Players from International Portland Select celebrate one of their goals in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifying match against JASA RWC. Photo: Ben McFarland
On Thursday morning, the United States Soccer Federation announced the draw for the fourth and final round of the Open Division Local Qualifying tournament for the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The games are expected to take place the weekend of April 6-7.
The dates, times and venues for each matchup are yet to be announced.
The matchups are created based on geography in an effort to minimize travel. Here is a brief look at all seven matches:
West Chester United (USASA/United Soccer Lg of PA)
Safira FC (USASA/New England Over-The-Hill Soccer Lg)
Safira FC from Massachusetts is attempting to qualify for the US Open Cup for the first time, while West Chester United are trying to return to the tournament for the first time since they made their tournament debut in 2016. Safira hasn’t had to leave the state of Massachusetts during their qualifying run as they have hosted all three games against fellow Bay State clubs. They defeated Mass United (Bay State Soccer League), Boston City FC II (UPSL) and needed penalty kicks to get past GPS Omens (Bay State Soccer League) to reach Round 4. West Chester United’s three wins came against three historic clubs, Vereinigung Erzebirge (Oakford, Pa.), four-time US Open Cup champion Ukrainain Nationals, and three-time US Open Cup champion New York Pancyprian Freedoms.
World Class Premier Elite FC (USASA/Maryland Major Soccer Lg)
Virginia United (ANFUSA/Woodbridge Soccer Lg)
Virginia United, the last remaining club from the Asociacion Nacional Fútbol en USA will get to host the last remaining Maryland-based club, World Class Premier Elite FC. Both clubs are seeking their first US Open Cup berth. United defeated fellow Woodbridge Soccer League team Centro America FC in Round 1 and then took out two of the best teams from the Maryland Major Soccer League (MMSL): Super Delegates FC and Christos FC. Now they will need to defeat a third straight MMSL power to clinch their first trip to the tournament. World Class Premier will have to win their fourth straight road game if they want to make their Open Cup debut. They knocked off fellow MMSL club Izee Auto FC, followed by a 6-0 win over Charlottesville Alliance FC Reserves (Va.), and an away win in western New York where they knocked off the Rochester Lancers 2.
America Soccer Club (USASA/UPSL)
Florida Soccer Soldiers (USASA/UPSL)
The last two Florida-based clubs will square off with the winner earning their first trip to the US Open Cup. America Soccer Club received a first round bye and then beat two Sunshine State teams at home in Winter Garden, Fla. (Orlando area) to reach the fourth round. They beat Central Florida FC Spartans, 2-1, and then Soda City FC Sorinex by the same scoreline. The Miami-based Florida Soccer Soldiers defeated the Miami Sun FC, Open Cup regular Red Force FC and cruised to a 6-0 road win over Hurricane FC to reach the final round.
IPS/Marathon Taverna (USASA/Oregon Prem. Lg)
Academica SC (USCS/LIGA NorCal)
Another pair of teams seeking their first US Open Cup berth will square off in Northern California. IPS/Marathon Taverna fell one game short of qualifying in 2017, and lost in the second round in 2018 before finding their way back to the final round this year. The Portland, Ore.-based club will play on the road for the first time in this qualifying cycle. They received a first round bye and defeated the Nevada Coyotes, 5-4, and then edged JASA RWC (Nor Cal), 3-2 to advance to Round 4. Academica SC won back-to-back home games in Turlock, Calif. with wins over the Davis Legacy and Contra Costa FC. The wildfires in Northern California caused their third round match to be postponed to Jan. 5 where they edged the Oakland Stompers, 1-0 to put themselves one win away from qualifying for the 106th edition of the US Open Cup.
FC Denver (USSSA/Colorado Amat. Soccer Lg)
Southwest FC (USASA/UPSL)
Last year, FC Denver qualified for the US Open Cup for the first time and if they want to return for the second year in a row, they will have to travel south to El Paso and defeat Southwest FC. This will be the first time that FCD will leave the state of Colorado in the tournament after wins over Indios Denver FC, Harpo’s FC and Gam United FC. After receiving a first round bye, Southwest traveled to the Phoenix area to defeat Sporting AZ FC, 4-1, and then picked up a 3-0 home win over San Juan FC (Utah). Southwest FC is attempting to become the first Open Division Local team from El Paso to qualify for the tournament in the Modern Era (1995-present).
FC Maritsa (USASA/UPSL)
NTX Rayados (USASA/North Texas Prem. Soccer Assoc.)
The North Texas (NTX) Rayados are on a quest to qualify for the US Open Cup for the eighth year in a row, which would extend their Modern Era record for an Open Division Local team. To do that, they will have to defeat first-time entry FC Maritsa, who are representing the city of St. Louis. The qualifying path for Rayados hasn’t been easy as they needed penalty kicks to overcome the Dallas Elite FC before earning a 2-0 win over fellow North Texas Premier Soccer Association rival Leon FC. After their original match was postponed, NTX had to wait until Jan. 12 to play their third round match on the road against Motagua of New Orleans, which they won in an 11-round penalty kick shootout. FC Maritsa received a first round bye and had a pair of tight games to advance to the final round: a 4-3 home win over FC Minnesota, and a penalty kick win on the road over Michigan’s Livonia City FC.
Cal FC (USASA/UPSL)
Santa Ana Winds FC (USASA/UPSL)
A pair of Southern California-based UPSL clubs will square off in the final round with a spot in the US Open Cup on the line. After a two-year hiatus, Cal FC has returned to the competition and notched a 3-1 win over San Nicolas FC and a 6-1 win over Outbreak FC to reach Round 3. Their original match with Cal United FC II was cut short when the lights went out at their stadium and the game was rescheduled for Jan. 16, when Cal FC won a penalty kick shootout 7-6. The club best known for their 2012 upset of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers are seeking their fourth US Open Cup berth and their first since 2015. After falling one game short of qualifying in 2017, the Winds finally made their US Open Cup debut last year. They had no trouble dispatching their first two qualifying opponents with a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Wolves (UPSL) and a 5-0 win over Lionside FC (UPSL). The Winds needed extra time to get past Buena Park FC (SoCal Premier League), 3-1, and receive a home game a “Win & You’re In” match with Cal FC.