The format for the 106th edition of the tournament has yet to be released, but the expectation is that there won’t be drastic changes. The Premier Development League (PDL) has held a fairly consistent qualifying process since 2012 where the league determines its entries based on the previous year’s results. The only changes have been the number of teams that the US Soccer Federation has awarded the PDL.
This weekend is the final weekend of the PDL, so teams and fans will not only be scoreboard watching for playoff positioning, but also to try to move up in the overall league standings to improve their chances of qualifying for next year’s US Open Cup.
In 2012 and 2013, the top 16 US-based PDL teams qualified for the tournament, while that number increased to 19 from 2014-16. In 2017, the top 21 teams got it, and in 2018, that number dipped to 20.
The 11 division winners will get an automatic berth into the tournament and the remaining teams are ranked by points (all teams play a 14-game schedule). However, the PDL confirmed to TheCup.us that in the case where a Canadian team leads the division, the second place team would not receive an automatic berth. So the Seattle Sounders Under-23s, currently second place team in the Northwest Division, are ranked among the rest of the teams.
The teams that qualify will join other Open Division teams, such as the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and local amateur qualifiers in the opening round of next year’s competition.
Below is the overall PDL standings (excluding Canadian clubs) updated after the games of Friday, July 13 and each team’s remaining games.
St. Louis Lions 1:3 Des Moines Menace
Texas United 1:4 Brazos Valley Cavalry FC
Dayton Dutch Lions 4:0 Cincinnati Dutch Lions
New York Red Bulls 3:1 Long Island Rough Riders
Peachtree City MOBA 0:6 Mississippi Brilla
Lansing United 6:1 Derby City Rovers
FC Tucson 2:1 Colorado Pride Switchbacks U-23s
UPDATE (July 13, 2018 – 8:58 p.m. ET) – Dayton Dutch Lions clinch division, spot in 2019 US Open Cup
The Dayton Dutch Lions cruised to a 4-0 road win over the Cincinnati Dutch Lions in the Dutch Lions Derby. With the win, Dayton clinched the Great Lakes Division and a spot in the 2019 US Open Cup. This will be the first time that Dayton will qualify for the US Open Cup since they joined the PDL (from the USL) in 2015. Their shining moment in the tournament was an incredible run to the Quarterfinals in 2012 which was highlighted by their trip down to Columbus where they upset the Columbus Crew 2-1. The upset was even more impressive considering at the time of the upset, Dayton was winless in league play.
UPDATE (July 13, 2018 – 9:10 p.m. ET) – Lansing United wins big to keep 2019 US Open Cup hopes alive
Lansing United dominated Derby City 6-1 to jump from 26th into 18th place in the overall standings. With 23 points and a lot of teams in contention, they will probably need at least another point (maybe all three) to have a shot at returning to the US Open Cup for the first time since 2015 when they qualified as a member of the NPSL. Obviously with other games still to be played tonight, they may not hold at No. 18, but to be in the Top 20 is a solid spot to be in. The win also puts them into second place in the Great Lakes Division behind Dayton who clinched the division title just minutes before.
UPDATE (July 13, 2018 – 9:33 p.m. ET) – New York Red Bulls clinch PDL playoff spot, in great shape for #USOC2019 with 3-1 win over Long Island Rough Riders
The New York Red Bulls Under-23s will be entering their 8th season in 2019, and with Friday’s 3-1 win over the Long Island Rough Riders they locked up two things: A PDL playoff spot as the top second place team in the Eastern Conference, and most likely a spot in the 2019 US Open Cup as the best record among the non-division winners. Out of those eight seasons (four of them in the NPSL, the last four in the PDL), they will likely participate in the US Open Cup for the fifth time (and the second year in a row).
Despite this being the final game of the season for Long Island, the Rough Riders are still in prime position to qualify for the 2019 US Open Cup. They are just three points behind the Red Bulls and 28 points should be enough to get them into the tournament for the second year in a row and the fourth time in the last five years.
UPDATE (July 13, 2018 – 10:03 p.m. ET) – Mississippi Brilla look primed to return to the US Open Cup for second year in a row
Mississippi Brilla entered the weekend likely needing a pair of wins to put themselves in position to qualify for the US Open Cup for the fifth time in team history. Luckily for them, both games this weekend are against Peachtree City MOBA and both of them are at home. Friday’s win could be a sign of things to come with a 6-0 win over City. If they can replicate that performance, they will surely find themselves in the tournament for the second year in a row. The win, at the time this was written, jumped them from 22nd to 15th and a win against Peachtree on Sunday could see them reach as high as 12th, which would most likely be more than enough to qualify. The 2017 tournament was a historic one for Brilla as they became the first Mississippi-based club in the history of the tournament to reach the Third Round as they upset the USL’s Indy Eleven in Round 2.
UPDATE (July 13, 2018 – 10:42 p.m. ET) – Undefeated Menace clinch PDL regular season title; Brazos Valley Cavalry clinch division, first US Open Cup berth
The Des Moines Menace clinched a rare undefeated season in the PDL with a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Lions. The Menace clinch the PDL regular season title with the win. Des Moines is one of the best amateur teams of the Modern Era (1995-present) when it comes to the US Open Cup, which is why many were surprised when they did not qualify for the 2018 US Open Cup. Only the Michigan Bucks have more pro team upsets than the Menace (7) and if you include the Menace’s “reserve” team that qualified through the USASA in 2011 and 2014, the Menace were represented in the tournament for eight years in a row before missing out in 2018.
Elsewhere, Brazos Valley Cavalry FC will make their US Open Cup debut in 2019 as they clinched the Mid-South Division with a 4-1 win over Texas United. The club based in Bryan, Texas (near College Station) jumps up to 5th on the overall qualifying table.
UPDATE (July 13, 2018 – 11:06 p.m. ET) – FC Tucson stays alive with narrow 2-1 win in final Friday game
FC Tucson kept their PDL playoff and 2019 US Open Cup hopes alive with a 2-1 win over Colorado Pride Switchbacks Under-23s. Considering the teams around them in the standings, FC Tucson likely has to beat the Switchbacks against on Saturday night to have a chance of qualifying for the US Open Cup for the fifth year in a row and the sixth time over the last seven years.
That concludes the Friday games. It will be a busy day of games on Saturday as the 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tables starts to take shape. Check back here and on Twitter @USOpenCup for updates.
Saturday games (All Times Eastern):
Houston FC 2:3 OKC Energy U-23s
FC Tucson 3:1 Colorado Pride Switchbacks U-23s
Sounders FC U-23s 0:2 Calgary Foothills FC
IMG Academy Bradenton 0:5 The Villages SC
North Carolina FC U-23s 2:2 Charlotte Eagles
Lehigh Valley United 2:3 Reading United AC
South Georgia Tormenta FC 2:1 Tri-Cities Otters
Weston FC 0:5 Lakeland Tropics
West Virginia Chaos 1:5 Michigan Bucks
Carolina Dynamo 1:1 SC United Bantams
FC Golden State Force 1:0 Ventura County Fusion
UPDATE (July 15, 2018 – 12:15 a.m. ET) – The Villages leapfrogs SIMA Aguilas as division comes down to final day; Michigan Bucks, FC Tucson stay alive with wins
The Villages SC are attempting to qualify for the US Open Cup for the seventh year in a row and after a 5-0 win over IMG Academy Bradenton, they have put themselves atop the Southeast Division. For the moment. SIMA Aguilas will play their final game on Sunday so they have a chance to win the division and clinch a spot in the 2019 US Open Cup. However, even if SIMA Aguilas defeats FC Miami City on Sunday, The Villages finish the season with 30 points which should be enough to get them in as an at-large bid.
FC Tucson defeated the Colorado Pride Switchbacks U-23s for the second night in a row and moved up into the Top 20 as they wrap up their regular season schedule. They are aiming for their fifth straight US Open Cup berth but they will have to do some scoreboard watching on Sunday and hope that teams like GPS Portland Phoenix, the Ocean City Nor’easters and Lansing United don’t leapfrog them.
Barring a massive expansion of PDL entries for the 2019 US Open Cup, Sounders FC U-23s will likely miss out on the tournament for the second year in a row after losing their final game to the Calgary Foothills FC. Their best chance is that if the PDL rules that the Sounders get an automatic berth as the top US-based team in the Northwest Division. However, with a 6-5-3 record, that might be a tough sell.
North Carolina FC U-23s had a chance to move up and challenge for a spot in the tournament for the first time since 2010 but a 2-2 draw against the defending PDL champion Charlotte Eagles hurt that effort as they finish the regular season with 23 points and will scoreboard watch on Sunday sitting at No. 22.
Reading United AC and South Georgia Tormenta both won their Saturday games to join the Des Moines Menace in a trio of teams that are undefeated. Tormenta, who still have one more game left on Sunday to finish the season undefeated, will participate in their second straight US Open Cup while Reading United will take part in their 11th consecutive US Open Cup next year. United adds to their Modern Era record as the only amateur team in the Modern Era to have 11 consecutive trips to the tournament.
The Lakeland Tropics may have done enough to punch their ticket with a convincing 5-0 win over Weston FC. The Tropics finish the season with 30 points and will most likely get in as an at-large bid and get them back in the tournament for the second year in a row and the second time in team history.
SC United Bantams had a chance to put themselves into a safe part of the qualifying table, but they were only able to earn a draw in their season finale against the Carolina Dynamo. Now the Bantams are squarely on the bubble and will be scoreboard watching on Sunday hoping that they don’t get passed by too many teams.
And finally, one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 PDL season has been the struggles and inconsistency of the Michigan Bucks. The undisputed best amateur team of the Modern Era suffered a 1-0 home loss to the Cincinnati Dutch Lions back on July 7, and the Bucks hit the panic button and they have responded with dominant results. They destroyed the Derby City Rovers 14-1 (yes, 14-1) on the road and followed that up with a 5-1 home win over the West Virginia Chaos on Saturday night. The only hope the Bucks have of qualifying is if they win their season finale on the road against the Cincinnati Dutch Lions on Monday, the final game on the PDL schedule. The Bucks have been piling on the offense in the last few games because they know that qualifying could come down to goal difference. If they win their season finale and teams like GPS Portland Phoenix, the Ocean City Nor’easters and Lansing United end up tied with them at 24 points, they would win the tiebreaker going away and could finish as high as No. 18. But there is still a lot of soccer to be played on Sunday.
In the final game of the night, FC Golden State Force edged the Ventura County Fusion 1-0 to add to their impressive 2018 resume. They finish with a 12-1-1 record, while the Fusion’s hopes of returning to the tournament took a hit. Ventura County finishes the night sitting at No. 24 as they were hoping to get back to the tournament after missing out in 2018. Prior to that, the Fusion had qualified for eight consecutive tournaments from 2010-17.
Stay tuned for updates on Sunday as the qualifying picture should be squared away ahead of Monday’s finale with the Michigan Bucks and the Cincinnati Dutch Lions.
Sunday games (All Times Eastern):
Lansing United 3:0 Dayton Dutch Lions
Corpus Christi FC 1:2 OKC Energy U-23s
Western Mass Pioneers 3:2 GPS Portland Phoenix
South Georgia Tormenta FC 1:1 Myrtle Beach Mutiny
New York Red Bulls U-23s 1:2 Ocean City Nor’easters
FC Miami City 0:5 SIMA Aguilas
Peachtree City MOBA 1:2 Mississippi Brilla FC
San Francisco City FC 2:0 Santa Cruz Breakers FC
UPDATE (July 15, 2018 – 5:55 p.m. ET) – Lansing United most likely have qualified with a win over Dayton Dutch Lions
Lansing United ended their inaugural regular season in the PDL (after moving from the NPSL) with a 3-0 win over the Dayton Dutch Lions. United may have benefited from a Dutch Lions team that has already clinched the Great Lakes Division title (and a spot in the 2019 US Open Cup) and are looking ahead to the PDL playoffs. At the time of the final whistle, United makes the jump from 21st to 15th on the qualifying table. Lansing is most likely safe within the top 20 (the top 20 teams qualified last year) because only four teams can leapfrog them in the standings, so at worst they will finish at No. 19. United made their US Open Cup debut in 2015 as a member of the NPSL, but have not qualified since.
UPDATE (July 15, 2018 – 7:24 p.m. ET) – OKC Energy U-23s likely back in the tournament with win
OKC Energy U-23s appear to be headed back to the US Open Cup for the third year in a row with a 2-1 win over Corpus Christi FC. As of the final whistle, they are ranked No. 14 and can only be topped by one team, so a Top 15 finish should be safe.
UPDATE (July 15, 2018 – 8:14 p.m. ET) – GPS Portland Phoenix stunned by Western Mass Pioneers in final minutes, now squarely on the bubble for 2019 USOC
With three minutes left, the GPS Portland Phoenix were in control with a 2-1 lead over the Western Mass Pioneers. A win would put them in prime position to qualify for the 2019 US Open Cup. GPS, a team that has qualified for the tournament in five of the last seven years, saw that lead slip away. The Pioneers equalized off a corner kick and then won the game on a set piece goal in the final minutes. After the final whistle, the Phoenix are sitting in 20th place in the qualifying table and two teams (Ocean City Nor’easters, Michigan Bucks) could pass them by in the standings. So the Phoenix are clearly on the bubble and will need those two teams to lose their final game to have a chance at staying in the Top 20.
UPDATE (July 15, 2018 – 9:25 p.m. ET) – SIMA overtakes The Villages for division title on final day; Ocean City safe inside Top 20 with win over Red Bulls,
SIMA blanked FC Miami City 5-0 on Sunday night to leapfrog The Villages SC to win the Southeast Division title and book a spot in the 2019 US Open Cup. Despite missing out on the division title, The Villages still finish the season in 12th place in the qualifying table with 30 points, which should assure them a spot in the 106th edition of the tournament. SIMA will take part in the tournament for the second time in club history and the second year in a row.
Elsewhere, a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean, the Ocean City Nor’easters pulled off a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls Under-23s to also put themselves firmly in the Top 20. Alex Rose and Deri Corfe scored for the Nor’easters. Corfe currently leads the 2018 US Open Cup in assists with four. The Nor’easters will take part in the tournament for the third year in a row and the 10th time in club history. Only two amateur teams in the Modern Era (Michigan Bucks, Des Moines Menace) have more Open Cup wins (11) and pro team upsets (6)
UPDATE (July 15, 2018 – 9:27 p.m. ET) – Two division champs cancel each other out
There was nothing to play for when South Georgia Tormenta and the Myrtle Beach Mutiny squared off in their respective regular season finale. Each team had won their division and were looking ahead to next week’s PDL Conference tournaments. The teams finished with a 1-1 draw. South Georgia finishes 4th in the qualifying table, while the Mutiny inch ahead of the Colorado Rapids Under-23s to finish in 8th place. The only meaningful game of the night is the Mississippi Brilla taking on Peachtree City. Brilla are likely safe at No. 17, but a win would all but assure their safety.
UPDATE (July 15, 2018 – 10:40 p.m. ET) – Mississippi Brilla should return to US Open Cup with season finale win; Final PDL game on Monday is a big one
Mississippi Brilla picked up a 2-1 win over Peachtree City to put themselves in prime position to qualify for the second year in a row and the third time in four years. They jumped to 15th in the table with the win.
The final game of the 2018 PDL regular season will take place on Monday at 7 p.m. when the Cincinnati Dutch Lions will host the Michigan Bucks. The winner of the game will move themselves into the Top 21 (Bucks would be 19th, Dutch Lions would be 21st). A draw would leave both teams in trouble with the Bucks finishing 24th and the Dutch Lions in 25th.
Michigan Bucks 3:3 Cincinnati Dutch Lions
UPDATE (July 16, 2018 – 9:15 p.m. ET) – Michigan Bucks stage big comeback but draw vs. Cincinnati Dutch Lions likely hurts both teams.
The Michigan Bucks, the most successful amateur team of the US Open Cup’s Modern Era (1995-present), will likely miss out on the 2019 US Open Cup after a 3-3 draw with the Cincinnati Dutch Lions. The Bucks fell behind 3-0 but rallied to score three unanswered goals to earn a 3-3 draw. With the draw, both teams are well outside the Top 20 with the Bucks finishing 24th and the Dutch Lions right behind them in 25th. So unless the PDL is awarded some additional spots (the most the league has ever received was 21 in 2017), then both teams appear to be on the outside looking in.
|W||L||D||PTS||GD||x-Division leader | y-Clinched division|
|1||y-Des Moines Menace||13||0||1||40||+31||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|2||y-Reading United AC||12||0||2||38||+25||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|3||y-FC Golden State Force||12||1||1||37||+28||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|4||y-South Georgia Tormenta FC||11||0||3||36||+20||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|5||y-SIMA Aguilas||10||2||2||32||+17||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|6||y-Brazos Valley Cavalry FC||9||2||3||30||+23||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|7||y-Black Rock FC||9||2||3||30||+14||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|9||y-Myrtle Beach Mutiny||8||2||4||28||+21||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|8||y-Colorado Rapids U-23s||8||2||4||28||+19||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|10||y-Dayton Dutch Lions||8||3||3||27||+14||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|11||New York Red Bulls U-23s||10||3||1||31||+28||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|12||The Villages SC||9||2||3||30||+23||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|13||Lakeland Tropics||9||2||3||30||+16||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|14||OKC Energy U-23s||9||4||1||28||+15||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|15||Mississippi Brilla FC||8||2||4||28||+13||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|16||Long Island Rough Riders||9||4||1||28||+10||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|17||Ocean City Nor’easters||9||5||0||27||+7||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|18||Lansing United||7||2||5||26||+15||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|19||FC Tucson||7||3||4||25||+10||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|20||SC United Bantams||7||4||3||24||+13||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|21||GPS Portland Phoenix||7||4||3||24||+7||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|22||North Carolina FC U-23s||6||3||5||23||+6||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|23||Chicago FC United||7||5||2||23||+3||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|24||Michigan Bucks||6||4||4||22||+24||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|25||Cincinnati Dutch Lions||6||4||4||22||+7||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|26||Ventura County Fusion||7||6||1||22||+2||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|27||Sounders FC U-23s||6||5||3||21||+5||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|28||AHFC Royals||7||7||0||21||0||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|30||St. Louis Lions||6||6||2||20||+2||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|29||Santa Cruz Breakers FC||6||6||2||20||+0||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|31||Corpus Christi FC||6||6||2||20||+0||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|32||Fresno FC U-23s||6||6||2||20||-1||NO GAMES REMAINING|
|33||IMG Academy Bradenton||6||6||2||20||-6||NO GAMES REMAINING|