UPDATE: San Francisco City defeated Stanislaus United 3-0 to win the tournament and is expected to represent US Club Soccer in the 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (the format has not been officially announced). If they do, in fact, qualify, they are the first San Francisco team to reach the tournament since 1997.
While the tournament proper is still months away and the qualifying format/berths are yet to be announced, fans can get their first action of the 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup when a pair of Northern California clubs meet in what TheCup.us believes will prove to be a “win and you’re in” game Saturday. The championship game of the US Club Soccer qualifying tournament will take place at Cox Stadium on the campus of San Francisco State University. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. local time.
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San Francisco City FC will host Stanislaus United Academica, looking to become the first team from San Francisco to qualify for the Open Cup in nearly 20 years. According to SFCFC, the winner will qualify for the 102nd edition of the Open Cup, but it is unclear if the US Club Soccer champion will begin play in a preliminary round or the first round.
The NorCal Adult Premier League was chosen as the organization’s qualifying tournament that involved the top four sides from the 2014 season to decide who would be granted the spot. Seeded first, thanks to a 10-1-0 record, San Francisco City defeated fourth-seeded Juventus Adult Soccer Academy 7-1 in a two-leg aggregate series, while second-seeded Stanislaus United walloped Impact Soccer Club 15-1, setting up Saturday’s final.
“The (match) will be a highly-competitive game, filled with a number of former professional and top-level college athletes,” said SF City FC head coach Andrew Gardner. “Both teams have proven to be the class of the league all season long, and it will truly be a battle.”
Gardner is expecting a crowd in excess of 500 for the game, which will be a rematch of SF City’s 2-1 win in the 2014 NorCal Premier regular season.
Last year, City played as Ticket Arsenal FC, named after a company that Gardner’s brother, Jordan, founded. The team then merged with NPSL-hopefuls San Francisco City FC to form a supporter-owned club in the Fog City.
If United Academica are to win, they would be the second time the club has qualified for the Open Cup after they, under the name Stanislaus United Turlock Express, became the first US Club Soccer team to play in the tournament in 2012, but fell in the first round to the Fresno Fuego of USL’s Premier Development League (PDL).
The last team to represent the city of San Francisco in the tournament was the San Francisco Bay Seals who made an improbable run to the Semifinals in 1997. The D3 Pro League team (Division 3) from USL upset the A-League’s Seattle Sounders and followed that up by defeating a pair of Major League Soccer teams, the Kansas City Wizards and the San Jose Earthquakes, to reach the final four. Their run would end with a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of defending MLS Cup and Open Cup champion DC United.
The NorCal Premier League also sent teams to the Open Cup in each of the last two years. Fresno Fuego Future, a team constructed to qualify after the Fresno Fuego failed to make the cut through the PDL, qualified in 2013 but lost to the NPSL’s FC Hasental in a preliminary round game.
Southern California squad Corinthians USA was the US Club Soccer representative last year, but forfeited their opening round match to the San Diego Flash because they couldn’t get international clearances for a number of their key players in time for the game.