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Source: 2013 US Open Cup to feature 16 Premier Development League teams

Posted by | January 14, 2012 | 3 Comments

PDL logoThis was confirmed this yAccording to sources at the United Soccer Leagues’ annual general meeting in Tampa, Fla., the Premier Development League will have 16 entries into the 2013 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the second consecutive year.

Last year the US Soccer Federation expanded the Open Cup field to include all US-based Major League Soccer teams and increased the number of amateur teams to a Modern Pro Era-record 32. The upcoming tournament, the 100th consecutive running of the Open Cup, appears to be following a similar format, but the official announcement is yet to be made.

With the date of the 2013 tournament expected to be earlier for the second year in a row, the PDL has decided to base their entries on the previous season’s results once again. The official announcement came nearly a year ago exactly with two berths, with one exception, going to each division.

A dozen clubs are making a return appearance in the event, including 10 that were in the tournament this past year. Four sides will be making their US Open Cup debuts in 2013. The foursome is comprised of the River City Rovers, Ocala Stampede, FC Tucson and Seattle Sounders U-23s.

According to sources, here are the teams that will be taking part in the 2013 US Open Cup (we will be updating with brief summaries of each team’s tournament history):

Central Conference

Michigan Bucks
1st place in Great Lakes Division (13-1-2)
Record 10th appearance, 2nd straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 12-8-1 (0-1 in PKs)
Last appearance: 2012

The Bucks will make their record 10th appearance in the US Open Cup and are the league’s most successful team in the tournament. With a record 12 Open Cup wins, 9 of them against professional opponents, they bring the strongest resume of any amateur team in the country. Last year, they bolstered their reputation as giant killers with their second win in franchise history over a Major League Soccer team, defeating the Chicago Fire 3-2 in extra time. Combined with their 1-0 road win over the New England Revolution in 2000, they are the only amateur team to defeat multiple MLS teams.

Last year, the Michigan Bucks upset Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire 3-2 in extra time indoors at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich.

Last year, they crushed Jersey Shore Boca (USASA) 6-0, before upsetting the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL Pro) 1-0 on the road in Round 2. In the Third Round they defeated the Chicago Fire at home in just the fourth Open Cup game in history to be played indoors.  In Round 4, their Cinderella story came to an end in front of their home fans (this time outdoors at Oakland University) by another unlikely team, the USL Pro’s Dayton Dutch Lions who converted a penalty kick in extra time to win the game 2-1.

River City Rovers
3rd place in the Great Lakes Division (7-7-2)
1st appearance in the US Open Cup

The Louisville, Kentucky-based River City Rovers have qualified for the tournament for the first time, benefiting from the fact that Forest City London, the team who finished in second place in the division, are Canadian and are not eligible for the Open Cup. Forest City finished with a 7-5-4 record, two points ahead of River City, and made an improbably run through the PDL playoffs to win the championship. River City had a chance to overtake Forest City for the last playoff spot, but they lost their season finale to the Michigan Bucks 4-0.

River City becomes the first Kentucky-based club since 1993 to qualify for the Open Cup. That year, the Louisville Alliance reached the Regional Semifinals before falling to Milwaukee’s Bavarian SC, 2-0.

Real Colorado Foxes
2nd place in the Heartland Division (8-4-4)
3rd appearance in the US Open Cup, 3rd straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 1-2-0
Last appearance: 2012

The Real Colorado Foxes (no relationship with the Colorado Foxes who took part in the 1995 US Open Cup), have qualified for the third year in a row as the second place team in the Heartland Division (Division champion Thunder Bay Chill are from Canada). The Foxes won their first-ever tournament game in 2011 when they defeated USASA’s DV8 Defenders from San Jose, Calif. 5-0. Then after being eliminated by fellow PDL side Kitsap Pumas the next round, they suffered another defeat at the hands of an amateur team, losing 3-1 to the KC Athletics (USASA) at home.

Des Moines Menace
3rd place in the Heartland Division (8-5-3)
7th appearance in the US Open Cup , 2nd straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 7-6-1 (1-0 in PKs)
Last appearance: 2012The Des Moines Menace are back in the competition for the second year in a row, making their seventh all-time appearance. Only the Michigan Bucks (10) have qualified for the Open Cup more times among PDL teams. They enter the tournament as a 3rd place team because the Heartland Division champion, Thunder Bay Chill, are based in Canada.

Aside from their consistent success in the league, the Menace are best known for their back-to-back cup runs in 2005 and 2006 when they four professional teams in two years, only to fall to the Kansas City Wizards (Sporting Kansas City) both years on the road. Last year, they picked up their first Open Cup victory since 2006 with a 3-1 extra time road win over the NPSL’s Milwaukee Bavarians, only to fall to the NASL’s (2nd Division) Minnesota Stars 2-0 in Round 2. The Menace are tied with the Ocean City Nor’easters for second place among PDL teams with 4 professional team upsets (Michigan Bucks have 9). According to records, the Menace are the only Iowa-based team (aside from the Iowa Menace who qualified out of the USASA in 2011) to qualify for the US Open Cup in the Modern Professional Era, and even before that, there are no records of any Iowa team qualifying (records incomplete).

Eastern Conference

Ocean City Nor’easters
1st place in the Mid-Atlantic Division (13-3-0)
6th appearance in the US Open Cup (5th as PDL)
All-time Open Cup record: 7-5-0 (6-4-0 as PDL)
Last appearance: 2009

The Nor’easters are back in the tournament as another PDL team with a giant killer reputation. This is their first appearance since 2009, when they defeated two Division 3 professional teams to reach the Third Round where they lost a close 2-0 decision to Major League Soccer’s DC United on the road. Only the Michigan Bucks (12) and the Des Moines Menace (7) have more Open Cup wins as a PDL team than the Nor’easters (6), who were known as the Barons the last time they entered the competition. The Bucks are also the only team with more professional team upsets in the tournament (9) than the Nor’easters (4). Ocean City ranks right near the top along with the Menace and the Bucks as one of the best teams in the PDL, and are back in the Open Cup thanks to last season’s division title, their first since 2004. Despite only winning two division titles since they joined the league back in 2003, they are 87-40-37, which is the sixth best record during that span. The Nor’easters qualified as the team in the Eastern Conference with the best record (13-3-0).

Reading United AC
2nd place in the Mid-Atlantic Division (11-2-3)
7th appearance in the US Open Cup (5th as PDL), record 5th straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 1-6-0 (1-4-0 as PDL)
Last appearance: 2012

For the first time in the Modern Professional Era, an amateur team will be making their fifth straight appearance in the US Open Cup. Reading United will attempt to put the past behind them, as the tournament has not been kind to United. Last year’s 2-1 home win over four-time Open Cup champion New York Greek American Atlas, was their first tournament win in franchise history. They would lose in the next round, 2-1 to the Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium. Reading has their friendly rivals, Ocean City, to thank for keeping their streak alive. The Nor’easters, by virtue of finishing with the Eastern Conference’s best record, earned a berth, leaving the second place team, Reading, as the Mid-Atlantic’s representative.

GPS Portland Phoenix
2nd place in Northeast Division (10-4-2)
2nd appearance in the US Open Cup, 2nd straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 0-1-0
Last appearance: 2012

In just their fourth season in the PDL, GPS Portland Phoenix will make their second straight appearance in the US Open Cup, finishing behind the Canadian-based Ottawa Fury in the Northeast Division. The Phoenix had a chance to win the division, but they finished scoreless against Seacoast United when they needed a win to overtake the Fury. Last year, Portland lost their first-ever Open Cup game 3-2 to the Brooklyn Italians of the USASA. They found themselves behind 3-0 until Blaike Woodruff scored a pair of late goals but it wasn’t enough as the they fell to the two-time tournament champions.

Carolina Dynamo
1st place in the South Atlantic Division (11-1-4)
10th appearance in the US Open Cup (5th as PDL), 3rd straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 10-9-0 (5-4-0 as PDL)
Last appearance: 2012

The Carolina Dynamo with their rich history dating back to 1993, will make their 10th appearance in the tournament this year, and their 5th as a PDL side. This is the third year in a row for the Dynamo as they will attempt to avoid their third straight one-and-done. Last year, they were eliminated by the Aegean Hawks from the DC-area 3-1. It was an impressive year for the Dynamo in the league as they only lost one game (11-1-4), and made a playoff run that took them all the way to the championship game, where they lost 2-1 to Forest City London. They will try to re-live their glory days this year, with their greatest moment coming in 2006 when they upset the Richmond Kickers (Div. 3) and the Seattle Sounders (Div. 2) to become the third PDL team (now there have been four) to advance beyond the Third Round. They would eventually fall in the ‘Battle of the Dynamo’, losing 4-2 to Houston of MLS in Round 4.

Laredo Heat
1st place in the Mid South Division (10-3-3)
3rd appearance in the US Open Cup, 2nd straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 1-1-1 (0-1 in PKs)
Last appearance: 2012

The Laredo Heat are back in the Open Cup for a second straight year, and just the third time in franchise history. Three trips to the tournament in a decade is a surprising number for one of the best teams in the PDL. The 2007 league champion, and a three-time runner-up, the Heat qualified for the Open Cup for the first time back in 2006 when they nearly eliminated Dallas Roma FC in the first round before Roma began their historic run to the Fourth Round. Last year, the Heat returned, winning their first-ever Open Cup game, 4-2 over fellow Texas amateur club ASC New Stars (USASA) in extra time.  They hit the road in Round 2 and lost 2-0 to the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions. This is a PDL team that has qualified for the league playoffs nine years in a row, and have only failed to qualify once, during their inaugural season in 2004. Single-elimination tournaments are nothing new to them, so this tournament could suit them well.

Austin Aztex
2nd place in the Mid South Division (9-5-2)
2nd appearance in the US Open Cup
All-time Open Cup record: 0-0-1 (0-1 in PKs)
Last appearance: 2008

After starting as a PDL franchise in 2008 (and qualifying for the US Open Cup), the Austin Aztex launched a professional team the following year and made two more Open Cup appearances. The franchise was moved to Orlando to form Orlando City SC, but in 2012, the Aztex franchise was revived in Austin as a PDL franchise. Their first season back was a successful one, finishing in second place behind the Laredo Heat. The only Open Cup game the Aztex PDL team played was in 2008 when they took the Atlanta Silverbacks (Div. 2) to penalty kicks, but lost the shootout 5-4.

Ocala Stampede
1st place in the Southeast Division (11-3-2)
1st appearance in the US Open Cup
All-time Open Cup record: N/A
Last appearance: N/A

The Stampede are one of four clubs who are taking part in their first Open Cup as they were an overwhelming success in their inaugural season in the PDL. Ocala, which is located in Central Florida, just northwest of Orlando, won the Southeast Division title with an 11-3-2 record, which was the best record in the conference. They will join the nearby Orlando City U-23s in the tournament.

Orlando City U-23s
2nd place in the Southeast Division (8-3-5)
6th appearance in the US Open Cup, 4th straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 0-5-0
Last appearance: 2012

Orlando City U-23s are back for their fourth straight Open Cup appearance and their sixth overall berth. In 2013, they will attempt to do something the previous five teams editions of the club have failed to do: win a game. Last year was the first year under the current team name. Prior to that, they were known as the Central Florida Kraze and made four trips to the competition before the team was bought by Orlando City after the 2011 season. Last year, they fell to Jacksonville United 2-1 after letting a 1-0 lead in the second half slip away. Jacksonville was awarded an 82nd minute penalty kick and then scored the game-winner in the 89th minute to seal Orlando’s doom.

Seattle Sounders U-23s
1st place in the Northwest Division (11-2-3)
1st appearance in the US Open Cup
All-time Open Cup record: N/A
Last appearance: N/A

No matter what they are called, the Seattle Sounders U-23s are making their first Open Cup appearance in franchise history. The club was originally known as Tacoma FC, but never qualified from 2006-2011. Last year, the team re-branded as the Seattle Sounders U-23s and enjoyed immediate success. They won the Northwest Division championship and reached the final four in the PDL playoffs.

Portland Timbers U-23s
2nd place in the Northwest Division (10-4-2)
2nd appearance in the US Open Cup, 2nd straight appearance
All-time Open Cup record: 0-1-0
Last appearance: 2012

After enjoying success in their first three years as a PDL franchise, including the 2010 league championship, the Portland Timbers U-23s qualified for the US Open Cup for the first time last year. They lost their first game to a USASA side, PSA Elite, 3-1 in front of their home fans, but they will have a chance to redeem themselves with their second straight berth in 2013.

Ventura County Fusion
1st place in the Southwest Division (12-2-2)
4th appearance in the US Open Cup (4th straight)
All-time Open Cup record: 3-2-1 (0-1 in PKs)
Last appearance: 2012

The Ventura County Fusion qualified for the Open Cup for the first time back in 2010 and were one-and-done to the USASA’s Arizona Sahuaros. Each year after that, they have improved on the previous year’s performance. In 2011, they won a single game before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Blues (USL Pro). Last year, they won two games, including a revenge win over the Blues in Round 2. They nearly knocked off an MLS team, but were unable to overcome an early goal by Chivas USA, and lost 1-0. If the pattern continues, will the Fusion reach Round 4 this year?

FC Tucson
2nd place in the Southwest Division (9-3-4)
1st appearance in the US Open Cup
All-time Open Cup record: N/A
Last appearance: N/A

FC Tucson became another first-year team to punch their ticket to the Open Cup after a successful inaugural season. They edged out the Fresno Fuego for second place and will be the first Arizona-based club to reach the tournament since the Arizona Sahuaros took part in 2010.


  • Jeremy says:

    Will NPSL teams be eligible for the 2013 cup??

  • Can’t think of a reason why they wouldn’t. I know US Club Soccer is continuing to work on getting spots in the tournament. And I’m sure NPSL will lobby to get as many teams as they can. I think the team distribution is about right the way it is. I would imagine the format will largely stay the same, but that’s just me speculating.

  • T. A. Simeria says:

    I believe the NPSL will have 5 automatic berths for 2013. I remember that report some months ago, but I need to check back to be sure.

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