’s announcement that all draws would be decided by coin toss. Statistically, this is highly unlikely. Assuming a fair coin and a total of 8 coin flips, the probability of occurrence for flipping 7 heads and 1 tails is as follows:
In other words, at approximately 3.125% this occurrence is not very likely.
Chattanooga FC @ Carolina Dynamo: Chattanooga FC return to the Cup after missing out on the 2012 addition. Chattanooga has seen great success at the NPSL level and has arguably the best (and certainly the largest) supporters of any amateur club in the country. Carolina Dynamo lost in the PDL championship to Forest City London 2-1 last year but also lost to the Agean Hawks 3-1 in last year’s Open Cup. This match-up has the potential to be one of the round’s most exciting.
New York Red Bulls U23′s @ Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL): The Red Bulls U23′s are in the tournament for the first time after a great NPSL performance last year. They will face an Ocean City club with past Open cup experience, though not since 2009. This will be another interesting match that will pit the NPSL against the PDL with implications being drawn on the quality of each league.
Madison 56ers @ Des Moines Menace (PDL): The 56ers will travel to Des Moines hoping for a different result than fellow Wisconsin NPSL club Milwaukee Bavarians achieved last year (a 3-1 loss). Both these teams boast long club histories, and neither are newcomers to the Open Cup competition. The Menace always put together a quality event, and the 56ers will not want to disappoint.
Sacramento Gold @ Portland Timbers U23′s (PDL): Sacramento enters the Cup for the first time as the other NPSL West Region tournament qualifier. They blitzed opponents by a combined margin of 10-1 and will hope that success carries over against a tough Portland team. Portland is famous for its supporter culture, and playing this match at JELD-WEN Field is sure to be a boost to the home side who will be anxious to do better than their 3-1 defeat last year at the hands of USASA’s PSA Elite.
With the exception of the Georgia Revolution v Colorado Rovers play-in match, the first round draw features some great regional cross league matches that can hopefully turn into budding regional rivalries. And despite the suspicious number of away venue draws for NPSL clubs, this years tournament is a great opportunity for the league to give a good account of itself and raise the stature of its quality in the eyes of the US soccer community. For more Open Cup information and a complete first round preview check out TheCup.us.
*Many of the statistics draw from TheCup.us and I would be remiss not to credit Josh Hakala (@joshhakala) in any piece about the US Open Cup.