Which NPSL teams will qualify for 2020 US Open Cup?

Posted by | August 9, 2019
Miami FC celebrate their 2019 NPSL championship. Photo: NPSL

Miami FC celebrate their 2019 NPSL championship. Photo: NPSL

The 2019 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) season was just as much about off-the-field activities as it was on-the-field play. A new proposed professional league with up to 11 members, a tournament to launch the project off, new teams kicking off, and more, were all some of the pieces that made the year interesting. However, as the summer season comes to a close, many things have changed as the future of the league and some of the best teams remains uncertain. Despite this, we now have a clearer picture as to what teams have the inside track to qualify for the 2020 edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

How this list is made is determined by using the format previously used in the 2019 US Open Cup Handbook and the newly released 2020 US Open Cup Open Division Handbook.

After years of either steady or increasing berth totals for teams between 2011 and 2018, the NPSL experienced its first decrease in tournament slots in 2019 going from 18 (22 after including last minute Play-in teams) to 14. With expansion coming across the board from Major League Soccer, to USL League One, and the newly-created National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), it would seem likely that the number of berths for both NPSL and USL League Two would go down.

There is hope however, as it was announced last month in the 2020 Open Cup Open Division Handbook that the First Round of the tournament would kick-off in late March or early April 2020. While there is no set format for the tournament yet, it is possible this early start could function as a round where more local qualifiers or Open Division teams join the tournament early – similar to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s First Four. Only one other Open Division team is a known participant in next year’s tournament: Connecticut side Newtown Pride FC who won the 2019 National Amateur Cup earlier this month.

NPSL’s CLASSIFICATION RULES

Heading into the 2019 US Open Cup, the NPSL has 87 teams that are eligible for the competition divided into four regions: South (25), West (24), Midwest (21), and Northeast (17). The Northeast Region, which would typically have 22 teams, loses the five clubs from the Mid-Atlantic Conference due to them not playing a 10-game regular season – a required minimum for Open Cup qualification. Since tournament bids are staggered in a way to reward regions with more teams, this puts teams from the Northeast at a significant disadvantage after the top eight.

Orange County FC celebrates after their 2019 US Open Cup Second Round match against Orange County SC. OCFC won 5-3 in PKs after a 2-2 draw to become just the 5th NPSL team to upset a pro team. Photo: Glenn Feingerts

Orange County FC celebrates after their 2019 US Open Cup Second Round match against Orange County SC. OCFC won 5-3 in PKs after a 2-2 draw to become just the 5th NPSL team to upset a pro team. Photo: Glenn Feingerts

Additionally, it is unclear how the NPSL will rank teams from the Keystone Conference since it’s champion, FC Motown, was directly impacted by being beaten by a Mid-Atlantic side, FC Baltimore Christos, to reach the final eight. In this case we’ve listed out two options as it affects the Northeast Region’s Keystone Conference: the left side represents if the list starts with the best playoff performance from the Keystone and then goes into points per game (PPG), while the right starts with the best team from the conferences in PPG order. These affect places 8, 18, and 24 on the list.

The first eight possible berths are awarded to teams that advanced deep into the 2018 NPSL playoffs. Slots one and two are reserved for the champion and runner-up, respectively. Slots three and four are given to the teams that reached the semifinals and teams four through eight are held by the remaining quarterfinalists.

NPSL ranks largely by points per game, but prioritizes at least one Open Cup bid for every division. It’s important to consider where a team plays (conference and division) when you read the teams listed and take extraneous factors into consideration such as teams folding, declaring themselves ineligible, changing leagues, or more.

There are many teams in the top spots with announced plans to move to professional leagues (NISA or NPSL’s possible semi-pro league) but as seen with Tormenta 2 last year, a team’s berth can be given to a newly-created amateur team that stays in the league while the first team moves on.

It’s near certain that teams listed in the top eight are all but guaranteed a spot in the 107th edition of the US Open Cup. After that, teams are ranked based on criteria that the NPSL has come up with in accordance with the Open Cup Committee. This information can be found inside the 2020 edition of the handbook (page 15).

With all that out of the way, here are the 2020 NPSL US Open Cup berth rankings:

#1 – Miami FC (NPSL Champion, South Region – Sunshine Conference)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 4*
*2016-19 … including Miami FC NASL history and Miami FC 2 NPSL history
Best Open Cup Finish: 2017 Quarterfinals (1-0 loss vs FC Cincinnati of USL)

Players from Florida Soccer Soldiers (yellow) and Miami FC battle for the ball in the First Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Orovio Photography

Players from Florida Soccer Soldiers (yellow) and Miami FC battle for the ball in the First Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Orovio Photography

For the first time in history, the NPSL has a two-time league champion. Miami FC, which won the title last year under the name Miami FC 2, became the first team in the league’s 20+ year history to win back-to-back titles after the group beat fellow former North American Soccer League (NASL) side New York Cosmos B, 4-1, on Aug. 3.

Miami’s eighth trophy in four years has surely qualified them for a spot in the US Open Cup in 2020. The team has a lengthy resume in the tournament, with the high of reaching the Quarterfinals in 2017 after beating two MLS sides in Orlando City SC and Atlanta United FC – the latter one year away from winning MLS Cup, while also recently losing in 2019’s First Round to the Florida Soccer Soldiers, one of this year’s Cinderella stories, 2-1, after giving up two second half goals. Interestingly, the club has never lost in the same round twice in its four previous Open Cup runs.

This year, the team only lost one game in the regular season en route to a 9-1-0 record. They followed that up with another conference title in the playoffs by downing Jacksonville Armada U-23s and Miami United FC – the latter needing a late game comeback. On the regional side, a chippy battle against Chattanooga FC saw the team scored twice in the second half to advance to the regional final where Tulsa Athletic was handily defeated, 4-1. The final challenge before the final was the league’s final non-professional team left standing, Cleveland SC, who scored early on Miami but could not stay ahead as they fell, 4-1.

#2 – New York Cosmos B (NPSL Finalist, Northeast Region – North Atlantic Conference)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 6 (2014-2019 … including New York Cosmos NASL history)
Best Open Cup Finish: 2018 Fifth Round (2014, 2015, 2016)

Aaron Dennis celebrates his goal for the New York Cosmos against Black Rock FC in the First Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Matthew Levine | New York Cosmos

Aaron Dennis celebrates his goal for the New York Cosmos against Black Rock FC in the First Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Matthew Levine | New York Cosmos

The New York Cosmos B may have failed to add another NPSL Championship to their resume but the team’s performance during the season wow’d fans at both Mitchel Athletic Complex and Columbia University in New York City.

This is the second year that the Cosmos’ NPSL team has acted as the club’s “senior” team, after the NASL went on hiatus following the conclusion of the 2017 season. The team’s second season was much better than the first, winning the North Atlantic Conference with an undefeated record of 13-0-1. The Cosmos won the subsequent conference playoffs over the only team they dropped points to, the Brooklyn Italians, 1-0, before beating FC Baltimore in the Northeast Region Final, 3-1. The three pieces of silverware were thanks to an overpowering offense. The reason the team only allowed four goals in the regular season is more on the fact that they scored 47 through 14 more than any defensive strategy.

Forward Bljedi Bardic, who scored the late-game winner in the team’s 2019 US Open Cup First Round match against Black Rock FC and scored one of the goals of the tournament in a losing effort to Hartford Athletic in the Second Round, earned the triple after taking home conference, regional, and national XI honors for his efforts.

The Cosmos organization hasn’t reached the Fifth Round of the tournament since 2016 while it had a club playing in the NASL. Now that the club starts play as an Open Division competitor, it will have more challenges to face if it wants a chance to defeat an MLS side for a fourth time.

#3 – ASC San Diego (NPSL Semifinalist, West Region – Southwest Conference)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 1 (2017 … as Albion SC Pros)
Best Open Cup Finish: 2017 First Round (3-2 loss vs Chula Vista FC of the USASA)

Despite only barely making the playoffs (ranked 25th in the final NPSL Power Rankings), and only averaging a 2.06 goal-per-game average, ASC San Diego’s deep playoff run has set it up to return to the US Open Cup for a second time. In a city where two professional teams have been recently announced, Ziggy Korytoski’s team won three road games in a row to reach the National Semifinals behind a goalkeeper and stout defense that played well when it mattered.

In a stacked Southwest Conference, San Diego finished one point above 2019 US Open Cup Cinderella story Orange County FC to earn the third playoff spot for the conference into the regional playoffs. The team traveled to three separate states as it took on fellow California team FC Golden State, Washington state’s Crossfire Redmond, and the self-named FC Arizona while beating all of them on either penalty kicks or by a single goal. Goalkeeper Jean Antoine was a key factor, including offensively when he stepped up for a penalty kick in the team’s win over FCGS, but not even he could stop New York Cosmos B. The team fell in New York, it’s fourth state in as many weeks, 2-0, in the semifinals.

#4 – Cleveland SC (NPSL Semifinalist, Midwest Region – East Conference)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None

Fun times in Cleveland today! In only its second season, Cleveland SC outdid its inaugural performance by winning the Eastern Conference, the Midwest Region, and reaching the NPSL National Semifinals. In the ten games that the team played during the regular season, only two were losses while the rest resulted in three points. A team that had success in nearly every category, Cleveland saw a player take home conference XI honors for every position including head coach Ryan Osborne while goalkeeper Marijo Musa took home both conference and Midwest Region XI honors.

The top seed in the Midwest Region faced the Rochester Lancers, who were coming off short rest after resuming a halted game the day before to advance, and won, 6-4, in extra time. The next challenge was Detroit City FC in the regional final, something DCFC had already won once back in 2017. At halftime and down by two goals, coach Osborne stuck with his already tested players which allowed Tom Beck and Antonio Manfut to equalize before 15 minutes had past. In penalties, with both teams down men due to red cards, three skied shots from Detroit saw Cleveland reach the National Semifinals for the first time in club history and for the first time in the city since the former AFC Cleveland had won the NPSL championship in 2016.

Despite losing to Miami FC, 4-1, on the road, the team is in prime position for The Forest City to be represented in the US Open Cup in 2020.

#5 – Tulsa Athletic (NPSL Quarterfinalist, South Region – Heartland Conference)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 3 (2014, 2015, 2017)
Best Open Cup Finish: 2014 Second Round (2-0 loss vs Oklahoma City Energy FC of the USL Pro)

3,834 fans showed up to watch the Tulsa Athletics and the Oklahoma City Energy play their first US Open Cup game. Photo: Tulsa Athletics

Tulsa Athletic have always been a force in the Heartland Conference but for a second time in club history the team fell at the doorstep of the National Semifinals. The top eight finish should be enough for the club to qualify for it’s fourth trip to the US Open Cup and first in three years.

The A’s cruised to the conference regular season title with an unbeaten record of 7-0-3, totaling 24 points and a full 11 ahead of second place Little Rock Rangers. Head coach Joey Ryan and his group only allowed eight goals heading into the conference playoffs where they only allowed two more in two games while scoring a total of eight. A lopsided, 6-2 win over Ozark FC set up a conference title match between Demize NPSL which the team won, 2-0.

Lonestar Conference champion Fort Worth Vaqueros put up a valiant effort but work from regional XI defender Gustavo Vargas helped his team to a 3-1 win. A loss in the South Region Final, 4-1, to Miami FC ended the team’s season.

#6 – FC Arizona (NPSL Quarterfinalist, West Region – Southwest Conference)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 1 (2017)
Best Open Cup Finish: 2017 First Round (1-0 loss vs Sporting Arizona FC of the United Premier Soccer League)

FC Arizona has steadily inched itself into the US Soccer landscape and with its best result in NPSL to date under its belt, a second US Open Cup berth looks to be on the table. The squad reached the Elite Eight of the league playoffs while playing against some of the toughest competition the NPSL has to offer.

The team finished second in the Southwest Conference behind the offensive juggernaut that was FC Golden State (67 goals in 18 games). Despite stiff competition across the board, Arizona finished with a 12-1-5 record. Forward Cesar Mexia earned conference, regional, and national XI honors. This was in addition to his other honor: 2019 NPSL Golden Boot winner. The Obregón, Sonora, Mexico native’s 18 goals during the regular season helped propel his team into the postseason, where he once again showed his skill by scoring the go-ahead goal in his team’s 4-0 win against San Ramon FC in the West Region Quarterfinals.

A extra-time goal against last year’s US Open Cup Open Division local qualifier Academica SC helped the team reach the regional final for the first time in club history. However, ASC San Diego, who upset FC Golden State in the regional quarterfinals, continued their unexpected run after an FCA own-goal gave them a lead and advancement, 2-1. Still the club will be looking for a chance to redeem it’s 2017 First Round loss to local qualifier Sporting Arizona FC should they return in the 2020 US Open Cup.

#7 – Detroit City FC (NPSL Quarterfinalist, Midwest Region – Great Lakes Conference)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 4 (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)
Best Open Cup Finish: 2016 Second Round (1-1 (3:1 PKs) loss vs Louisville City FC of the USL Championship)

Detroit City FC fans celebrate a PK shootout win over the Michigan Bucks in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Jon DeBoer | DCFC

Detroit City FC fans celebrate a PK shootout win over the Michigan Bucks in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Jon DeBoer | DCFC

One of the fastest growing brands in the NPSL, Detroit City FC finished the 2019 season with a respectable finish in the Midwest Regional Final. A penalty kick loss, 2-2 (3-2), including three attempts that were launched over the crossbar might be the last soccer the club plays until the Members Cup tournament kicks off but the play that got them there is definitely enough for a US Open Cup berth.

The team finished up regular season play in the Great Lakes Conference with a near perfect record of 10-1-3 and 39 goals scored – 14 more than the next best team, second place AFC Ann Arbor. Two 5-0 wins against FC Indiana and a season sweep against Toledo Villa FC with a combined scoreline of 11-0 are only some of the examples of how dangerous Trevor James’ team can be. Forward Max Todd was a huge part of that front line and the Great Lakes Conference XI member showed that by scoring the game-clinching goal against Minneapolis City FC in the Region Semifinals.

For a team with professional ambitions that has never beaten a professional side in the US Open Cup, 2020 may be a turning point for the Motor City club.

#8 – FC Motown/Atlantic City FC (Northeast Region – Keystone Conference, 1.9/2.2 points per game)

FC Motown:
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 4 (2016-17 as Clarkstown Eagles*, 2018, 2019)
Best Open Cup Finish: 2018 Round 2 (3-1 loss vs Penn FC of USL)
*Additional appearance in 2017 as local qualifier playing under FC Motown name

Atlantic City FC:
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None

The first of three Keystone Conference conundrums sees 2018’s NPSL National Finalist and 2019’s Keystone Conference regular season champion face-off. With Northeast Region bids coming the least often of the four conference, and Keystone only getting half of those, it’s within the realm of possibility that the team that makes it here is the sole representation for the group.

FC Motown will be looking to reach the Open Cup for the third straight year as an organization in the league and fourth overall under the name. Following a loss in 2019’s First Round to the New York Red Bulls U-23s (USL League Two) in one of the tournament’s most exciting matches, the team kept playing along in the regular season but couldn’t break through to the top of the table. With only a 1.9 points per game average and a record of 6-3-1, the stats alone wouldn’t be enough for the team to qualify.

Dilly Duka of FC Motown scores what would be the game-winning goal against the New York Red Bulls U-23s in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Bob Larson | TheCup.us

Dilly Duka of FC Motown scores what would be the game-winning goal against the New York Red Bulls U-23s in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Bob Larson | TheCup.us

On the last day of the regular season with five teams vying for four conference playoff spots, Motown fell to Atlantic City FC but did enough to earn the third seed. An upset win over West Chester United SC, 3-2, in which the home team scored twice in the second half to nearly comeback set-up a final at Madison University against fourth seed Philadelphia Lone Star FC. Both squads were upset in the First Round of the US Open Cup only a few months prior and a trophy might have been the first step toward another chance in 2020. Motown’s Joseph Fala scored 20 minutes in and Chris Katona sealed the game with a late penalty kick to win the conference title, 2-0.

The team’s loss to the US Open Cup ineligible FC Baltimore in the Northeast Conference semifinal puts this eighth spot in limbo as the committee decides how to rank the teams.

On the other side, Atlantic City FC completed its second season by taking home silverware as the Keystone Conference regular season champions. The team edged West Chester for the top seed via the head-to-head tiebreaker after the two teams met in the season opener resulting in a 4-1 win for ACFC. After that, the team climbed the table past WCU, Motown, FC Monmouth and others to finish with a 7-2-1 record. For their efforts, goalkeeper Matt Perella, midfielder Walter Calderon, and forward Alexander Satrustegui earned conference honors while Calderon took home Northeast Region XI honors as well.

The team’s first-ever playoffs ended after a rain-soaked match against Philly Lone Star ended in a 2-1 defeated, but with a 2.2 points per game average, the best in the conference, the team has a chance to make its first-ever US Open Cup and become the first team ever from Monopoly City to qualify for the tournament in the Modern Era.

#9 – Midland-Odessa Sockers FC (South Region – Lone Star Conference, 2.42 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 2 (2015*, 2018, 2019)
* As member of USL League Two (formerly PDL)
Best Open Cup Finish: 2015 Second Round (3-1 loss vs Oklahoma City Energy FC of USL)

Players from FC Denver and Midland-Odessa Sockers FC (blue) battle for the ball in their First Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Midland-Odesssa Sockers FC

Players from FC Denver and Midland-Odessa Sockers FC (blue) battle for the ball in their First Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Midland-Odesssa Sockers FC

The Sockers didn’t need Chattanooga FC to drop out of the tournament to jump in the rankings this year, as the Lone Star Conference regular season champions and playoff finalists have quite the resume heading into ranking time. The group is seeking its third straight US Open Cup berth after it’s most recent performance saw the team lose to local qualifier FC Denver in the First Round.

In the team’s 12 regular season games, it only allowed seven goals while scoring 27 and earning a 9-1-2 record. This included a home and away series against Dallas City FC which the club won by a combined score of 12-0. For their efforts, goalkeeper Lukas Betz, defender Andrew White, midfielder Erwin Regules, and forward Julio Vargas Luna were all awarded conference XI roles following the season.

The Sockers were not able to make much of a splash in the playoffs however, beating Dallas City once again, 9-1, in the semifinals before losing to Fort Worth Vaqueros FC in the final, 2-1.

#10 – FC Davis (West Region – Golden Gate Conference, 2.36 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None
The second year FC Davis impressed in a stacked Golden Gate Conference by finishing on top with a 8-1-2 record for its first ever trophy.

Playing against well-knows such as Academica SC & El Farolito, the team needed to content with Open Cup caliber offenses on multiple occasions. Goalkeeper Jonathon Laughlin and defender Brian Ford both did their parts in helping to lock down the back-line and keep the team’s goals allowed to only 18, the least by any playoff team in the conference, and earned themselves conference XI honors.

Despite the team’s postseason only lasting one game thanks to a 3-1 loss at home to Academica, a high points per game average and playing in a conference with the second most tournament berths spells a decent shot for the team to make the US Open Cup.

#11 – Minneapolis City SC (Midwest Region – North Conference, 2.33 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None

Whitney Browne of Minneapolis City celebrates one of his two goals against Oakland County FC in the second round of the 2017 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Daniel Mick | http://www.danielmickcreative.com/USOC-Minneapolis-City-v/

Minneapolis City SC are well-known for their escapades with the US Open Cup. Not in the tournament, as they’ve yet to qualify for one, but surrounding it.

City are best known for being disqualified from the 2017 Open Division Local qualifying tournament when they violated tournament rules by switching leagues (from the Premier League of America to the NPSL) in the middle of the qualifying process. This was followed up last year when Minneapolis was ranked 16th in NPSL Open Cup rankings but the federation reduced the number of entries to 14, and they were left on the outside looking in.

This year, the Crows have put themselves in the best position to qualify yet. The team was able to win the Midwest Region’s North Conference by a single point over Med City FC thanks to leading scorers Will Kidd, Nick Hutton, and Justin Oliver who combined for 13 goals in the regular season. The team won four games with four or more goals scored, leading the group to a 9-2-1 record heading into the playoffs.

After falling to Med City in the final game of the regular season, Minneapolis defeated the team in the Midwest Region Quarterfinals, 2-1, before falling to Detroit City FC, 2-0, on the road in the semifinals.

#12 – Chattanooga FC (South Region – Southeast Conference, 2.2 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 6 (2011, 2013-17)
Best Open Cup finish: 2015 Third Round (2-1 extra time loss vs Atlanta Silverbacks of NASL)

Chattanooga FC finished another outstanding year in the NPSL and once again finds itself in the 12th spot among ranked league teams. Despite qualifying last year, the team declined it’s invitation citing difficulties in balancing preparation with the then-upcoming Founders Cup tournament (now “Members Cup”), and what it called “[the] biggest schedule in our history.”

While it’s unknown how 2020 will play out, 2019 saw success on the field as CFC won the Southeast Conference for an eighth time. Behind a 7-2-1 record and a conference-best +18 goal differential, it was no surprise when they picked up a pair of Southeast playoff wins over Inter Nashville FC & Asheville City SC by a combined score of 7-1. For his part, midfielder Juan Hernandez earned conference, regional, and national XI honors from the league as voted on by fans, media, and the NPSL staff.

In a chippy, aggressive Regional Semifinal match, Miami FC overcame the Chattanooga back-line to advance, 2-0.

Rasmus Hansen of the Brooklyn Italians chases a loose ball against the New York Cosmos B in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Bob Larson | TheCup.us

Rasmus Hansen of the Brooklyn Italians chases a loose ball against the New York Cosmos B in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Bob Larson | TheCup.us

#13 – Brooklyn Italians (Northeast Region – North Atlantic Conference, 2.36 points per game)
Number of (Modern Era) US Open Cup appearances: 7 (2010-15, 2018)
Best Finish: 1979*, 1991 US Open Cup Champions
* Under the name Brooklyn Dodgers

After missing the tournament last year by three berth slots, the two-time tournament champion Brooklyn Italians have once again made it into the top 20 of NPSL teams while looking for an 8th Open Cup appearance in the Modern Era. A record of 10-1-3, including averaging just over two goals per game, helped the group reach the North Atlantic Conference Final and move up four spots in the rankings from last season.

The Italians’ biggest challenge this season came from the New York Cosmos B, who featured a roster full of pros. Brooklyn would lose 4-1 at home before playing to a scoreless draw in the penultimate game of the regular season. Still an offensive force, aided by North Atlantic Conference XI members Vitorio Argeri and Patrick Guier, the team scored 43 while only allowing 15 in 14 games. The season came to an end for the second straight year at the hands of Cosmos B, who defeated Brooklyn. 1-0. in the conference final.

#14 – Crossfire Redmond (West Region – Northwest Conference, 2.2 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None

Crossfire Redmond ended its inaugural NPSL season with a Northwest Conference, a West Region semifinal appearance, and top half bid to gain entry into the 2020 US Open Cup.

The team, which is run under the Crossfire Premier organization which has an excellent track record in terms of youth development, played to a 7-2-1 record in conference play while totaling 30 goals in those 10 games (averaging three goals a game). Club director and former US international Bernie James led his squad into the playoffs where the team defeated conference foe OSA FC, 7-1, in their first game before falling to eventual region champions ASC San Diego.

#15 – Med City FC (Midwest Region – North Conference, 2.25 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None

After back-to-back fourth place finishes in the NPSL’s North Conference, Med City FC finds itself after it’s first-ever postseason at what was the cutoff point for teams last year hoping to make the US Open Cup from the league. The team based out of Rochester, Minn. reached the Midwest Region quarterfinals but fell to their fellow statesmen Minneapolis City SC, 2-1, after all three goals came within a span of 10 minutes.

City’s season ended in the North with a 8-1-3 record, only one point behind Minneapolis for the conference’s top spot. The two teams clashed during the regular season with a draw, followed by a win by Med in the regular season finale, 1-0. However, the Crows were able to beat Neil Cassidy and his team by getting around the well-oiled back-line led by defender Nicholas Itopoulos that had only allowed eleven goals up until the playoffs.

#16 – Naples United FC (South Region – Sunshine Conference, 2.4 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None

Playing in the same conference as the defending league champions (Miami FC), Naples United FC finished its respectable season with an appearance in the Sunshine Conference Playoffs and a handful of team honors.

The group finished second overall in the conference with a record of 8-2-0, with their only losses coming against Miami FC in meetings that came on just as many weeks in the home and away series. Looking past this, the team from Naples, Fla. pushed hard in the top heavy conference, where the best teams would obviously make one of the four playoff spots. Starting the year off with a three-game winning streak that saw the team outscored opponents 9-2, this year’s Sunshine Conference XI head coach Carlos Adducci used the depth of his roster to remain perfect against all other Sunshine foes.

The result after the regular season was quick though after a 2-1 loss in the conference playoffs to Miami United FC sent the team home early. However, on points per game, Naples is still ahead of United which means it holds the better chance for a US Open Cup spot.

#17 – FC Golden State (West Region – Southwest Conference, 2.56 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None

Unlike the similarly named sister club FC Golden State Force in USL League Two, FC Golden State was not able to go far in its league playoffs as the Western favorites were one-and-done.

The team, which led the Southwest Conference and the entire NPSL in goals scored with 67 (through 18 games), put up a record of 15-2-1. When the playoff positioning put the squad against ASC San Diego, an in-conference opponent that had split the season series, the two sides knew it would be a challenge. Both scored twice forcing the game into extra time and eventually penalty kicks where ASC advanced.

#18 – Atlantic City FC/West Chester United SC (Northeast Region – Keystone Conference, 2.2 points per game each)

Atlantic City FC:
Number of US Open Cup appearances: None

West Chester United SC:
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 1 (2019*)
*As an Open Division Local qualifier
Best Open Cup Finish: 2018 Round 2 (4-1 loss vs Birmingham Legion FC of USL Championship)

The second Keystone Conference spot is contested between Atlantic City FC, should the league rank based on overall league finishes including playoffs, and West Chester United SC, should it be ranked based on regular season performance and points per game. ACFC has already been discussed previously at the 8th spot.

West Chester United finished the 2019 NPSL regular season by just missing the first overall playoff seed in the conference due to the season opening loss to Atlantic City. Despite this, the 7-2-1 record Conference XI coach Blaise Santangelo’s group had put together was a solid enough resume to inspire confidence. Forward Troy Amspacher had been a threat all season long in conference and the team let up the least amount of goals of any of its’ conference playoff competition (12). Despite this, the 2018 NPSL National Finalist FC Motown overtook the team at home with three goals heading into the second half. Two goals from Christopher Donovan and Evan Vare gave the team the chance to tie but to no avail.

WCU will be looking to make the cup for a second straight year after it’s fully amateur, local league side reached the final tournament last season and defeated FC Baltimore Christos in the First Round.

#19 – Duluth FC (Midwest Region – North Conference, 2.17 points per game)
Number of US Open Cup appearances: 2 (2018, 2019)
Best Open Cup Finish: 2018 Round 2 (2-0 loss vs Saint Louis FC of USL)

Duluth FC celebrates their PK victory over Dakota Fusion FC in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Seth Steffenhagen | Steffenhagen Photography

Duluth FC celebrates their PK victory over Dakota Fusion FC in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Seth Steffenhagen | Steffenhagen Photography

Duluth FC’s best NPSL season to date was followed up with its best Open Cup performance. However, they had a lackluster finish to the league season.

After reaching the national semifinals in 2018, the team missed the Midwest Region Playoffs by finishing third in the North Conference by one point. Med City FC’s 3-1 win over the team on June 22 was one of the key reasons how the two-time Open Cup participants failed to make the playoffs.

Despite this, The BlueGreens high scoring offense, which included a 11-0 win over LC Aris FC in the final regular season game, has put the team in the top 20 of NPSL berths.

20th Denton Diablos FC (South Region – Lone Star Conference, 2.25 points per game)

21st Orange County FC (West Region – Southwest Conference, 2 points per game)

22nd Miami United FC (South Region – Sunshine Conference, 2.1 points per game)

23rd AFC Ann Arbor (Midwest Region – Great Lakes Conference, 2.14 points per game)

24th West Chester United SC/FC Motown (Northeast Region – Keystone Conference, 2.2/1.9 points per game)

25th OSA Seattle FC (West Region – Northwest Conference, 1.8 points per game)

26th Fort Worth Vaqueros (South Region – Lone Star Conference, 2 points per game)

27th Grand Rapids FC (Midwest Region – Great Lakes Conference, 2.07 points per game)

28th Kingston Stockade FC (Northeast Region – North Atlantic Conference, 1.79 points per game)

29th San Ramon FC (West Region – Golden Gates Conference, 1.73 points per game)

30th Greenville FC (South Region – Southeast Conference, 1.9 points per game)

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