2019 US Open Cup Qualifying: Previewing all six “Win & You’re In” weekend games

Posted by | April 4, 2019

UPDATE: 2019 US Open Cup qualifying scores / schedule

This weekend, the last six entries into the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup will be determined.

The fourth and final round of the Open Division Local Qualifying tournament for the 106th edition of the US Open Cup will feature four games on Saturday, April 6 and two more on Sunday, April 7. The winner of each game will punch their ticket to the competition that has been crowning a national championship since the tournament launched in 1913.

For teams this weekend, it’s very simple: “Win & You’re In.”

Two Open Division Local teams (clubs that are not part of USL League Two or the National Premier Soccer League) have already clinched a spot in the competition.

Florida Soccer Soldiers (Miami, Fla.) got a free pass after their final round opponents America Soccer Club (Jacksonville, Fla.) withdrew after deciding to go on hiatus due to financial troubles. The Soccer Soldiers will be competing in the US Open Cup for the first time.

Milwaukee-based Bavarian SC, who have been entering the US Open Cup since the 1950s, are back in the tournament for the first time since 2009. They earned their spot by winning the 2018 USASA Amateur Cup.

Of the 12 teams playing this weekend, seven are seeking their first-ever trip to the Open Cup. The five teams that have qualified before include West Chester United (2016), FC Denver (2018), Santa Ana Winds (2018), Cal FC (2012, 2014-15), and NTX Rayados (2012-18). Cal FC made a name for themselves in a big way during their Open Cup debut in 2012 when they won three straight road games, including a stunning 1-0 extra time win over the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. NTX Rayados are aiming to qualify for the eighth year in a row, which would add to their Modern Era (1995-present) record for an Open Division Local team.

According to multiple teams, none of this weekend’s games will be streamed after the participants received a notice from the federation. It stated that “teams are NOT allowed to stream or broadcast your upcoming U.S. Open Cup 4th Round Qualifying match (this includes, Periscope, Twitter, Facebook live etc.)” The same email stated that the federation will be making an announcement soon regarding an “exciting new broadcast partner” for the 2019 tournament.

Stay tuned.

(All Times Eastern)

SATURDAY, APRIL 6

2019 US Open Cup qualifying - West Chester United vs. Safira FC
LIVE VIDEO: NONE

Preview by Michael Berton

Players from West Chester United and Vereinigung Erzebirge battle for the ball in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tournament game. Photo: Matt Ralph | BrotherlyGame.com

Players from West Chester United and Vereinigung Erzebirge battle for the ball in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tournament game. Photo: Matt Ralph | BrotherlyGame.com

Two northeastern heavyweights will battle it out with an Open Cup spot on the line on April 6 when Safira FC hosts West Chester United.

Safira FC is seeking its first US Open Cup berth. Perhaps more well-known in futsal circles as four-time US Futsal national champions, Safira nonetheless has proven it can dominate in the outdoor game as well. Safira won the UPSL Northeast Conference Patriot Division in the 2018 spring season with a 9-1-2 record, and has been making strides on the amateur circuit for several years.

In the qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup, the Massachusetts club hosted three games in a row, defeating Mass United (UPSL) 3-1, before eliminating a pair of Bay State Soccer League teams in Boston City II 4-1, and GPS Omens 7-6 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw.

West Chester United has dominated Eastern Pennsylvania soccer for nearly a decade. The club has become one of the top amateur teams in the country, winning the Werner Fricker Open Cup in 2015 and making it to the final of the 2018 National Amateur Cup.

Since the club’s first and only US Open Cup appearance in 2016, which included a win over Fredericksburg FC of the NPSL and a loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL (now Penn FC), the West Chester brand has grown. The Pennsylvania side joined the NPSL, in addition to still having a team compete in the United Soccer League of Pennsylvania. That USL-PA squad won the 2017-2018 league season with a perfect 20-0-0 record, and lead the league in the current season with a 9-1-0 record.

Safira FC celebrate after they advance with a 7-6 PK shootout win (2-2 draw) over GPS Omens in the 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Chris Aduama | Aduama.com

Safira FC celebrate after they advance with a 7-6 PK shootout win (2-2 draw) over GPS Omens in the 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Chris Aduama | Aduama.com

Unlike Safira, which hosted all three of its qualifying games, West Chester has been on the road for all three of its qualifiers. All of their opponents feature rich histories of their own, and two are former US Open Cup champions. In the first round, United took down fellow Pennsylvania side Vereinigung Erzgebirge, 1-0, a club that dates back to 1931 . They stayed in the Philadelphia area for Round 2 when they defeated the four-time US Open Cup champion Ukrainian Nationals, 3-0. They then took a trip to the Big Apple in the third round where they defeated three-time champions New York Pancyprian Freedoms, 3-0.

Safira and West Chester United have met once before. On a neutral site in Pennsylvania, the clubs played in the 2018 Region I Final of the National Amateur Cup. Despite receiving a red card in the 9th minute, United won the contest 2-0 in extra time.

How they got here:

West Chester United (United Soccer League of Pennsylvania)
Round 1: W, 1-0 at Vereinigung Erzebirge (USLPA)
Round 2: W, 3-0 at Ukrainian Nationals (USLPA)
Round 3: W, 3-0 at NY Pancyprian Freedoms (Cosmopolitan Soccer League)

Safira FC (UPSL)
Round 1: W, 3-1 vs. Mass United FC (UPSL)
Round 2: W, 4-1 vs. Boston City FC II (Bay State Soccer League)
Round 3: D, 2-2 (7-6 PKs) vs. GPS Omens (Bay State Soccer League)

2019 us open cup qualifying - fc maritsa vs ntx rayados
LIVE VIDEO: NONE

Preview by Adam Uthe

Players from the Houston Dynamo (orange) and NTX Rayados battle for the ball in their Fourth Round match in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Jose Castellanos | Prost Amerika

Players from the Houston Dynamo (orange) and NTX Rayados battle for the ball in their Fourth Round match in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Jose Castellanos | Prost Amerika

There could be a changing of the guard on display when Dallas-based NTX Rayados host St Louis’ FC Maritsa in Saturday’s “Win & You’re In” qualifier. Rayados will be looking to qualify for their eighth consecutive US Open Cup while Maritsa are attempting to clinch their first-ever appearance.

The disparities don’t end there.

The two sides took very different paths to get to this point. Maritsa earned a bye in the first round of qualifying before taking down FC Minnesota 4-3 in the second round game against the Minnesota Amateur Soccer League side. In the third round, they made the trek to Michigan and played 120 minutes of scoreless soccer against Livonia City FC of the Michigan Premier Soccer League before ultimately prevailing 7-6 in the penalty shootout. Center back Rob Acosta scored the winning penalty for Maritsa.

Rayados needed to work just a little harder to get to this point. In Round 1 of qualifying they overcame multiple extra time deficits AND a controversial overturned penalty kick goal to defeat Dallas Elite FC of the UPSL 4-3 in the penalty shootout after tying 4-4 in regulation. Round 2’s 2-0 victory over Leon FC (North Texas Premier Soccer Association) was a little more straightforward, but Rayados would need penalties once again in Round 3. After their November date had to be postponed, they met longtime qualifying rivals CD Motagua (Gulf Coast Premier League) of New Orleans in January. Tying 1-1 in regulation, they advanced 10-9 after 11 rounds in the shootout. The two sides have been scheduled to play each other in qualifying every year since 2013.

Players from FC Maritsa (green) and FC Minnesota challenge for the ball during their 2019 US Open Cup qualifying match. Photo: Mark Zimmerman

Players from FC Maritsa (green) and FC Minnesota challenge for the ball during their 2019 US Open Cup qualifying match. Photo: Mark Zimmerman

Last year, in their seventh consecutive trip to the tournament, NTX Rayados enjoyed, without question, their most successful Cup run in club history. They hosted a US Open Cup game for the first time and won three in a row in front of their home fans. They defeated the NPSL’s Fort Worth Vaqueros, 2-1 in extra time, and then exploded for three goals in extra time to earn their first pro upset over the USL’s Oklahoma City Energy FC, 5-2. After edging FC Wichita (NPSL) in Round 3, they earned a date with the Houston Dynamo of MLS. They held the game scoreless in the first half before falling 5-0 to the eventual US Open Cup champions, but it helped put the club on the map.

The season has just begun, but Rayados are off to a good start in the very competitive North Texas Premier Soccer Association. The club is undefeated with a 3-0-1 record.

FC Maritsa are members of the UPSL and don’t begin league play until later this spring.

If FC Maritsa are able to advance, they would be just the second Open Division Local team to qualify from the state of Missouri. The only other team to do it was the KC Athletics in 2010. NTX Rayados, on the other hand, already own the Modern Era (1995-present) record for consecutive US Open Cup qualifications by an Open Division Local side; a win on Saturday would simply extend the current streak. Will the streak continue or will a new dynasty be born in 2019?

How they got here:

FC Maritsa (UPSL)
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: W, 4-3 vs. FC Minnesota (Minnesota Amateur Soccer League)
Round 3: D, 0-0 (6-5 PKs) at Livonia City FC (Michigan Premier Soccer League)

NTX Rayados (North Texas Premier Soccer Association)
Round 1: D, 4-4 (4-3 PKs) at Dallas Elite FC (UPSL)
Round 2: W, 2-0 vs. Leon FC (North Texas Premier Soccer Association)
Round 3: D, 1-1 (10-9 PKs) at Motagua of New Orleans (Gulf Coast Premier League)

2019 us open cup qualifying - fc denver vs. Southwest fc
LIVE VIDEO: NONE

Preview by Phil Baki

Southwest FC celebrates in the locker room after the club's 3-0 win over San Juan FC in the 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Southwest FC

Southwest FC celebrates in the locker room after the club’s 3-0 win over San Juan FC in the 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Southwest FC

This fourth qualifying round is uncharted territory for a pair of amateur teams looking for a berth into the 2019 US Open Cup. Looking at the roads that Southwest FC of El Paso, Texas and FC Denver have taken to reach this point show that they are both quality sides.

Southwest FC of the United Premier Soccer League’s (UPSL) Southwest Conference have relied on fast starts to reach this point of the competition. The Wolves pressed extremely well in their Second and Third Round games, leading to early goals against 2018 UPSL national finalists Sporting AZ (Second Round) and  against 2018 UPSL fall semifinalists San Juan FC of Utah (Third Round).

Manager Endy Gonzalez pointed out that he approaches each match differently, but he may rely on what has served them well to this point. Cesar Sosa Jr., the son of Cesar Sosa Sr., who helped the El Paso Patriots to a runner-up finish in the 1995 US Open Cup, is a constant threat on the front line and will have FC Denver’s attention. Gonzalez will certainly look to his captain and man of the match from the 3-0 victory over San Juan, David Lopez, to provide the spark and ensure the team reaches the level required to make SWFC the second Open Division Local club from El Paso to qualify for the Open Cup. (El Paso Indios USA qualified in 2007 as a member of the NPSL prior to the USSF recognizing the league as a national league status, thus were labeled as an “Open Division Local” club).

FC Denver celebrates after the club's 4-1 win over Gam United FC in their 2019 US Open Cup qualifier. Photo: FC Denver Twitter

FC Denver celebrates after the club’s 4-1 win over Gam United FC in their 2019 US Open Cup qualifier. Photo: FC Denver Twitter

FC Denver have fought a battle for Colorado to get to this point, having eliminated three other Centennial State teams en route to the Fourth Round. They’ve left Indios Denver FC, Harpos FC, and GAM United FC in their wake, with the 4-1 thrashing of GAM being their standout performance. Like Southwest FC, they also relied on early pressure but were much more focused on creating dangerous chances from possessing the ball as much as possible. Their crossing can be extremely dangerous and SWFC’s fullbacks will need to be able to stop the service from out wide. Cesar Castillo, Alex Bernhardt, and Fernando Magallenes make up FC Denver’s potent attacking line and constantly rotate positions to keep defenses on their toes.

A Cesar Castillo hat trick helped FC Denver beat fellow Denver side Azteca FC to reach the US Open Cup Second Round last year before they lost narrowly to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks of the United Soccer League.

Both teams have proven their quality and their right to be finalists in Open Division Qualifying. The tournament proper has not begun yet, but this certainly feels like a proper cup tie. Both clubs will be giving their all to grab a spot this Saturday.

How they got here:

FC Denver (Colorado Premier League)
Round 1: W, 1-0 at Indios Denver FC (UPSL)
Round 2: D, 1-1 (3-2 PKs) vs. Harpo’s FC (Colorado Premier League)
Round 3: W, 4-1 vs. Gam United FC (UPSL)

Southwest FC (UPSL)
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: W, 4-1 at Sporting AZ FC (UPSL)
Round 3: W, 3-0 vs. San Juan FC (UPSL)

2019 us open cup qualifying ips-vs-academica
LIVE VIDEO: NONE

Preview by Josh Duder

Players from International Portland Select celebrate one of their goals in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifying match against JASA RWC. Photo: Ben McFarland

Players from International Portland Select celebrate one of their goals in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifying match against JASA RWC. Photo: Ben McFarland

This Saturday, Academica SC of the NPSL will host Interational Portland Select (IPS) Marathon Taverna, an amateur side from Portland, Ore. in the final qualifier for the 2019 US Open Cup.

Academica SC, currently 2-2 in NPSL play, will host the match at their own Academica Soccer Field in Turlock, Calif. IPS will make their first away trip of the tournament, a distant 670 miles south, after hosting their first two qualifying matches last fall. In those two matches, the amateur side knocked off high quality clubs Nevada Coyotes and JASA RWC (Redwood City, Calif.).

Founded in 1972, Academica SC have a long history of competing for titles in Northern California’s soccer scene. 2018 was their first season in the NPSL, and they finished fifth while missing the playoffs. Still, several players and head coach Sergio Sousa earned a variety of league awards. Along the way, in the US Open Cup qualifing rounds, they eliminated Davis Legacy 4-1 at Academica Field, beat Contra Costa FC 3-2 in another home match, and traveled to Raimondi Park in Oakland, Calif. to knock the Oakland Stompers out of the tournament.

Ramiro Ceja of Academic SC scored the lone goal in the club's 1-0 win over Oakland Stompers in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Brittney Virgo

Ramiro Ceja of Academic SC scored the lone goal in the club’s 1-0 win over Oakland Stompers in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Brittney Virgo

IPS decided to join another league, in addition to the Oregon Premier League, which recently moved to a summer-and-fall season format. They joined the Greater Portland Soccer District in attempt to stay fresh ahead of their US Open Cup run. They are currently sitting on 9 points in Open Division I.

They get the week off to travel to California, a trip that required a fundraising campaign to cover the costs. Expect an active offensive-minded game, with IPS’s Prince Saydee and Nate Pogue not afraid to attack defenses, and Academica’s Cody Golbad and company looking to see that translate their 12 league goals into Cup success. The Rose City side are attempting to become the first Open Division Local team from the state of Oregon, and only the third Open Division club of any kind (Cascade Surge, Portland Timbers U-23s) to ever qualify in the tournament’s Modern Era.

There will be a live stream available for the match which will kick off at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

How they got here:

IPS Marathon Taverna
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: W, 5-4 vs. Nevada Coyotes (UPSL)
Round 3: W, 3-2 vs. JASA RWC (UPSL)

Academica SC
Round 1: W, 4-1 vs. Davis Legacy (LIGA NorCal)
Round 2: W, 3-2 vs. Contra Costa FC (LIGA NorCal)
Round 3: W, 1-0 at Oakland Stompers (UPSL)

SUNDAY, APRIL 7

2019 us open cup qualifying world-class-premier-vs-virginia-united
LIVE VIDEO: NONE

Preview by Michael Battista

World Class Premier and the Rochester Lancers 2 square off in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifier. Photo: Nasha Queen

World Class Premier and the Rochester Lancers 2 square off in a 2019 US Open Cup qualifier. Photo: Nasha Queen

After advancing past the Third Round of US Open Cup Qualifying in November of 2018, both World Class Premier Elite FC and Virginia United FC could be forgiven for thinking that around this time their squads would be preparing for the First Round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. However the announcement last December of a Fourth Qualifying Round now means both teams are vying for a single slot in the 106th edition of the tournament. The match on Sunday will determine which of the two clubs will make their US Open Cup debut this month while the other’s journey ends just short.

This marks the first time in tournament history that teams from the Asociacion Nacional Fútbol en USA have attempted to qualify for the Open Cup. The last remaining team from that league is Virginia United, and they have gone through multiple well-established clubs on their way to Sunday’s final round. The team started its run by dispatching fellow league-mate Centro America FC, 2-1, with goals in each half in a game that included seven separate yellow cards – including four for VU. Going up against Super Delegates FC of the Maryland Major Soccer League (MMSL), the Virginia club dominated throughout. A goal within the first five minutes gave Virginia the early lead as the young squad pulled SDFC into committing multiple fouls, including three yellow card offenses in the second half. A final goal advanced the home team, 2-0.

The most recent challenge for United was its biggest one to date as it took on Open Cup fan favorite Christos FC which were looking to advance to their third straight Open Cup tournament. The cleanest game for Virginia United saw Mauricio Martinez score both goals for his team, which brought his qualifying goalscoring total to three. His second goal in the 85th minute was the game-winner, sending United into the final round on a  2-1 scoreline.

Virginia United take a team photo prior to their 2019 US Open Cup qualifier against the Super Delegates FC. Photo: Virginia United

Virginia United take a team photo prior to their 2019 US Open Cup qualifier against the Super Delegates FC. Photo: Virginia United

The competition isn’t the only thing going well for United. The team has created a board and promoted one of its players Jonahan Romero, to the role of head coach, all as the team took part in both qualifying and a winter season. This occurred at the same time that the team was preparing for league play in both the Woodbridge Soccer League and in the ANFUSA. The team features a number of former D.C. United academy players, including brothers Denis and Christian Najar, siblings to former MLS player Andy Najar. Other notable players include former youth internationals such as Eber Martinez (United States) and Bernardo Majano (El Salvador).

While United has had close competition throughout the qualifying rounds, World Class Premier’s impressive offense has outscored opponents 13-3 over the three rounds. Daniel Ankrah and USL Championship veteran Levi Houapeu (formerly of Christos) have both scored four goals each, tying them with four others for second most goals scored during qualifying. Both have scored two goals in two separate games, with Houapeu bookending the team’s first 4-2 win against fellow MMSL club Izee Auto FC.

The MMSL team’s entire offense lit up in the next game against  Charlottesville Alliance FC Reserves with five separate players scoring. Houapeu again scored twice as the team notched a 6-0 win. The team’s Round 3 triumph saw Ankrah score the winner against the Rochester Lancers 2 in western New York State, 3-1.

How they got here:

World Class Premier Elite FC (Maryland Major Soccer League) 
Round 1: W, 4-2 at Izee Auto FC (Maryland Major Soccer League)
Round 2: W, 6-0 at Charlottesville Alliance FC Reserves (Soccer Organization of of Charlottesville Area)
Round 3: W, 3-1 at Rochester Lancers 2 (Rochester District Soccer League)

Virginia United (Woodbridge Soccer League)
Round 1: W, 2-1 at Centro America FC (Woodbridge Soccer League)
Round 2: W, 2-0 vs. Super Delegates FC (Maryland Major Soccer League)
Round 3: W, 2-1 vs. Christos FC (Maryland Major Soccer League)

2019 us open cup qualifying cal-fc-vs-santa-ana-winds
LIVE VIDEO: NONE

Preview by Omar Avalos

Cal FC poses for a team photo before they take on Cal United FC II in the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Cal FC

Cal FC poses for a team photo before they take on Cal United FC II in the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Cal FC

Santa Ana Winds FC will host Cal FC in the final qualifying round to the 2019 US Open Cup on April 6 at the Lake Forest Sports Park at 7 p.m. PST. Santa Ana will attempt to qualify to the Open Cup for the second consecutive year, while Cal FC, a club best known for their upset of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers in 2012, will attempt to qualify for the first time since 2015.

Winds FC aims to return and improve upon last year’s one-and-done showing, a 3-0 loss to Paul Caligiuri’s Orange County FC. The team arrives at the final qualifier at full strength, with the return of key players who contributed to their qualifying last year. Midfielder Junior Herrera has come back from an injury and defender Matt Rosendo returns from other endeavors to reinforce an already consistent squad featuring defenders Maximiliano Rico and Israel Espnioza, midfielders Xavier Corona and Wilton Quintero, captain Ezequiel Estrada and goalkeeper Alexis V. Rojo.

A win for Santa Ana Winds FC will serve as an affirmation of the club’s intention to produce talent and send players onto bigger and better opportunities. This club, like Cal FC, has sent players to pro sides, namely Juan Arellano who signed with Cartaginés in Costa Rica, Adan Coronado and Kyle O’Brien who went to Cal United, and most recently Jordan Gorman, who joined Milwaukee Torrent of the NPSL. Arellano has returned stateside and has been playing league games with the Winds, but missed the Open Cup roster deadline and could not be added for the tournament qualifying rounds.

Santa Ana Winds logoWinds FC arrived at the fourth round by a pair of one-sided shutouts against UPSL clubs LA Wolves FC and Lionside FC. To reach the final round, the Winds needed a pair of impressive extra time goals by Rico and Corona to earn a 3-2 win over Buena Park FC of the SoCal Premier League.

Cal FC has been demolishing its competition in the UPSL’s SoCal North Division, outgunning everyone 25-7 with a perfect record of 5-0-0. Cal FC had a more difficult path to “Win & You’re In” weekend compared to the Winds. The club ground out an epic overtime victory over Cal United FC to set up the final qualifier with Winds FC. Cal FC had, arguably, the more difficult qualifying route in comparison to Winds FC. They opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over fellow UPSL side San Nicolas FC, and then saw the controversial protest that followed go their way. After a 6-1 road win over Outbreak FC in Round 2, Cal FC edged California United II (UPSL) in a penalty kick shootout after a 1-1 draw. The original match nearly two months prior was cut just short of completeion on Nov. 18 when the stadium lights went out in the 89th minute due to a local curfew ordinance. At the time,  the match was tied at 2-2 and a full match replay was ordered.

A win for Cal FC this weekend would also serve as an affirmation of their overall approach as the club seeks to transition to the professional level. The club will need the best competition it can get in order to prepare for the inaugural NPSL Founders Cup, and in doing so, vie for relevance, especially in the soccer-crazed Southern California market.

How they got here:

Cal FC (UPSL)
Round 1: W, 3-1 vs. San Nicolas FC (UPSL)
Round 2: W, 6-1 at Outbreak FC (SoCal Premier League)
Round 3: D, 1-1 (7-6 PKs) vs. California United II (UPSL)

Santa Ana Winds (UPSL)
Round 1: W, 4-0 at Los Angeles Wolves FC (UPSL)
Round 2: W, 5-0 at Lionside FC (UPSL)
Round 3: W, 3-1 (AET) vs. Buena Park FC (SoCal Premier League)

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