The Premier Development League’s month-long Lamar Hunt US Open Cup qualifying process gets underway this weekend with five games. In the first game on Friday, April 30, the Laredo Heat kicked off PDL qualifying with a 3-1 win over the Rio Grande Valley Bravos. This year, all of the 59 U.S.-based teams in the amateur league will fight to be one of the eight that reach the Open Cup with hopes of being this year’s Cinderella story.
Last year it was Ocean City FC (known then as the Ocean City Barons), who upset two professional teams (Crystal Palace Baltimore & Real Maryland Monarchs) en route to a date with DC United of Major League Soccer. They would give the MLS club the fight of their lives, but fell 2-0.
The other seven entries from last year included: Chicago Fire (PDL), Kitsap Pumas, Mississippi Brilla, El Paso Patriots, Orange County Blue Star, Reading Rage (known in 2010 as Reading United), and the St. Louis Lions.
This year’s format will be the same as it was last year, with each of the eight divisions sending one team to the big dance. Each team will have four of their regular season games (two home games and two road games prior to May 31) double as Open Cup qualifiers. The league has selected which of these games will count and the team that finishes at the top of each table, advances.
A wrench was thrown into this year’s plans as the Panama City Pirates of the Southeast Division were removed from the league due to financial problems, leaving holes in the Open Cup qualifying schedule. In order to avoid rescheduling any games, the USL was forced to make changes to the qualifying schedule that only affected two teams.
|Last year’s US Open Cup qualifiers from the PDL
(How they finished)
|Ocean City FC
(Lost in 3rd Round, 2-0 at DC United (MLS)
(Lost in 1st Round, 4-1 at Harrisburg (USL-2)
St. Louis Lions
(Lost in 1st Round, 3-0 at Cleveland City Stars (USL-1)
Orange County Blue Star
(Lost in 1st Round, 5-2 vs. Sonoma County Sol (USASA)
(Lost in 1st Round, 3-0 vs. Portland Timbers (USL-1)
Chicago Fire (PDL)
(Lost in 2nd Round, 4-0 at Minnesota Thunder (USL-1)
El Paso Patriots
(Lost in 2nd Round, 2-0 vs. Austin Aztex (USL-1)
(Lost in 1st Round, 2-0 at Austin Aztex (USL-1)
The Central Florida Kraze replaced their match against Panama City with a May 16 date against Ft. Lauderdale Schulz Academy. However, since Ft. Lauderdale already had their four Open Cup games set, the May 15 game will only count toward Central Florida’s qualifying standings.
The other problem that was created was with the New Orleans Jesters who were unable to replace their date with the Pirates. To make up for that lost game, the Jesters’ May 15 match against the Bradenton Academics will count double. (If they win = six points, draw = 2 points, loss = 0 points for 2 games, which could mathematically eliminate them from contention.)