Chula Vista FC celebrates in the locker room after their 3-0 upset of Arizona United in the Second Round of the 2015 US Open Cup. Photo: Chula Vista FC
How do you improve upon a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup debut like that of Chula Vista FC’s?
Chula Vista shut out a pro team (Arizona United SC of the USL) in its very first entry in the tournament in 2015 and enter this year as one of the youngest teams in this year’s competition. The roster is comprised mostly of players under the age of 23, but the team won’t be without its veterans though. There are 12 players returning from last year’s unsuccessful qualifying attempt, and 11 from its debut in 2015.
The team may be young, but its not without its stars. Alberto Diaz, who was a nominee for TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament in 2015, is back along with US Under-20 National Team midfielder Jose Luis Altamirano and Rodrigo Fuentes as part of the midfield.
Two years after a surprising debut in the Open Cup, Chula Vista FC look to improve an already impressive record. For this edition of the tournament Coach Hector Diaz said “the team is solid and we have set a high goal for ourselves, but nevertheless realistic.”
In 2015, the SoCal club made its first foray into one of the oldest club competitions in the world and would go on to provide some early upsets. The First Round match provided a major upset when Chula Vista went on to defeat PDL side FC Tucson after extra time. Chula Vista put on an impressive display as it dispatched Arizona United SC of the USL 3-0 in the Second Round.
The budding Cinderella story came to a close after a 7-3 loss to USL side Sacramento Republic FC.
The 2016 edition of the Open Cup had its ups and downs for Chula Vista, with a 5-2 win over NPSL side Temecula FC. This put Chula Vista up against UPSL side La Maquina FC, which resulted in a 4-0 defeat, leaving them one game short of qualifying.
Previous forays in the Open Cup have also been good learning experiences for the squad.
“When you’re a new team, you go and play without any expectations because a bar has yet to be set,” Diaz said. He went on to explain that the team cannot overlook anyone this year and thinks that this year’s team is the right mix to make another deep run.
This year’s campaign has gotten off to a terrific start with a 5-1 first qualifying round victory over UPSL side Frontera United. The match saw two goals each from Francisco Ramirez and Diaz, with a fifth coming from Angel Pinal. CVFC moved on to face FC Hasental of the UPSL. Diaz added another brace in a 4-1 second qualifying round victory over the NPSL side. The game also saw goals from Rodrigo Fuentes and Jaime Verdin.
Chula Vista will now look ahead to their First Round proper opponents Albion SC Pros of San Diego on May 10 and hope to make another memorable run.