Denver, Colorado-based Azteca FC will make their US Open Cup debut in 2017 with a midweek road trip to Wichita, Kansas.
Azteca FC is owned and managed by Andy De La Rosa who also runs a successful construction company which sponsors the team. Over the years, the club has been a regular fixture of the Colorado Amateur Soccer League (CASL), which was recently re-branded as the Colorado Premier League (CPL). However, it was not until watching local rivals Harpo’s FC embark on back-to-back US Open Cup upset runs that the local competition heated up.
Back-to-back upsets over defending title holders FC Denver and league champions Harpo’s earned Azteca FC the 2016 Colorado State Cup and opened the door to qualify for the 2017 Open Cup. The Cup final was a scrappy battle with multiple ejections on both sides resulting in Azteca’s first ever State Cup trophy as well as fueling a burgeoning rivalry. Two months later US Soccer paired the two clubs together once again in a single game qualifier for a spot in the Open Cup and once again Azteca came from behind to upset Harpo’s 2-1 qualifying Azteca FC for the 2017 US Open Cup.
Since dethroning Colorado’s most notable U.S. Open Cup participant in years past; Azteca FC has changed their look and increased their status in the local soccer scene. Over the winter the club was a key organizer of the newly formed UPSL Colorado Division however opted to remain with the rebranded Colorado Premier League. Azteca FC also rebranded themselves with a new team badge that combines their Mexican-American pride with the Colorado flag.
Through all the changes the core of Azteca FC remains the same. Head coach and owner Andy De La Rosa’s team has always built his teams picking the top players from the Denver area Hispanic, mostly Mexican-American, Sunday leagues. As De La Rosa’s business and team grows he has expanded his recruiting efforts both in the Denver area and on both sides of the Mexican-American border across the southwest. Looking across the roster a healthy mix of youth and veteran players will be looking to this Open Cup opportunity as their shot to play at their highest level while a few key players, including ex-Chivas Guadalajara winger Omar Ledesma and ex-Club America center back Alfredo Duran, will be using this opportunity to recapture the spotlight and possibly make a move back into professional soccer.
This year is no different for the Azteca player pool. Over the offseason most of their players stayed with the team in their indoor sessions while others traveled back to Mexico and Texas to visit their families or play in other leagues. As the spring CPL season progresses their team is re-unifying just in time for the all important Open Cup match in Kansas.
The most notable return is winger Omar Ledesma who returned from his indoor team in El Paso, Texas in mid April. Ledesma’s impact on the team is undeniable; in his first game back the ex-Chivas Guadalajara winger electrified the Azteca offense that was previously in the lower half of the league in goals scored to a 5-3 league victory. Playing off center forward Robert Aguilar the Azteca offense can be characterized by their ability to disrupt the rhythm of their opponent’s backline and capitalize on whatever opportunity they produce.
Looking forward to representing the Centennial State and Colorado Premier League along with Rush FC Azteca FC manager Andy de la Rosa and captain Armando Chavira are having no issues fielding their strongest team for the U.S. Open Cup.
”It is hard for a lot of guys to take three days off work and make that seven-hour drive on a Tuesday, practice on Wednesday morning, play Wednesday night and turn around back to Denver the next day,” said Chavira. “But everyone is committed, the whole squad is ready to go … everyone is ready to represent for our state and our league”
Wichita FC hosts Azteca FC Wednesday May 10th 7:00 PM (CT) at the Stryker Soccer Park in Wichita, Kansas.