Finalists for 2018 TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament (from left to right): Christian Okeke of NTX Rayados, Allisson Faramilio of FC Golden State Force, Tim Dobrowolski and Brian Ownby of Louisville City, Marios Lomis of North Carolina FC.
UPDATE: Allisson Faramilio of FC Golden State Force edged Christian Okeke for the 2018 TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament
The heart of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is the underdog stories that arise nearly every year. Amateur teams and lower division professional teams attempt to make a name for themselves as they try to put themselves on the same field, and possibly defeat, teams from Major League Soccer.
Each year, TheCup.us has a Player of the Tournament award, but in 2012, an additional honor was added: TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament. The goal is to honor the players on lower division teams who have stood out and helped their team make a memorable run in the competition.
The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters but if YOU had a vote, which player do you think would win?
Here are the finalists (in alphabetical order):
Tim Dobrowolski (Louisville City FC – USL)
Dobrowolski played every minute in goal for Louisville City as they made their first trip to the Quarterfinals in the club’s short history. Louisville was the last lower division team standing, which earned them $25,000 in prize money. Dobrowolski earned a pair of shutouts in City’s first two games, then helped the team upset the New England Revolution (MLS) and defeat USL rival Nashville SC before the run ended with a one-sided loss to the Chicago Fire (MLS) on the road.
Round 2: 1 save, faced 3 shots in a 5-0 home win vs. Long Island Rough Riders (PDL)
Round 3: 2 saves, faced 11 shots in a 1-0 home win vs. Saint Louis FC (USL)
Round 4: 7 saves, 9 shots faced, 2 goals allowed (1 was an own goal) in a 3-2 home win vs. New England Revolution (MLS)
Round 5: 2 saves, 15 shots faced, 1 goal allowed in a 2-1 home win vs. Nashville SC (USL)
Quarterfinals: 3 saves, 17 shots faced, 4 goals allowed in a 4-0 road loss at Chicago Fire (MLS)
Allisson Faramilio (FC Golden State – PDL)
Faramilio scored at least one goal in each of the first three games of the tournament for FC Golden State Force as the PDL side became just the 14th amateur side (16th open division team) to reach the Fourth Round since 1996. Faramilio helped his team upset a pair of pro teams from the USL and his two-goal performance in Golden State’s 2-1 upset of the Las Vegas Lights in Round 3 earned him TheCup.us Player of the Round honors.
Round 1: Started, played 72 mins., scored the game-winning goal in a 3-1 home win over the Los Angeles Wolves FC (USASA)
Round 2: Started, played 76 mins., scored a PK goal in a 4-2 road win at Orange County SC (USL)
Round 3: Started, played 90 mins., scored 2 goals in a 2-1 home win vs. Las Vegas Lights (USL)
Round 4: Started, played 84 mins. in a 3-1 road loss at Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Marios Lomis (North Carolina FC – USL)
Lomis did everything he could to help North Carolina FC make a deep run in the US Open Cup. The Dutch forward scored a goal in all three games until the team’s run came to a halt in the Fourth Round when they lost a penalty kick shootout to D.C. United (MLS). Lomis converted his attempt, but NCFC would fall short, 4-3.
Round 2: Started, played 90 mins., scored 1 goal in a 3-0 home win vs. Lansdowne Bhoys FC (USASA)
Round 3: Started, played 90 mins., had 1 goal, 1 assist in a 4-1 home win vs. Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL)
Round 4: Started, played 120 mins., scored 1 goal in a 1-1 road draw at D.C. United (MLS), scored in the PK shootout but lost 4-3
Christian Okeke (NTX Rayados – USASA)
Okeke was this year’s super sub, coming off the bench in all four games for NTX Rayados and scoring three game-winning goals to help the Dallas-based amateur side reach the Fourth Round. That trip to the Fourth Round earned them a date with the Houston Dynamo (MLS) and was the furthest the team had advanced out of their eight consecutive trips to the tournament, a streak started in 2012. Okeke’s best performance came in the Second Round when he scored the game-tying penalty kick in the 90th minute and then scored what would be the game-winning goal in the 105th minute in a 5-2 extra time win over the USL’s OKC Energy FC. It was the Rayados’ first win over a pro team and it earned Okeke TheCup.us Player of the Round honors.
Round 1: 2nd half sub in the 53rd min., scored the game-winning goal in the 114th min. in a 2-1 OT home win vs. Fort Worth Vaqueros (NPSL)
Round 2: 2nd half sub in the 65th min., scored the game-tying goal in the 90th min. and the game-winner in the 105th min. in a 5-2 OT home win vs. OKC Energy FC (USL)
Round 3: 2nd half sub in the 64th min., scored the game-winner in the 86th min. in a 3-2 home win vs. FC Wichita (NPSL)
Round 4: 2nd half sub in the 53rd min. in a 5-0 road loss at Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Brian Ownby (Louisville City FC – USL)
There were several key field players that helped Louisville City FC reach the Quarterfinals of this year’s US Open Cup. It was a difficult decision, but Brian Ownby’s overall performance, highlighted by his TheCup.us Player of the Round performance in an upset of the New England Revolution (MLS) helped him stand out. Ownby was a consistent offensive threat for City in all four of their wins
Round 2: 2nd half sub in the 62nd min., scored 1 goal in a 5-0 home win vs. Long Island Rough Riders (PDL)
Round 3: Started, played 71 mins., in a 1-0 home win vs. Saint Louis FC (USL)
Round 4: Started, played 78 mins., assisted on the first goal and scored the game-winner in the 62nd min. in a 3-2 home win vs. New England Revolution (MLS)
Round 5: Started, played 75 mins. in a 2-1 home win vs. Nashville SC (MLS)
Quarterfinals: Started, played 90 mins. in a 4-0 road loss at Chicago Fire (MLS)
Past winners of TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament
2012: Danny Barrera (Cal FC – USASA)
2013: Ty Shipalane (Carolina RailHawks – NASL)
2014: Scott Goodwin (Carolina RailHawks – NASL)
2015: Michael Salazar (PSA Elite – USASA)
2016: Diego Restrepo (Fort Lauderdale Strikers – NASL)
2017: Mitch Hildebrandt (FC Cincinnati – USL)