Photo: Bob Larson
The 14 amateur remaining teams in the 2016 US Open Cup qualifying tournament received an email on Feb. 2 from the US Soccer Federation to inform them that they have punched their ticket to the 102nd edition of the tournament.
Harpo’s FC from Boulder, Colo. and San Francisco City FC had already received byes into the tournament, leaving the remaining 12 clubs scheduled to play games the weekend of April 2-3. The winners of those six games were set to join Harpo’s FC and San Francisco City in the tournament proper. But then the following email arrived:
We have recently been informed by one of the leagues in the professional division that their number of participating teams in the 2016 U.S. Open Cup will be reduced. Therefore, the Third Qualifying Round, which was set to take place April 2-3, is now eliminated due to the expansion of berths for Open Division teams. Teams from local qualifying have been awarded six new slots, allowing all 14 teams still alive in this qualifying track to be placed directly into the First Round of the 2016 U.S. Open Cup. Congratulations, you are in the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The professional division referenced in the email is not yet known, but it is likely tied to the federation’s recent confirmation that the United Soccer League teams owned by Major League Soccer clubs would not be allowed to compete in the tournament. This decision removed eight potential teams from the upcoming US Open Cup.
Of the 14 amateur teams that have now qualified for the Open Cup, 10 of them will be making their first-ever appearance in the tournament.
The official format for the 2016 US Open Cup has not yet been announced. The First Round is scheduled to take place on May 11.
According to the email, the following 14 teams have qualified for the 2016 tournament:
Aromas Cafe FC (DC/VA, USASA)
The Charlottesville, Va.-based Aromas Cafe picked up a pair of 3-1 home wins to earn their first-ever US Open Cup berth. First, they hosted the Tartan Devils Oak Avalon from the Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League on Oct. 17, followed by another home win over three-time US Open Cup qualifying Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC, who are based in Maryland. ACFC becomes the first Virginia-based club to qualify for the Open Cup since Mo’s Sport Shop (McLean, Va.) in 1996.
Boca Raton FC (FL, USASA)
Boca Raton FC are the defending champions of the Florida-based American Premier Soccer League (APSL) and had to defeat a pair of fellow APSL teams to qualify for the tournament for the first time. After a 2-1 win over Real Miami CF on Oct. 25, they needed penalty kicks to get past Uruguay Kendall on Nov. 22. After a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes, the match was decided from the penalty spot and Boca Raton was victorious by a score of 5-4.
CD Motagua of New Orleans (LA, USASA)
CD Motagua have made multiple attempts at qualifying for the US Open Cup in recent years, but after falling short in 2013 and 2015, the third time has proven to be the charm. They only had to win one game to do it after they got a free pass into the second round after Tobacco Road FC forfeited after they couldn’t make the trip from Chapel Hill, NC to the Crescent City. In Round 2, they earned a 5-2 home win over Queen City United FC from Charlotte, N.C. to reach the final round.
They become the first amateur team from Louisiana to qualify for the US Open Cup in the Modern Era (1995-present). The only Louisiana team of any kind that has played in the competition since 1995 was the A-League’s New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers, led by a young Trinidadian forward named Stern John. CD Motagua, named after the Honduran professional team of the same name, competes in the Louisiana Premier League and won the league’s inaugural championship in 2014.
Harpo’s FC (CO, USSSA)
Boulder pub side Harpo’s FC have qualified for the tournament for the second year in a row. Last year, they eliminated the KC Athletics (USASA) and the PDL’s BYU Cougars before falling just short against the USL’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks, 2-1. In this year’s qualifying tournament, Harpo’s handled Colorado Rovers pretty easily, winning 4-1 in Round 1, before beating the Colorado Rush 3-1 to advance to the final round. Due to the number of teams remaining and their remote location, the USSF awarded them a bye into the tournament. This is the fourth year that the USSSA has had a representative in the Open Cup. In 2013 and 2014, the Colorado Rovers qualified, but were eliminated in their opening matches both years.
La Maquina (South CA, USASA)
La Maquina will make their first appearance in the US Open Cup after a successful league season and a pair of qualifying wins over fellow Southern California opponents. They reached the United Premier Soccer League playoffs, but fell to eventual champion San Nicolas in the quarterfinals. They began their Open Cup qualifying journey with a 3-2 win over fellow UPSL side Strikers FC South Coast and followed that up with a stunning 4-0 win over one of last year’s Open Cup cinderella stories, Chula Vista FC. The win was especially surprising considering the club was missing four starters. Edgar Orozco dished out three assists, including two of them to former Chivas de Guadalajara player Edwin Borboa.
Lansdowne Bhoys FC (East NY, USASA)
Founded in 1997, the Lansdowne Bhoys have quickly joined the elite teams in the fabled Cosmopolitan League in New York City. The Bhoys are the reigning USASA Region I Amateur Cup champions and did not allow a goal in their two qualifying matches. After picking up a 3-0 win over Newtown Pride FC from Connecticut, they moved on to a 5-0 win over Worcester FC from Massachusetts in Round 2.
LA Wolves FC (South CA, USASA)
The LA Wolves, who fell one game short of winning a UPSL championship in league play, opened the qualifying tournament with a 2-1 win over fellow UPSL side Del Rey City FC. However, it was their Round 2 match that would earn them the most attention. The Wolves moved on to face Cal FC, the team known best for their 2012 US Open Cup upset of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, and denied them a return trip to the tournament with a 2-1 win. The Wolves got a pair of first half goals from Sam Higgins and after Cal FC pulled one back with 15 minutes left, LA held on for the win.
New York Pancyprian Freedoms (East NY, USASA)
The Freedoms have won the US Open Cup three times in the 1980s, lifting the trophy in 1980, 1982, and 1983. They have qualified five times (once as a PDL team, once as a pro team, and three times as an amateur side) in the Modern Era, but will now return to the tournament for the first time since 2011. It was not an easy path to put themselves into position to qualify for their sixth Modern Era berth. They had to defeat four-time US Open Cup champion New York Greek American Atlas 4-2 in the opening round before eliminating the last New Jersey representative in Jersey Shore Boca, 2-1, on Nov. 14.
North Texas Rayados (North TX, USASA)
The Rayados will be making its fifth straight appearance in the US Open Cup, which sets a new Modern Era record for USASA clubs, breaking the record held by PSA Elite (2012-2015) and Mexico SC (1999-2002). They only needed one win to make their fifth straight appearance and it came in the opening round when they defeated Austin Real Cuauhtemoc (Austin, TX) 4-2 in Georgetown, Texas on Nov. 1, 2015. They received a free pass in Round 2 when International Portland Select (Oregon) forfeited because the club was unable to make the 2,000-mile trip to North Texas. In their four previous trips to the US Open Cup, they have never hosted a tournament game and have only advanced beyond their opening match once. In 2014, they eliminated the PDL’s Austin Aztex 4-2 in penalty kicks after an exciting 4-4 draw. The Rayados play in the very competitive North Texas Premier Soccer Association.
Outbreak FC (South CA, USASA)
Outbreak FC will make their first US Open Cup appearance as they are the last remaining So Cal Premier League team left in the competition. They finished tied for second place in the SCPL last season. After cruising past fellow So Cal Premier League team Buena Park FC 5-1 in Round 1, they had to win a thriller in extra time against the San Pedro Monsters, 4-3 to advance. They lost a 2-0 lead in the final 15 minutes, including a 90th minute equalizer, but Outbreak scored two goals in the second overtime period which helped them overcome a late goal by the Monsters.
San Francisco City FC (North CA, US Club Soccer)
San Francisco City FC, the lone representative led from US Club Soccer, will make their second straight appearance in the US Open Cup. After a 2-0 win in the opening round of qualifying against former US Open Cup champion El Farolito, they would ultimately punch their ticket to the 103rd edition of the tournament in thrilling fashion. The most exciting game of the 2016 qualifying tournament most likely belongs to San Francisco City’s comeback win over the Davis Legacy. City trailed three times before Johannes Demarzi scored the game-winner in the 86th minute. It was a frantic final 11 minutes as Davis took a 3-2 lead in the 79th minute, only to see City equalize two minutes later and then take the lead for good. The fan-owned club, which recently joined the Premier Development League (PDL) had their debut appearance in the tournament cut short last year by Cal FC in the Preliminary Round.
San Nicolas (South CA, USASA)
San Nicolas, the recently-crowned champions of the Los Angeles-based UPSL will be making their first appearance in the US Open Cup. Their journey began with a painful free pass into the Second Round of qualifying. They advanced past Corinthians USA by way of forfeit after their opponents did not properly register enough players. The two teams showed up to play the game and decided that since they all came to play, they might as well play, so they did. The clubs played an exhibition match where San Nicolas was leading 2-0 before the lights went out at the field before 90 minutes were up, but the friendly proved to be costly as they lost their star forward, former Chivas USA player Maykel Galindo, to injury. Galindo missed their second round match on Nov. 22 because of that injury, but they didn’t need him as they defeated So Cal Premier League side Real Sociedad 3-0 to move on to the final round.
Southie FC (MA, USASA)
Southie FC, who are members of the Massachusetts State Soccer League, shut out a pair of teams from the rival Bay Area Soccer League to earn their first-ever US Open Cup berth. First, the Tyngsboro, Mass.-based club shut out Battery Park Gunners 2-0 before knocking off GPS Omens 4-0 in Round 2. Both teams finished the season ranked in the Top 4 in the BSSL.
West Chester United SC (East PA, USASA)
From 2011-2013, West Chester United won the always competitive Eastern Pennsylvania qualifying tournament, but fell short of the US Open Cup with losses in the USASA Region I tournament. In 2014-15, United won their third straight Eastern Pennsylvania title, won the Region I championship for the first time, and even moved on to win the USASA national tournament, but a change in the qualifying format denied the team a spot in the 2015 US Open Cup. Now, this year, the United Soccer League of Philadelphia side will finally make their debut in the US Open Cup. To get to the final round, they had to beat a pair of familiar teams from the Philadelphia Premier Soccer League. In Round 1, they edged Junior Lone Star 2-1 in extra time and then shut out Salone FC 3-0 to reach the final round.
2016 US OPEN CUP QUALIFYING RESULTS/SCHEDULE
(click on games for match report)
OCT. 17, 2015
Southie FC (MA) 1:0 Battery Park Gunners (MA)
Salone FC (EAST PA) 1:0 Vereinigung Erzgebirge (EAST PA)
Aromas Café FC (DC/VA) 3:1 Tartan Devils Oak Avalon (WEST PA)
Junior Lone Star FC (EAST PA) 1:2 (AET) West Chester United (EAST PA)
Jersey Shore Boca (NJ) 2:1 South Jersey Elite Barons (NJ)
Lansdowne Bhoys FC (EAST NY) 3:0 Newtown Pride FC (CT)
OCT. 18, 2015
Global Premier Soccer Omens (MA) 5:0 Boston Olympiakos FC (MA)
Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (MD) 2:1 (AET) Maryland Bays (MD)
NY Greek American SC (EAST NY) 2:4 (AET) NY Pancyprian Freedoms (EAST NY)
Worcester FC (MA) 2:1 Newport FC (RI)
OCT. 24, 2015
NTX Rayados (NORTH TX) vs. Austin Real Cuauhtemoc (SOUTH TX) – PPD (rain)
Match rescheduled for Nov. 1 at 4 p.m. at McMasters Athletic Complex (Georgetown, TX)
Harpo’s FC (CO) 4:1 (AET) Colorado Rovers (CO)
San Nicolas (SOUTH CA) W:L Corinthians USA (SOUTH CA)
(Corinthians forfeited – not enough registered players)
La Maquina(SOUTH CA) 3:2 Strikers FC South Coast (SOUTH CA)
San Pedro Monsters (SOUTH CA) 9:0 Footballers Academy (SOUTH CA)
LA Wolves (SOUTH CA) 2:1 (AET) Del Rey City SC (SOUTH CA)
OCT. 25, 2015
Boca Raton FC (FL) 2:1 (AET) Real Miami Club of Football (FL)
Colorado Rush (CO) 5:2 FC Boulder (CO)
San Francisco City FC (NORTH CA) 2:0 El Farolito (NORTH CA)
Outbreak FC (SOUTH CA) 5:1 Buena Park FC (SOUTH CA)
Queen City United FC (NC) 4:1 Charlotte Sporting Soccer Academy FC (NC)
Real Sociedad (SOUTH CA) 2:2 (4:1 PKs) Ozzy’s Laguna FC (SOUTH CA)
Uruguay Kendall (FL) 3:0 Red Force (FL)
Davis Legacy (NORTH CA) 1:0 IFX Ballistic (NORTH CA)
Cal FC (SOUTH CA) 4:0 Valley United (SOUTH CA)
Chula Vista FC (SOUTH CA) 5:2 Temecula FC (SOUTH CA)
NOV. 1, 2015
NTX Rayados (NORTH TX) 4:2 Austin Real Cuauhtemoc (SOUTH TX)
International Portland Select (OR) W:L KC Athletics (KS)
KC Athletics withdrew (travel); IPS advances to Round 2
CD Motagua (LA) W:L Tobacco Road FC (NC)
Tobacco Road FC withdrew (travel); CD Motagua advances to Round 2
QUALIFYING: SECOND ROUND (All Times Eastern)
International Portland Select (OR) at NTX Rayados (NTX)
IPS withdrew (travel); NTX Rayados advances to Round 3
NOV. 14, 2015
NY Pancyprian Freedoms (East NY) 2:1 Jersey Shore Boca (NJ)
Lansdowne Bhoys (ENY) 5:0 Worcester FC (MA)
NOV. 15, 2015
Aromas Café FC (DC/VA) 3:1 Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (MD)
Southie FC (MA) 4:0 GPS Omens (MA)
West Chester United (EAST PA) 3:0 Salone FC (EAST PA)
NOV. 21, 2015
Queen City United (NC) 2:5 CD Motagua of New Orleans (LA)
La Maquina (SCA) 4:0 Chula Vista FC (SCA)
Cal FC (SCA) 1:2 LA Wolves FC (SCA)
NOV. 22, 2015
Boca Raton FC (FL) 1:1 (5:4 PKs) Uruguay Kendall (FL)
Colorado Rush (CO) 1:3 Harpo’s FC (CO)
Davis Legacy (NCA) 3:4 San Francisco City FC (NCA)
San Nicolas (SCA) 3:0 Real Sociedad (SCA)
Outbreak FC 4:3 (AET) San Pedro Monsters FC
US OPEN CUP FIRST ROUND
May 11, 2016*
*Dates subject to change