2019 US Open Cup: USSF announces First Round draw, so what are the most intriguing matchups?

Posted by | April 10, 2019
The Houston Dynamo lift the trophy after winning the 2018 US Open Cup title. Photo: Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo lift the trophy after winning the 2018 US Open Cup title. Photo: Houston Dynamo

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) announced the results of the draw for the First Round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The opening round of the 106th edition of the tournament will feature 19 games that will take place May 7-8.

The games will feature 32 teams from the Open Division (mostly amateur teams outside of the top three professional divisions), and the six U.S.-based clubs from USL League One (Division 3).

The Round 1 winners will advance to Round 2 where 25 U.S.-based teams from the USL Championship (Division 2) will join the competition the following week. The potential Second Round opponents are scheduled to be announced on April 17.

The hosts for the First Round, and all future rounds, are determined by random selection. If both teams apply to host and both teams meet the federation’s minimum venue standards, then the home team is decided by random draw.

This year’s US Open Cup features 84 entries in all, which is down from 97 the year before, and a Modern Era (1995-present) record 99 in 2017. It is the lowest number of entries since 80 teams entered in 2014.

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The 2019 competition will see quite a few changes, including the return of a professional third division. For the last two years, there was no third division sanctioned league and now USL League One will begin play. Other new faces include Virginia United, an amateur team from the Woodbridge (Va.) Soccer League will be the first-ever entry from the recently-formed Asociacon Nacional Futbol en USA (ANFEEU).

Other highlights include 37 different states represented, which is a Modern Era record. Also, the first-ever entries from the states of Alabama (Birmingham Legion FC, an expansion team from the USL Championship) and Arkansas (Little Rock Rangers from the NPSL) will take part. The states of Georgia (3), Texas (9) and Tennessee (3) will also have a Modern Era record number of entries this year.

One of the biggest changes for this year’s tournament is the recently-announced media rights deal with ESPN+. According to the announcement, the partnership with the sports media giant will see every game of this year’s tournament (and for the next three tournaments) streamed live on the media giant’s direct-to-consumer sports streaming service that currently has more than two million subscribers.

The winner of the tournament will receive $300,000, an amount that was increased prior to the 2018 tournament, which was won by the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer. The runner-up will receive $100,000. The team that advances the furthest from each division (Division 2 pro, Division 3 pro, Open Division) will get $25,000, respectively.

In addition to the $300,000, the winner of the tournament will receive a berth in the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.

Here are a few notable matchups from the opening round, followed by the full Round 1 schedule below:

NOTABLE ROUND 1 MATCHES

Richmond Kickers (USL-1) vs. Virginia United (ANFEEU/Woodbridge Soccer League)

The 1995 US Open Cup champion Richmond Kickers are one of the longest-running pro clubs and are the only USL League One team with Open Cup experience (they have the 8th-most wins of any team of the Modern Era). They will meet an amateur team in Virginia United that is making their US Open Cup debut, but are not exactly a new club. Founded in 2008, United are part of the Woodbridge (Va.) Soccer League and got into the Open Cup out of the Open Division Local qualifying tournament by eliminating four teams, including Open Cup power Christos FC.

New York Red Bulls U-23s (USL-2) vs. FC Motown (NPSL)

The 2018 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) runners-up, FC Motown, will be on the road to start the Open Cup but they won’t have to leave the state of New Jersey as they take on the New York Red Bulls U-23s of USL League Two (USL-2) at the first team’s training facility in East Hanover, NJ. This will be a rematch of a first round match from 2018, where Motown advanced, 2-1, behind two Dilly Duka goals in the first half. The young reserve side will be entering its’ fifth tournament in 2019 and will be looking to reach the second round for the first time since 2014 – the same year the team won the NPSL championship (before moving to USL League Two). Motown will be taking part in its’ third straight US Open Cup, second under the FC Motown name. They recently absorbed the Clarkstown Eagles FC.

Greenville Triumph SC (USL-1) vs. South Georgia Tormenta FC (USL-1)

The second ever match between USL-1 foes Greenville Triumph and South Georgia Tormenta FC will be in the First Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. While the South Carolina side will have home field advantage, Tormenta has the slight edge in terms of Cup experience, making it to the Second Round last year in its debut appearance. In the team’s previous meeting on Friday, March 29, South Georgia beat Greenville, 1-0, in the first-ever USL League One match. Greenville is led by Hall of Famer and D.C. United legend John Harkes who won the US Open Cup in 1996 and was a member of the Sheffield Wednesday team that finished runner-up to Arsenal in the 1993 FA Cup Final.

Bavarian SC (USASA/UPSL) vs. Forward Madison FC (USL-1)

Bavarian SC, the oldest club in the 2019 US Open Cup field (founded in 1929) is back in the US Open Cup for the first time since 2012. The Bavarians have been competing in the US Open Cup since the 1930s and reached the Semifinals in 1993 and 1994. The club finished as runner-up in 1994. The Milwaukee side got into the tournament by winning the 2018 USASA Amateur Cup title. Their reward is a tough First Round test as they will host USL League One expansion team Forward Madison (Wis.) FC. Madison has some Open Cup experience within its organization in managing director Peter Wilt, who spearheaded the creation of the club. Wilt has three US Open Cup championship rings during his time as the general manager of the Chicago Fire (1998, 2000, 2003). There has only been one all-Wisconsin US Open Cup battle in the tournament’s Modern Era and that took place in the Third Round in 2003 when Bavarian SC fell to the Milwaukee Wave United (A-League, Div. 2 pro). Wave United ended up falling to Peter Wilt’s Chicago Fire in the following round.

Academica SC (US Club Soccer / LIGA NorCal) vs. El Farolito (NPSL)

This Northern California matchup is the pair that has the most years of experience between the two clubs. Academica SC, a first-year entry from Turlock, Calif., was founded in 1972, while San Francisco’s El Farolito, who won the 1993 US Open Cup title under the name CD Mexico, began play in 1985. Academica defeated three straight Northern California teams in the qualifying tournament to get in, but needed a dramatic penalty kick shootout win over the International Portland Select to punch their ticket. El Farolito is back in the tournament for the first time since making their Modern Era debut in 2017. Last year, they qualified but were later disqualified for changing leagues in the middle of the qualifying tournament.

2019 US Open Cup First Round Schedule

Date Game (home team listed first) Time Venue
May 7 FC Baltimore (NPSL) vs. West Chester Predators (Pa.) 7 p.m. ET Homewood Field (Johns Hopkins Univ.); Baltimore, Md.
May 7 Richmond Kickers (USLL1) vs. Virginia United (Va.) 7 p.m. ET City Stadium; Richmond, Va.
May 7 New York Cosmos B (NPSL) vs. Black Rock FC (USLL2) 7:30 p.m. ET Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium (Columbia Univ.); New York, N.Y.
May 7 New York Red Bulls U23 (USLL2) vs. FC Motown (NPSL) 7:30 p.m. ET New York Red Bulls Training Facility; East Hanover, N.J.
May 8 Erie Commodores FC (NPSL) vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USLL2) 7 p.m. ET McConnell Family Stadium (Gannon University); Erie, Pa.
May 8 Lansing Ignite FC (USLL1) vs. AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL) 7 p.m. ET Cooley Law School Stadium; Lansing, Mich.
May 8 Reading United AC (USLL2) vs. Philadelphia Lone Star FC (NPSL) 7 p.m. ET Alvernia University Stadium; Reading, Pa.

Southeast Region

Date Game (home team listed first) Time Venue
May 7 Lakeland Tropics (USLL2) vs. The Villages SC (USLL2) 7 p.m. ET Lake Myrtle Sports Complex; Auburndale, Fla.
May 7 South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (USLL2) vs. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (USLL1) 8 p.m. ET Erk Russell Park (Georgia Southern Univ.); Statesboro, Ga.
May 8 Greenville Triumph SC (USLL1) vs. South Georgia Tormenta FC (USLL1) 7 p.m. ET Legacy Early College Field; Greenville, S.C.
May 8 Miami FC (NPSL) vs. Florida Soccer Soldiers (Fla.) 7 p.m. ET Buccaneer Field (Barry Univ.); Miami Shores, Fla.

Central Region

Date Game (home team listed first) Time Venue
May 7 Bavarian SC (Wis.) vs. Forward Madison FC (USLL1) 7:30 p.m. CT Uihlein Soccer Park; Milwaukee, Wis.
May 8 Little Rock Rangers (NPSL) vs. NTX Rayados (Texas) 7 p.m. CT Episcopal Collegiate School; Little Rock, Ark.
May 8 Des Moines Menace (USLL2) vs. Duluth FC (NPSL) 7:30 p.m. CT Cownie Soccer Park; Des Moines, Iowa
May 8 Midland-Odessa Sockers FC (NPSL) vs. FC Denver (Colo.) 7:30 p.m. CT Grande Communications Stadium; Midland, Texas
May 8 Laredo Heat SC (NPSL) vs. Brazos Valley Cavalry FC (USLL2) 8:15 p.m. CT Texas A&M International Univ.; Laredo, Texas

West Region

Date Game (home team listed first) Time Venue
May 7 Academica SC (Calif.) vs. El Farolito (NPSL) 7:30 p.m. PT Academica Field; Turlock, Calif.
May 7 Cal FC (Calif.) vs. FC Mulhouse Portland (NPSL) 7:30 p.m. PT Calabasas High School; Calabasas, Calif.
May 7 Orange County FC (NPSL) vs. FC Golden State Force (USLL2) 7:30 p.m. PT Orange County Great Park – Championship Soccer Stadium; Irvine, Calif.

Second Round – May 14 & 15*

Third Round – May 29*

Fourth Round – June 12*

Round of 16 – June 19*
(also June 18-23 if home team chooses and visiting team has at least three non-game days on each side of chosen date, with any overlap of U.S. MNT Gold Cup games on June 18 and June 22 disallowed)

Quarterfinals – July 10*

Semifinals – August 7*

Final – August 27 or 28

* Any game from the Fourth Round through to the Semifinal Round where one of the participants has a league game the following Friday will be moved up a day (exception to this occurs when the team’s opponent is scheduled for a league game the preceding Sunday; in this case, the provisions in the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Handbook to determine the match date will prevail). In addition, any game chosen by U.S. Soccer to be broadcast nationally in any round is subject to being moved up a day. The Commissioner has the authority to set outside of the confirmed schedule the date for any match if such a change is in the best interests of the tournament.

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