Colorado Rovers to represent United States Specialty Sports Association in 100th Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

Posted by | March 22, 2013

When US Soccer announced the format for the 2013 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, a new name caught the eye of many a soccer fan—the United States Specialty Sports Association. The organization was awarded a spot in the tournament, beginning play in the Qualifying Round, and has confirmed that the Colorado Rovers will be their representative.

While Specialty Sports may not be a household name, it is actually quite a large organization. Specialty Sports is a national organization, featuring 13 different sports and about 3.5 million members. Baseball and softball account for most of that number, but soccer has made large strides since its inclusion into Specialty Sports in 2001.

By 2008, 11 states were holding championships, and the first Specialty Sports National Championship took place in Las Vegas. This year, 18 teams got together in Denver to determine who would become the first ever Specialty Sports club to participate in the US Open Cup.

A Specialty Sports club in the US Open Cup is new, but the Colorado Rovers are anything but. Founded in 1992, the Rovers have gradually become a force in Colorado soccer. According to Erick French, the Adult Director of Specialty Sports, the Rovers began in a league’s second division, eventually moved to the top division, and have been winning consistently ever since.

“It’s really good for the team to have this kind of an opportunity. It helps with our recruiting, it helps with everything we do,” said French. “Regardless of how we do in the cup, it’s a fantastic opportunity for us. We’re really excited.”

Before moving to Specialty Sports, Colorado was a member of the USASA. The Rovers never attempted to qualify for the Open Cup, but they were successful in the amateur tournaments, winning the Region IV Amateur Cup in 2009. Currently, they play in the Colorado Amateur Soccer League.

Last year saw a US Club Soccer enter their first team into the US Open Cup and the Fresno-based Stanislaus United Turlock Express were victorious in their tournament debut. The Rovers hope to do the same as they begin play in the Qualifying Round on May 7 against an National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) team that has yet to be determined.

Regardless of what happens, it will be a great experience for the Specialty Sports side, and a stepping stone for the organization.

“My motivation was for our adult member leagues. I wanted to be able to give them the opportunity to compete at a national level in the most prestigious soccer tournament in the country,” said Craig Scriven, the National Director for USSSA Soccer, about applying to add USSSA to the tournament field. “The Open Cup is a great tournament which allows all teams and players the chance to test themselves against other  federation members. In speaking with the representatives from Colorado Rovers I’m already excited about the game ahead.”

“For me we have reached our goal this year, which is acceptance into the event. It’s a great moment for USSSA and Colorado Rovers who will not only be representing themselves and their league, but also an entire organization for the very first time. Any further progression will be the icing on the cake.

“Going forward, I am excited to see our member leagues and tournaments grow stronger. By having an avenue into the Open Cup our top divisions throughout the country will have another step in their seasons which will make for some great games.”

The Rovers will be the first non-PDL amateur club to qualify for the US Open Cup in the Modern Professional Era (1995-present).


2013 US Open Cup Qualifying Round (May 7)
Colorado Rovers (USSSA) vs. NPSL team TBA
US Club Soccer team TBA vs. NPSL team TBA
*Winners advance to Round 1 on May 14


  • El Conductor says:

    So, sight-unseen, The US Open Cup declared weeks ago this team will play an NPSL club, regardless of the regional proximity excuse they trot out to deflect any questions of seeding & matchups? This means either the Rovers (a prophetic name) or some NPSL club will have to fly halfway across the country when there’s a qualifying PDL club RIGHT THERE IN THE SAME CITY! (Real Colorado Foxes) Damn stupid way to organize a national tournament.

  • The Ninja says:

    Colorado Rovers earned their spot in the tournament Conductor. They qualified in the manner that they were told to.

  • El Conductor says:

    You missed the point. How they qualified isn’t what I’m upset about. The US Open Cup made a huge mistake assigning two NPSL teams to play in the play-in round. Two 5th-tier USASA teams should have been given those seeds instead. OR BETTER YET, the Cup should have waited until all the teams were qualified before deciding who’s in the play-in round. Their hasty, short-sighted decision is going to mean tens of thousands of dollars in travel costs that could have been avoided.

  • As the President of an amateur club, I completely understand where El Conductor is coming from. Just getting to a qualifying tournament 4 hours away is expensive for clubs in the USASA and similar levels. We don’t have the budgets that other teams have and a lot of our costs come out of the pockets of players and team managers.

  • Bullsear says:

    @El Conductor, I agree with you on principle, but there’s also not a “The Cup.” The Cup (not is run by the USSF, which operates the whole competition on a shoe string budget. They won’t change their ways until US soccer fans force them to by supporting the tournament.

  • El Conductor says:

    Regardless of who runs it, I expect them to at least act in their own self-interest. If they’d have waited until April 21 – the date most teams will be qualified, they could have saved a lot of money on the ~$8K/ game given to the traveling team. Waiting to matchup teams would have meant the Colorado Rovers could have been assigned to Denver-neighbors, Real Colorado. That change right there would have made the tournament $8,000 more profitable. But rashness, and stupidity triumphed over efficiency and profit. That upsets me.

    • Josh Hakala says:

      The USSF isn’t responsible for the decision. The Open Cup committee informs each league how many entries they will receive and they leave it up to the league to determine who those teams are. The NPSL is the one who decides which teams will begin in Round 1 and which two teams will enter in the Qualifying Round. The problem is, up until now, the NPSL didn’t know where these US Club Soccer or USSSA teams were going to come from. I’m assuming (please note, I’m purely speculating) since the Western Conference went through a qualifying tournament they should have the right to enter in Round 1, rather than the rest of the teams, who got in based on 2012 season results. Could they have waited to find out who the USCS and USSSA teams were before they told the teams they were starting in Round 1? Sure. But there’s also no reason to think they couldn’t make changes to minimize travel.

  • El Conductor says:

    Josh, I don’t know if the NPSL waiting would have made a difference. Take a look at the map of NPSL clubs (; there isn’t a single NPSL team, much less a qualifing one) anywhere near Denver. The entire issue here is that the leagues involved in the play-in round were determined with no thought to proximity (and I would also argue, no thought to quality). Now that one of the qualifying teams isn’t even remotely close to their opponent, the tournament is going to be more expensive and less enjoyable for the poor team that has to fly in and out of Denver – and that didn’t have to happen.

    • Josh Hakala says:

      You’re right, I think they probably chose the leagues that would participate based on quality, history etc. I would assume they value that over geography/travel.

  • beto says:

    nice another club in the USOC here in CO!? Sounds like they will be on the road to start, is there any chance they could host a game in the Cup?

  • Steve Bugati says:

    Hell yeah the Rovers are awesome and will dominate the first game. They have a great feeder program from the surround universities. Excited about this one.

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