The National Premier Soccer League will enter eight teams into the 100th Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, but those teams have not yet been announced. Six of the eight teams are expected to be chosen from the Northeast, Midwest and Southern conferences but the league’s Western Conference kicks off their qualifying tournament this tournament.
The six-team tournament for the Northern Division kicked off with the Sacramento Gold defeating CD Aguiluchos in Oakland, Calif. 3-0. The Gold move on to play Real San Jose in the semifinals on March 16. In the other semifinal the next day, the San Francisco Stompers will square off with the Sonoma County Sol. The final is scheduled to be played on March 23.
The Sol are the only team among the Northern Division teams who has qualified for the US Open Cup. They have reached the tournament four times: 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010. They have a 1-3-2 (1-1 in PKs) record in their four appearances with their lone regulation win coming against the PDL’s Orange County Blue Star in 2009.
The following weekend, in the Southern Division, the Orange County Spartans — formerly known as the Fullerton Rangers — play host to San Diego Boca FC in a rematch of last year’s Open Cup qualifying final. The Rangers beat Boca 3-2 last spring to earn their first Open Cup berth, and lost to the PDL’s Ventura County Fusion 6-2 after extra time in their tournament debut.
Reigning regular-season conference champion San Diego Flash and FC Santa Clarita received first-round byes in this year’s tournament and will host semifinal matches on March 23. The Flash will face either Orange County or city rival Boca, while Santa Clarita will take on the winner of the Hasental-Las Vegas match. The final is set for March 30.
Last year, the NPSL received 6.5 spots and the West had 1.5 berths. The Rangers qualified while the Bay Area Ambassadors claimed the “half berth.” Bay Area faced fellow California club Stanislaus United Turlock Express in a play-in game — Stanislaus United won that match 3-0 to become the first US Club Soccer team to qualify for the Open Cup.
2013 NPSL Western Conference Southern Division qualifying
First Round (March 17)
Las Vegas Stallions at FC Hasental
Las Vegas forfeits (player paperwork issues)
San Diego Boca FC 0:2 Orange County Spartans
Semifinals (March 23)
Orange County Spartans at San Diego Flash
Del Norte High School – 5 p.m. PT
FC Hasental at Santa Clarita
Canyon High School – 5 p.m. PT
Final (March 30)
2013 NPSL Western Conference Northern Division qualifying
First Round (March 9)
Sacramento Gold 3:0 CD Aguiluchos USA
Semifinals (March 16)
Sacramento Gold 2:0 Real San Jose
San Francisco Stompers 2:5 Sonoma County Sol
Final (March 23)
Sonoma County Sol at Sacramento Gold
River City High School – 7 p.m. PT