The qualification process has been set for one of the four National Premier Soccer League’s automatic berths into the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The Southeast Division’s spot will feature a six-team tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn. May 27-29, according to the website of host Chattanooga FC.
Hosted at Finley Stadium, the event kicks off Friday, May 27 with a pair of First Round matches. Knoxville Force and Jacksonville United FC meet in the first match followed by Rocket City United versus FC Tulsa.
The two winners advance to play the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves and host Chattanooga FC Saturday evening. The tournament champion will be played Sunday night to determine the US Open Cup entrant. New club Georgia Revolution are the only team in the division not slated to participate.
Previous NPSL qualification opportunities were primarily held via the regional USASA tournaments. Three clubs participated in the Region III tournament a year ago, but were unable to earn one of the two berths on the line, finishing a combined 2-4-3 in group play.
About the Teams
Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves: Formerly known as Atlanta FC, the club has been in existence since 2008 as members of the NPSL and previously only qualified for the US Open Cup once. In their lone appearance in 2009, the club was eliminated in the First Round on the road, 2-0, by the Charleston Battery of the USL First Division (pro second division). The new name reflects new ownership and affiliation with the new NASL team of the same name (provisionally sanctioned pro second division). Atlanta won the division in its first season in 2008. Last year, Atlanta finished third in its Region III tournament group. (MORE: Atlanta FC – 2009 Meet the USASA)
Chattanooga FC: The club from Tennessee is entering its third year in the league and are the defending conference champion. This will be the team’s first attempt at qualifying for the US Open Cup. The team is coached by Brian Crossman, the 21-year coach of local Covenant College.
FC Tulsa: Entering their second season in the NPSL, the Oklahoma side finished second in the division a year ago after finishing second in the USASA Region III tournament while trying to qualify for the US Open Cup. The club’s director of coaching is Ali Adibi, who also manages the women’s side and formerly coached the Tulsa Roughnecks for eight years during the USL era in which they never qualified for the US Open Cup.
Jacksonville United FC: The Florida club is a new entry into the NPSL this season, but fans of the US Open Cup will recognize the team. Jacksonville United is a product of a merger of Open Cup regulars Lynch’s FC (Lynch’s Irish Pub / DS United) and the Jacksonville United youth academy. Lynch’s has qualified for the Open Cup three times (2003, 2007, 2009) in the last eight years. The team is coached by Pat Cannon, a recent inductee into the University of West Florida Hall of Fame. (MORE: Lynch’s FC – 2009 Meet the USASA)
Knoxville Force: Another new club in the NPSL, the Force are led by Derek Broadley, who previously served as head coach of Reading United AC of the Premier Development League from 2005-07. Reading did not qualify for the US Open Cup during his tenure.
Rocket City United: A member of the NPSL since 2008, the club finished first in the division in 2009, but has not qualified in its attempts to reach the US Open Cup the past two years. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, the club is under its third coach in four years with Gerry Cleary at the helm.