With the number of teams qualifying for the US Open Cup steadily rising the past few years, it was inevitable that we’d meet some new teams from new places.
Enter FC Anahuac.
For the first time in the Modern Era (1995-present), an amateur team from the state of Nevada will enter the US Open Cup. (Reno 1868 FC are a first-time entry this year from the USL)
The club’s roots go back to a pair of brothers, Peter and Jose Perez, from Oxnard, Calif. who put a team together in 1966 to start playing against other Los Angeles-based teams. The current iteration of the team came to Las Vegas in 1991 and is run almost entirely by the tireless efforts of defender and coach Eduardo Arredondo.
As for the rest of the roster, one name stands out among the rest: Ramon Maldonado. The 29-year-old midfielder rejoins Anahuac after participating in the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Maldonado scored three of Mexico’s seven goals in the competition, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough as he and his countrymen were trounced 8-1 by Italy just before the quarterfinal round.
FC Anahuac currently play in the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL), a Southern California-based amateur league that has expanded in recent years to more than 70 members in California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Colorado. The UPSL has made waves recently by adding a form of promotion and relegation to its competitive structure. No other organized league with so many teams across the country utilizes such a system.
If the word “Anahuac” sounds familiar, it’s because it has had many different uses throughout Mexican culture. During the height of ancient Aztec civilization, it was the word used to describe the Basin of Mexico. The Anahuac Valley is another name for the Valley of Mexico and there is an Anahuac municipality in Nuevo Leon. There’s also the Anahuac University Network, a system of private higher education institutions throughout the country of Mexico.
Anahuac’s first-ever attempt to qualify for the US Open Cup could not have been easier. They won their first round qualifier after their opponents, Las Vegas Highrollers, had to forfeit. In Round 2, they took on MF 10, who actually were only able to trot out eight players to start the game. Anahuac went up 2-0 and MF 10 lost two more players (one was injured and could not continue, while the other was sent off) which forced the referee to call the game off at halftime.
So after playing a shorthanded team for 45 minutes, Anahuac punched their ticket to the tournament. Despite the relatively easy path to qualification, Arredondo is still confident that his team can do some damage in the tournament.
“I think we’ll win this one and then the next one will be very difficult,” said the do-it-all spokesman for the team. “I think we have a great team. I think we have a great defense … but it’s not going to be easy.”
Anahuac travels to Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, Calif. on Wednesday to take on NPSL side Sonoma County Sol. Should they meet their coach’s expectations and win their first game, Anahuac will attempt to slay United Soccer League (USL) giants Sacramento Republic in Round 2.