2018 US Open Cup Round 2 preview: USL teams join the tournament

Posted by | May 16, 2018
The 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup features 97 teams from a Modern Era record 33 different states. Graphic by: Gilberto Hernandez | @GilbertoHdz200

The 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup features 97 teams from a Modern Era record 33 different states. Graphic by: Gilberto Hernandez | @GilbertoHdz200

The Second Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup kicks off on Wednesday with 24 games. With 26 open division teams surviving the First Round, they are joined by 22 professional teams from the United Soccer League (USL).

Of those 24 games, 20 of them will have live video streams (SEE LINKS BELOW).

Scroll down for a brief preview of each game

#USOC2018 coverage:
2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup schedule, results
2018 US Open Cup statistical leaders

USSF allows NY Cosmos B, Miami FC 2, Jacksonville Armada into 2018 US Open Cup
El Farolito, 1993 US Open Cup champions, disqualified from 2018 tournament
Why is it against the rules to change leagues during the US Open Cup?
FC Cincinnati at Gettler Stadium: “Like Metallica playing a small venue”

2018 Meet the Underdogs series
Christos FC
FC Denver
FC Kendall
Kendall Wanderers
La Maquina FC
Los Angeles Wolves FC
NTX Rayados
Red Force FC
Rochester River Dogz
Santa Ana Winds
Sporting AZ FC

2018 US Open Cup qualifying results
2018 US Open Cup qualifying Win & You’re In review
2018 US Open Cup qualifying Round 2 review
2018 US Open Cup qualifying Round 1 review

Things you should know about the First Round of the US Open Cup

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Eighteen days. That is how long it will be between North Carolina FC’s last match they played and their US Open Cup match versus Lansdowne Bhoys FC on Wednesday, May 18.

After starting the season with three straight losses, North Carolina FC have gone unbeaten in their last four matches. Their last outing saw the new USL club pull out a 3-0 win over Penn FC. North Carolina FC will look to muster the magic of their Carolina Railhawk days that saw them reach the Semifinals in 2007 and the Quarterfinals in 2013 & 2014.

To do that, they will have to defeat New York club Lansdowne Bhoys FC, who defeated the Brooklyn Italians of the NPSL 2-0 in last week’s U.S. Open Cup First Round.

Daryl Kavanagh opened the scoring early for Lansdowne, notching a goal in the 8th minute and Mamadou Guirassy wasted no time in the second half to get Lansdowne’s second goal, scoring in the 46th minute to seal the 2-0 win for the Bhoys.

North Carolina FC, whose roster features former Timbers Michael Harrington and Futty Danso, take on Lansdowne Bhoys FC at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. Other than being a professional teams, there are some historical numbers that lean in NCFC’s favor. NCFC has enjoyed a lot of success at WakeMed Soccer Park over the years. They are 17-6-2 (1-1 PKs) at home in US Open Cup play, and they have never lost to an amateur team (6-0-0).

If NCFC wins, they will host the winner of the Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL) and the Charlotte Independence (USL). If the Bhoys pull off the upset, they will play either Ocean City or Charlotte on the road.






Erie Commodores FC hosts the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Second Round action on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The match will be played in McConnell Family Stadium on the campus of Gannon University.

Pittsburgh enters the match at 4-4-0 in USL play, and will be looking for their first triumph in the Open Cup’s Second Round for the first time in three years. Notably, the Riverhounds haven’t won a match on the road in Open Cup play since 2008 when they defeated Chicago-based amateur side AAC Eagles.

Neco Brett is Pittsburgh’s top scorer with five goals to his credit, while Brett and Kevin Kerr are tied atop the team leaderboard with two assists each. The Riverhound defense has proven stingy this season, with just three goals getting past goalkeeper Daniel Lynd.

Commodores FC are enjoying their first-ever Open Cup campaign, advancing to the Second Round by virtue of a 1-1 (4-3 PK) result over the Rochester River Dogz last Wednesday. Cameron Phillips scored the first goal in Erie’s Open Cup history in the 27th minute last week.

The winner of this game will host the winner of FC Cincinnati (USL) and Detroit City FC (NPSL) in Round 3 next Wednesday.







This matchup pits two teams, with some of the best Open Cup resumes for their respective leagues, up against one another. The host Reading United AC are one of the most successful PDL sides in the Modern Era of the Cup as they are making an impressive tenth straight trip into the Open Cup, a record for amateur teams since 1995. It is their 12th appearance overall, and they have gone as far as to make the Third Round three times (2013, 2014, 2017). To reach last year’s Third Round they had to upset the NASL’s New York Cosmos. While they have yet to beat an MLS side, they are no stranger to upsetting pro sides having beaten multiple USL and NASL teams over the past decade. Reading began their PDL season this past weekend with a 2-0 victory over Lehigh Valley after beating last year’s Cinderellas, Christos FC, on penalties in round one of the Cup.

Their opponent is a former US Open Cup champion Richmond Kickers who famously won the Cup as a high-powered amateur team in 1995. Richmond currently feature one of the US Open Cup’s best Modern Era goalscorers Dane Kelly, who is on loan to them from D.C. United. Dane was last years USL Golden Boot winner while at Reno 1868, and knows how to score in the Open Cup with seven career goals in the tournament . The Kickers picked up a 1-0 victory this past weekend over Tampa Bay in USL play to climb into 10th place in the USL Eastern Conference Standings.

The winner of the this second round match will host either FC Motown (NPSL) or Penn FC (USL) in the Third Round of the Cup next week.




Louisville City FC have lost back-to-back games for the first time since July 2016. The USL side will look to get back to winning ways against the Long Island Rough Riders from the PDL in the Second Round of the US Open Cup on Wednesday.

Long Island won a nine-goal thriller against Kingston Stockdale FC in the First Round of the Open Cup on May 9. Thomas Wharf scored in the 80th minute to send the game into added extra time where five goals would be scored between the two sides. All five would be scored in the second half of added extra time.

Junior Rosario got things underway in the 108th minute and Charlie Ledula made it 4-2 just four minutes later. Tyler Botte scored his second of the game to make it 5-2 in the 114th minute. Kingston would get a goal back in the 119th minute but Ledula sealed the win in the second minute of stoppage time for the 6-3 victory. The four goals scored in extra time by Long Island ties a Modern Era record.

Cameron Lancaster, the man who’s 88th minute goal in the 2017 USL Cup final gave Louisville City FC the title, will lead the charge for Louisville City as he has scored four goals this season for the club.







A week after a miracle comeback against their Premier Developmental League (PDL) rival, South Georgia Tormenta FC travel to Charleston to take on a red-hot Battery team in the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

Tormenta FC scored twice in the final 15 minutes with Jordan Walshaw’s free kick in the 82nd minute proved to be the winner in a 2-1 win over the Myrtle Beach Mutiny back on Wednesday, May 9.

The 2-1 result was Tormenta FC’s first-ever Open Cup victory and the club from Statesboro, Ga. is hoping to create a miracle but for them to do that, they will have to take down the Charleston Battery.

Charleston is no stranger to Open Cup runs, reaching the Quarterfinals four straight years from 2007 to 2010 with the 2008 team making it to the Final. The Battery have also reached the semifinals in 1999 and 2004. The Battery also haven’t lost an opening round Open Cup game in 12 years

The Battery are currently on a six-game unbeaten streak, with their last lost coming at the hands of New York Red Bulls II back on March 31. Charleston has won their last four games, including a 2-0 Southern Derby win over the Charlotte Indepence.

It is going to be a herculean task for Tormenta to defeat Charleston, especially when a player like Ataulla Guerra is firing on all cylinders. After scoring only six goals last season, Guerra has already scored five in nine United Soccer League matches.

Over the weekend, Tormenta FC kicked off their 2018 PDL campaign with a 2-2 draw against Peachtree City MOBA. Tormenta had to play from behind against Peachtree City but a penalty in the 65th minute from Manolo Sanchez helped secure a point for the club. For Tormenta, the goal for them in their matchup with Charleston is stop Guerra, which is easier said than done. Especially when a player like Gordan Wild can easily step up and score if Guerra has a rare night off.

If Seacoast United Phantoms win their Second Round match, the Phantoms will host the winner of the Battery and Tormenta FC. If the Elm City Express defeat the Phantoms, the Battery or Tormenta FC will be the host







This matchup will feature two newly re-branded clubs as the former Clarkstown Eagles, now FC Motown, take on the Harrisburg City Islanders, now known as Penn FC. FC Motown’s team in the Garden State Soccer League qualified for last year’s tournament, beating New Jersey Copa in Round 1 before falling to the Rochester Rhinos on the road.

This club carries on the history of the Eagles in the NPSL, a team that is taking part in the Open Cup for the third year in a row.

FC Motown reached the Second Round for the first time this season after a 2-1 win last week over the New York Red Bulls U-23s. The hero on the night was Dilaver Duka, a former MLS player from 2010-2017 including time with the Red Bulls just last season. Duka scored both the goals for Motown to send them into the second round. FC Motown have yet to begin league play so they should be well rested after last week’s win.

Their opponent, Penn FC have a reputation for being a club known for beating MLS sides in the later rounds of the Cup. While under their previous branding, Penn FC having eliminated MLS sides on five different occasions, most recently in 2012 when they upset the New England Revolution in Round 3 followed by a win over the New York Red Bulls in Round 4.

Penn FC currently sit in eleventh place in the USL Eastern Conference following a 1-0 win over Toronto II by a score of 1-0. They are led by the man who scored the NASL Soccer Bowl’s game winning goal last season and long time lower league standout striker Tommy Heinemann who has a knack for scoring in the Cup, with four career tallies in the tournament, including two last year with the now-defunct San Francisco Deltas.

The winner of this Round 2 match will have to travel in Round 3 to take on the winner of the Richmond Kickers vs. Reading United match next Wednesday.







The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Jacksonville Armada were once North American Soccer League (NASL) foes, but the Rowdies left to join the United Soccer League (USL) ahead of the 2017 season; a move that seems to have paid off well for them. The NASL cancelled its 2018 season and now the two clubs find themselves paired together in Round 2 of the US Open Cup.

Tampa Bay, who actually defeated the Armada’s U-23 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) side in the Second Round of last year’s tournament, currently find themselves in seventh place in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings, with four wins, and five losses in nine games. The Rowdies currently find themselves in a spell of bad form, having lost their last three league games. They have not won since a 2-0 victory over Real Monarchs SLC on April 21. Georgi Hristov leads the Rowdies with four goals on 15 shots this season and former English Premier League standout Joe Cole has chipped in a pair as well.

Jacksonville Armada have found their new home as a professional team in the NPSL. The Aramada got here by beating a pair of Premier Development League (PDL) teams, The Villages SC in the Preliminary Round, and a few days later, they defeated SIMA Aguilas 2-1 behind goals from Joshua Castellanos and Connor Doyle. The season is still young, but they’re off to a good start. They’ve taken four points from their first two league games and find themselves in second place in the NPSL Sunshine Conference standings. The Armada will also look across the field on Wednesday and see former midfielder Jack Blake dressed in green and yellow for the Rowdies. Blake scored nine goals in 27 appearances during the senior team’s 2017 NASL campaign.

The winner of this one will get to host the winner of Miami FC 2 (NPSL) and Miami United (NPSL) next week in the Third Round.







Hosting their First Round match at home last week, Miami United dispatched the USASA side FC Kendall 5-1, featuring a hat trick from David Ochoa. The club has now reached the Second Round in three of the last four years, and now will travel across town to FIU Soccer Stadium to face a fellow NPSL Sunshine Conference member who have placed a big emphasis on a tournament run, Miami FC 2.

After a tumultuous offseason which saw the parent club’s North American Soccer League cancel the 2018 season, and then having to petition US Soccer in order to gain entry to this year’s tournament, Miami FC 2 now features numerous players with pro experience in the lower divisions and are angling for another long tourney run. Last year, the senior team Miami FC made it all the way to the Quarterfinals where they lost a competitive match 1-0 to FC Cincinnati(USL). This year’s team features 11 players from last year’s NASL roster and has 20 players with Open Cup experience, including Don Smart, a former player with the USL’s Indy Eleven, who scored in the club’s Preliminary Round match & Tyler Polak, a member of that Cincinnati side.

The two clubs have actually already faced off twice this year, with a home-and-away series to open NPSL play in April. Both matches ended tied 1-1. After the two competitive matches, United has broken away from the rest of the teams and currently sits at the top of the Sunshine Conference table with 11 pts after five matches (3-0-2) and a goal difference of 16. Meanwhile, FC Cincinnati sits in the middle of the table with three draws in three matches.





After going four straight games without a goal, the Charlotte Independence piled four goals onto FC Cincinnati in a 4-1 win at Matthews Sportsplex on Saturday, May 12.

Charlotte’s next opponent is no stranger to scoring goals as the Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL) scored three goals in the first half in route to a 3-0 road win over AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL) on May 9 in the first round of the Open Cup.

Ocean City is making their ninth all-time appearance in the US Open Cup and are one of the most accomplished amateur teams of the Modern Era (1995-present). Only two amateur teams in the country (Michigan Bucks, Des Moines Menace) have more Open Cup wins (10) and pro team upsets than the Nor’easters. All five of their pro team upsets have been shutouts, something no amateur team has accomplished. Defense has been their calling card in the tournament. They have won 11 tournament games (including their time as a D-3 Pro League team) and of those 11 wins, 10 of them are shutouts.

They have another strong defense headlined by the Uros Ilic (NAIA National Player of the Year) and a pair of North Carolina Tar Heels in center back Sam Jones and goalkeeper Alex Smir. Smir, who made seven saves in last Wednesday’s shutout win over AFC Ann Arbor, is no stranger to tough games as he helped guide the Tar Heels to the 2017 NCAA College Cup, recording 22 saves in 12 games played, boasting a record of 10-1-1 in the ultra-competitive ACC.

Charlotte will have to find a way to get into Smir’s head if they want to recreate their barrage of goals they scored this past weekend. Jorge Herrera and Cordell Cato have combined to score seven goals for the Independence this season. They will need to be on top of their game if they want to lead the Independence to victory and into the next round of the US Open Cup. The Independence will try to recapture past glory as they reached the Round of 16 in their inaugural season in 2015. That year, they knocked off the Carolina RailHawks (now North Carolina FC) and the New England Revolution (MLS).

If North Carolina FC wins their Open Cup game, they will host the winner of this game (it would be the fourth straight year that Charlotte would face NCFC — a Modern Era first). If Lansdowne Bhoys win, the winner of this game will host.







The defender NPSL champion Elm City Express got a win in their US Open Cup debut last week, edging Western Mass Pioneers on the road, 2-1. It was the first win for a Connecticut team in the tournament since 2006 (Milford International). The Express got off to a slow start in league play, dropping their NPSL opener to Hartford City last weekend.

Seacoast United Phantoms, previously known as the New Hampshire Phantoms, are making their sixth appearance in club history, with three of those taking place in 2003, 2004 and 2006 when they were a pro team. They didn’t qualify as a PDL team until 2015 and now they have qualified for three of the last four years (2015, 2016, 2018). They defeated the Kendall Wanderers (PDL) in their first tournament home game since 2006.

If Seacoast wins, they will host the winner of the Charleston Battery and South Georgia Tormenta FC. If Elm City wins, they will travel to play the winner of Tormenta and the Battery in Round 3 next week.




Last year, FC Cincinnati stunned the country as they made it all the way to the US  Open Cup Semifinals. Now, they look to recreate that journey as their Open Cup run begins against Detroit City FC this Wednesday.

Detroit City FC is riding off of a high after they defeated local rival Michigan Bucks in a penalty shootout for the second year in a row. Detroit took an early second half lead thanks to Shawn Lawson but it was cancelled out after Afonso Pinheiro scored in the 84th minute, leveling things at one goal apiece.

Detroit would eventually pull out a 6-5 penalty shootout win over the Bucks, sending the crowd of 3,000-plus in attendance into a frenzy.

Detroit will be down a man as former pro, and former Michigan State Spartan Greg Janicki is facing a suspension following a red card he received in the 97th minute of their match against the Bucks. DCFC are playing in their fourth US Open Cup but have actually yet to win a game. Penalty kicks are a regular thing with this club as they have gone to penalty kicks in four of their five games. They are 2-2 in PK shootouts.

FC Cincinnati is looking for a bright spot after being thrashed 4-1 by the Charlotte Independence this past weekend. Before their 4-1 loss to Charlotte this past weekend, FC Cincinnati had scored 12 goals in four games. The Southern Ohio club sure can pour on the goals when they want to and they will have to do so if they want to defeat Detroit City FC.

The winner of this game will play on the road against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL) or the Erie Commodores (NPSL) next Wednesday.







Central Mississippi will be the site for a key Second Round US Open Cup match. Mississippi Brilla FC, who were victors in their first cup match against the New Orleans Jesters, will host the USL’s Indy Eleven.

Brilla topped the New Orleans Jesters on penalty kicks in a tense first round affair. The team has already equaled their best ever tournament appearance, which came last season. A win in this match would be historical for the club. No Mississippi team has ever reached the Third Round in tournament history.

The Indy Eleven will be making a fifth straight US Open Cup appearance. The former NASL champions now call the USL home, and they currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The Eleven have former MLS players such as Soony Saad, Justin Braun, and Jack McInerney in their ranks. They will be looking to make deep tournament run.

The winner will advance to Round 3 where they will play on the road against the winner of Nashville SC (USL) and Inter Nashville (NPSL).







Tulsa Roughnecks and FC Wichita are set to battle it out inside the University of Tulsa Soccer and Track Stadium in the Second Round of the US Open Cup.

FC Wichita reached the Second Round for the second straight year after dispatching Oklahoma City Energy U-23s, 3-1, in Wichita, Kan., last Wednesday. Leo Sosa bagged a first-half brace, and has three career goals in Open Cup competition.

Across all competitions, Jose Landaverde leads the squad with four goals. Steven Hamersky started in goal the first two matches for Wichita this season, but was replaced between the sticks by Mark Weir ahead of this past Saturday’s NPSL league match, a 4-2 win over Saint Louis Club Atletico. Were Wichita to prevail on Wednesday night, the club would reach the Third Round for the first time in club history.

The Roughnecks enter Wednesday’s match looking for their first win across all competitions in 2018 after opening USL play at 0-5-4. Tulsa were able to make a run in Open Cup play last year, however, with wins over OKC Energy U23 (5-3) and San Antonio FC (0-0 AET, 7-6 pen).

Offensively, Joaquin Rivas leads TRFC with four goals scored this season. Fabián Cerda, who was narrowly named TheCup.us Player of the Round for his performance against San Antonio FC, has collected 33 saves and one clean sheet in goal.







Duluth FC enters Round 2 off of a high-scoring penalty kick victory over fellow NPSL club Dakota Fusion FC. The teams were tied 4-4 at the end of extra time, but Duluth won quickly in penalty kicks with a 3-0 finish. It was just the second time in the Modern Era that a shootout has finished 3-0. They are the first amateur team from Minnesota to qualify for the tournament and are looking to make the best of their inaugural run.

Since its founding in 2015, Saint Louis FC has competed in every US Open Cup since. They’ve been quite successful in their short history, having reached the Fourth Round twice in those three years. Last season, they fell 1-0 to Chicago Fire in the Round 4.

If Louisville City defeats the Long Island Rough Riders in their game, they will host the winner of Saint Louis and Duluth FC. If Long Island wins, Saint Louis or Duluth FC will host in Round 3 next week.







The supporter-owned San Francisco City FC earned their first ever US Open Cup win in club history last week with an impressive 4-0 thumping of the NPSL side CD Aguiluchos USA. With that win the Iron and Gold earned a trip to face MLS hopefuls and USL powerhouse from the state’s capital, Sacramento Republic. Coming into last Wednesday, SF City was 0-2 in the Open Cup having lost to Cal FC in 2015 and to the Aguiluchos in 2016. They picked up that first Open Cup victory behind a master class coaching performance from Paddy Coyne and a dominant defensive midfield performance out of Onah Power. While the first round of the Open Cup could not have gone any more perfectly for City, their start to the PDL season has not gone so well. They are currently 0-3 while conceding 10 goals and have yet to score a single goal in league play.

Their opponent Sacramento has had a hot start to the season as they currently sit in third place of the USL Western Conference. The team has been transformed from last year under new head coach Simon Elliot and new general manager Todd Dunivant. They are coming off a tough loss to rivals Reno 1868 over the weekend in which they lost 3-2 as they will look to bounce back in the Open Cup. The Republic had their best ever Open Cup run a year ago when they were able to reach the fifth round following an historic 4-1 destruction of MLS side Real Salt Lake in the fourth round. They would go onto lose in the fifth round 2-0 to the LA Galaxy.

This match will take place at Sacramento State University Hornet Field with kick off coming at 5pm local time. The winner of this match up will face the winner of Reno and Timbers U23 in round 3.







Nashville SC in their inaugural USL season host Inter Nashville FC of the NPSL at the Vanderbilt Soccer Lacrosse Complex for the second round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Nashville SC comes into the match defeating defending USL champions Louisville City, 2-0 at home, this past Saturday. While Inter Nashville is still celebrating their 6-1 trouncing of the Charlotte Eagles last Wednesday night in Charlotte, the first US Open Cup win for a Nashville team in 20 years.

Inter Nashville’s Chuka Aruh, the 6’3, 208 lb forward is a beast with speed to match and he was named TheCup.us Player of the Round for his performance. The 2017 NPSL Offensive Player of the year, was impossible to contain for Charlotte as he scored a brace within the first six minutes of the match, followed up with his hat trick by the 35th minute. Ivan Sakou contributed to the win, recording a brace for Inter Nashville as well as the assist from this amazing bicycle kick.


Inter Nashville drove the ball hard and was able to make the passes and crosses that ultimately led to their 6-1 win over Charlotte.

For the pros from Nashville SC, Ropapa Mensah leads the team with three goals scored. However, Lebo Moloto recorded a brace against Louisville City this past Saturday in their 2-0 defeat of the reigning USL champions. Nashville sits right in the middle of the USL’s Eastern Conference table in 8th position with a 3-3-2 overall record. All 7 of Nashville goals have come from inside the box.

The winner of this game will stay home for Round 3. They will host the winner of the Mississippi Brilla and Indy Eleven next Wednesday.







Dallas-based NTX Rayados will look to survive and advance in the 2018 US Open Cup when they host OKC Energy of the United Soccer League (USL) on Wednesday night. Rayados defeated National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) side Fort Worth Vaqueros 2-1 in Round 1 last week.

NTX Rayados, founded in 2011, have qualified for the Open Cup every year of their existence and they’ll be looking to advance to the third round of the tournament for the first time 2014. That year they found themselves up 2-0 early against the San Antonio Scorpions of the North American Soccer League (NASL) but could not hold on and fell 4-2. This year’s squad, which does not practice on a regular basis, features a group of players who have returned home from college (where they play for their respective schools). Due to some consistently poor weather, the team had only played two league games prior to their first round match last week. But the team is taking things one game at a time and will look to carry the momentum from last week into their showing with OKC and they have plenty of reason to be optimistic about their chances.

OKC Energy currently find themselves at the bottom of the USL’s Western Conferfence standings, with one win and eight losses in nine games player so far this season. Steve Cooke could not have envisioned a worse start to his inaugural campaign when he replaced former MLS goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen as the club’s head coach this past offseason. Not only has the team conceded 17 goals in nine games, but the attack has also been horrendous with just three goals scored. If they’re going to rescue anything from their league campaign, they may need to look to the Open Cup for a spark.

The winner of this one will either host FC Wichita (NPSL) or head out on the road to face the Tulsa Roughnecks (USL) in Round 3.







South Texas will be well represented in this Second Round matchup when the United Soccer League’s (USL) San Antonio FC hit the road to take on the Midland-Odessa FC on Wednesday night. Midland-Odessa got here by way of a 3-0 win over the National Premier Soccer League’s (NPSL) Lakeland Tropics in Round 1 last week.

The hosts are still early in their season, having only played two games (including last weeks Round 1 affair) so far but they have looked sharped. Forward Xavier Lao has been especially impressive, having notched two goals (both from the penalty spot) and an assist in all competitions this season. His first half penalty gave the Sockers the lead and then in the second half he provided the assist to teammate Jhonatan Velasquez on the third and final goal. Lao also converted a penalty into what would prove to be the game winner in the Sockers’ NPSL season opener against FC Brownsville.

San Antonio FC currently find themselves in ninth place in the USL’s Western Conference standings with 13 points from their first nine games. They’ve been in good form recently though, having won two of their last three. Texas native Mikey Lopez, a former college star at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who also featured for several seasons in MLS, leads San Antonio with two goals this season and an impressive four shots on goal from five total, despite starting just three games.

The winner of this one will be fortunate enough to host the winner of FC Denver (USSSA) and Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL) in Round 3 next week.







The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC got their first win in almost a month this past weekend, defeating Las Vegas Lights FC 1-0. Prior to the win, the Switchbacks had gone on a four-match winless run and winning three of their first 10 matches to the 2018 USL season.

The Switchbacks are not the goal-scoring type club, only finding the back of the net 10 times in 11 matches. In fact, Switchbacks FC have been shutout in six matches this season.

That shutout statistic is music to Cesar Castillo’s ears as the FC Denver forward netted a hat trick in FC Denver’s 4-2 win over Azteca FC last Wednesday. Castillo is one of three players to score a hat trick in the First Round of the Open Cup.

Castillo will certainly look to expose the Switchbacks defense and find the back of the net like how he did in the first-round match. However, the Switchbacks have attacking prowess of their own with Shane Malcolm, Jordan Schweitzer and Akwafei Ajeakwa. Not to mention having Tobenna Uzo coming off the bench.

The winneer will travel south to take on the winner of Midland-Odessa FC (NPSL) and San Antonio FC (USL).




NPSL’s Orange County FC will travel north to take on USL expansion side Fresno FC.

Orange County FC defeated Santa Ana Winds 3-0 in the US Open Cup’s First Round. Daniel ten Bosch scored a brace and Alessandro Canale added a goal of his own. The club is coached by former US men’s national team midfielder Paul Caligiuri. Orange County FC’s match against Fresno will be their first official match against a professional club.

The USL’s Fresno FC will be playing their first ever USOC match. They enter the match with no wins in their previous seven fixtures, currently sitting 11th in the Western Conference. Jemal Johnson leads the Foxes with four goals on the season. Renato Bustamante and Christian Chaney are also dangerous attacking options.

The winner will host the winner of the Las Vegas Lights and FC Tucson in Round 3 next week.







FC Golden State Force will look to upset the USL’s Orange County SC in US Open Cup second round action.

In their First Round matchup, the 2017 PDL Western Conference champion FC Golden State Force topped LA Wolves 3-1, goals courtesy of Marcelo Manfredini, Allisson Faramilio, and Amilcar Lopez Ruiz. They advanced to the Second Round last season, but they were handily defeated by tonight’s opponent. This is the club’s second year in a row qualifying for the tournament and they have won both opening games in those appearances. (Last year: 2-0 vs. Outbreak SC)

Orange County SC enter the match as the fourth place team in the USL’s Western Conference. With new additions like captain Christian Duke, they have one of the league’s best midfields. Last season, they advanced to the Fourth Round of the US Open Cup, defeating Golden State Force and LA Wolves before losing to LA Galaxy 3-1. Last year’s run was a welcome sight to Orange County fans. Prior to last year, they had failed to win multiple games in five straight tournaments, including three straight one-and-done losses to amateur teams (2014-16).




The Phoenix Rising will enter the US Open Cup on a hot streak. They are unbeaten in their last six USL matches, and they will be hoping to keep the run alive in their first Cup match of the season. The team is captained and co-owned by former Chelsea FC great Didier Drogba. The Ivorian striker is tied for the team lead with four goals.

This is the fifth trip to the tournament for Phoenix Rising, the club formerly known as Arizona United SC, but they have only reached the Fourth Round one time and never beyond that.

Sporting AZ FC (UPSL) topped FC Arizona 1-0 to win their first ever Open Cup match. Jon Guse’s 73rd minute finish was the history-making goal. The team will be looking to pull off one of the shockers of the Second Round.







The Portland Timbers U-23s easily dispatched the Kitsap Pumas 5-0 in their first match of the US Open Cup. A second round appearance this year has already equaled their best tournament performance. Confidence is high in the team, as the 2017 Northwest Division Champions will be looking to pull off a road upset of Reno 1868 FC. This is the fifth trip to the tournament for the Timbers PDL team. The win over Kitsap Pumas was the club’s first win since 2013.

Reno 1868 had a memorable debut season last year, grabbing a spot in the USL Playoffs. They also made it to the Third Round of the Open Cup, and they will be looking to make an even deeper tournament run this year. The run last year came to an end at the hands of the USL’s Sacramento Republic. The team is managed by Ian Russell, a former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder.







Las Vegas Lights FC will play their first ever US Open Cup match when they host FC Tucson at UNLV’s Peter Johann Field.

The first professional soccer team in Sin City, Lights FC has broken the mold in their first USL season. They have groundbreaking sponsorship deals, flashy jerseys with emojis, and their own llamas. On the pitch, they are led by midfielder Carlos Alvarez. The former Chivas USA first round pick has three goals on the season. Mexican national team veteran Joel Huiqui and the flamboyant goalkeeper Ricardo Ferrino help control the opponents’ attack.

FC Tucson has been a symbol of success in the PDL. They’ve won the last four Mountain Division crowns. To get to this stage, they defeated La Maquina FC 2-1, with goals from Jason Romero and Alejandro Gonzalez. Tucson has lost to USL opponents the last two years, 5-0 to Phoenix Rising FC in 2016 and 2-0 to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in 2017.