#USOC2019 Second Round Preview: The Dream Continues

The 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup marches on this Tuesday and Wednesday (May 14 & 15) with a 22-game Second Round that sees the entrance of USL's Championship teams (second division).
By: Jonah Fontela

The long road to the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup continues on Tuesday and Wednesday (May 14 & 15) with the Second Round of the 106-year-old tournament – U.S. Soccer’s national championship. In total, 44 teams will play 22 games in a straight-ahead, single elimination format during the Second Round. At this stage, the second division pros from the newly re-branded USL Championship join the party, hoping to knock off the raft of remaining amateurs who survived last week’s First Round unscathed.

As ever, it’s the simplest of equations: win and move on or lose and go home.

Spotlight on the Northeast
The Northeast Region will see seven Second Round games (two on Tuesday and five on Wednesday) and seven new teams from the USL Championship taking on winners from the previous round.


(West Chester SC - the PA-based pros - are still on the road)

West Chester United, scrappy amateurs out of suburban PA, played four away-qualifying games and a First Rounder in Baltimore, racking up hundreds of road miles in the space of their five games so far. And they’re at again in the Second Round – heading to Birmingham, Alabama to face the Legion, first-year USL Championship side led by President and General manager Jay Heaps. “It’s a bummer we’re on the road yet again,” said West Chester defender Peter Nolan. “It’s almost unfathomable to think we’ve been on the road every game. It’s not a motivating factor but it makes things difficult with logistics and work.”

Among the most appealing matchups is Reading United’s trip to Louisville, where they’ll take on Louisville City at Lynn Stadium on the University of Louisville campus. Reading, a minor-league affiliate of MLS’ Philadelphia Union and perennially among the top developmental teams in the country, struggled against Philadelphia Lone Star in their opener last week, but eventually won out 2-1 against ten men. But the early rounds of the Open Cup are often difficult on the USL League Two teams (formerly PDL) coming as early as it does in their season, with players still finishing exams and rosters still being finalized. It will be interesting to see what Reading can do with a game now under their belts. John Hackworth’s Louisville City, for their part, have no such concerns. Fully professional and together for an extensive pre-season, the back-to-back, reigning USL champions (and the second division team that went farthest in last year’s Open Cup - Quarterfinal), will want to show their panache right out of the gate.

Hartford Athletic will play their first-ever Open Cup game against New York Cosmos B (NPSL) at the University of Hartford. Playing in their first season as a team in the USL Championship, Athletic will be up against a side led by Danny Szetela, the one-time U.S. National Team up-and-comer, who suffered injuries and briefly quit the game before rising back up with the Cosmos.


(The Richmond Kickers - 1995 champs - are riding a wave of youthful enthusiasm. Photo Jessica Hendricks)

The Richmond Kickers, 1995 U.S. Open Cup Champions, travel to Cary North Carolina to take on the always-powerful North Carolina FC – led by new coach Dave Sarachan. The Kickers are led by David Bulow, the long-time youth coach now in his first year in the top job in Richmond. He was the top-scorer at the 2011 edition of the Open Cup and he knows what it takes to get results in this one-off competition. “When I was playing, we always took the Cup very seriously said Bulow, hoping his 21-year-old Ghanaian striker Charles Boateng – who scored four in a 6-2 win over Virginia United last week – can stay hot. “It’s something that’s always mattered, and still does, at the Richmond Kickers.”

Elsewhere in the Northeast, Pittsburgh Riverhounds host Dayton Dutch Lions (who beat the Erie Commodores in the First Round) at their magnificent Highmark Stadium on the banks of the Monongahela River. Indy Eleven, shocked at this stage last year by Mississippi Brilla, open their doors for Lansing Ignite, who bested AFC Ann Arbor 2-1 in the First Round. Rounding out the region’s action, Memphis 901 FC will take on a fresh-faced New York Red Bulls U23 team at AutoZone Park in Memphis.

Up for the Fight in Southeast
There are four games to look forward to in the Southeast Region, with four USL Championship teams entering the fray and ready to play.

Tampa Bay Rowdies, a venerable old name in American Soccer, open their Al Lang Stadium to The Villages, out of Central Florida. The Villages won out over their USL League Two rivals Florida Tropics and will be hoping to get a little Cup magic going against the Rowdies, who haven’t had the best of luck in recent Open Cup play (they went out early in the last two years).

South Georgia Tormenta 2 pulled off one of the big Cupsets of the First Round with a win over pro side Chattanooga Red Wolves (3-0) of USL League One. Based in Statesboro, Tormenta 2 is the academy feeder for Tormenta FC, who play in the USL League One and were eliminated last week by Grenville Triumph. All Tormenta hopes now lie with Ian Cameron’s youngsters, who travel to take on a Nashville SC side that made a deep run last year to the Round of 16.


(Tormenta fans whipping up a storm in Statesboro, Georgia)

Greenville Triumph, coached by American soccer legend John Harks, host Charleston Battery – the oldest continually operating pro club in the country (tied with Richmond Kickers for the honor) at their Legacy Early College Field in Greenville in an all-South Carolina affair. The Battery, still led by long-time coach Michael Anhaeuser, are heavy on Open Cup tradition and pedigree. They are the last team not from Major League Soccer (MLS) to reach the Final (2008).

The fourth and final game in the region pits SoFla’s Soccer Soldiers (out of the UPSL) against the powerful Charlotte Independence of the USL Championship. The Soccer Soldiers, Sunday-league amateurs, showed tremendous spirit and talent in their First Round win over a professionally run Miami FC side. They didn’t rattle after going down early and they’re bound to be a handful for Irish coach Jim McGuinness’s Independence, who are third from bottom in the Eastern Conference of the USL Championship.

Forward Madison, NTX Rayados Charge On
The Central Region sees seven games (three Tuesday and four Wednesday) kick off this week.

OKC Energy, Oklahoma’s USL Championship side, must have a sense of deja vu with a date against NTX Rayados. The Dallas-based men’s league amateurs beat them in last year’s Second Round and are back hoping to do the same this year after eliminating Little Rock Rangers (NPSL) in the First Round. A team made up of young talent from the local community college system, school teachers and principals, the Rayados have hit on a proven system and are playing in their eighth straight Open Cup. 

The heavyweight contests of Phoenix Rising vs. New Mexico United and Austin Bold vs. Tulsa Roughnecks are the only two games in the region that pit USL Championship sides in direct competition.


(Forward Madison won out in last week's all-Wisconsin First Rounder against Bavarians SC of Milwaukee)

Forward Madison, the first-year USL League One team out of Wisconsin, impressed in last week’s win over reigning national amateur champions Bavarians SC. They’ll be looking for more of the same when they travel the long road south to take on El Paso Locomotive (USL Championship) who are eager to become the first team from El Paso, since the Patriots in 1995, to reach an Open Cup Final. 

Saint Louis FC have had rotten luck moving deep in the tournament in the last few years. They’ll have their hands full again when Des Moines Menace host their Second Rounder in Iowa. The Menace, who have some Open Cup pedigree with a Fourth Round appearance in 2005 and two Third Round appearances in 2013 and 2014, were worthy winners over NPSL’s Duluth FC in the First Round – a game that required a penalty shootout and some fine goal-tending by one Jordan Bell.

Elsewhere in the Central Region, San Antonio FC (USL Championship) take on Laredo Heat of NPSL, who bested Brazos Valley Cavalry in last week’s First Round. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL Championship) meet Sunday-League side FC Denver –dramatic winners over Midland-Odessa Sockers last week – in a replay of their Second Round game of last year that ended 3-2 in favor of the Switchbacks.   

The Best in the West
The Open Cup will be played under the bright lights of Las Vegas, where Cal FC – one of the country’s top amateur sides – take on the Las Vegas Lights of the USL Championship. Aside from the promise of a cracking game on its own terms, the contest sees Lights coach Eric Wynalda up against the team he used to coach. If Cal FC sounds familiar, it’s because, under Wynalda’s tutelage, they went on an almighty Cup run in 2012 and famously beat the Portland Timbers 1-0.

Some of the Cal FC stars of 2012 are back, including Danny Barrera and Richie Menjivar. “I’m just enjoying it so far and hopefully we can make some noise like we did a few years back,” said the El Salvador international Menjivar, ready to take on a Lights side that will be much-depleted as many of Wynalda’s players are Cup-tied for the affair. “I know that the club’s goal is to have a great run like we did last time and I think it’s definitely possible but we’re playing professionally-minded players so each game gets the attention it deserves.”


(Cal FC on their famous day in 2012 when they beat MLS' Portland Timbers in the Open Cup)

El Farolito, out of San Francisco, looked a dynamite side in the First Round when they beat Academica SC in Turlock, California. Leonardo Fredes scored the Open Cup Goal of the Round in that game, but he will be absent from El Farolito’s meeting with Championship side Fresno FC after breaking his arm scoring that very same overhead kick. El Farolito have their own Open Cup pedigree, winning the tournament back in its semi-pro days in 1993 when the club was known as CD Mexico.

There’s an Orange County derby on the cards with Paul Caligiuri’s Orange County FC (NPSL) – conquerors of FC Golden State Force in the First Round – taking on Orange County SC of the USL Championship. What a difference one letter can make!

The West Region (and the Second Round as a whole) wraps with an all-Championship affair between Sacramento Republic, led by former Open Cup winner Simon Elliot, and Reno 1868 FC. The two met at the weekend in league play and Reno can take heart in a 4-1 out. The Republic, for their part, have a chance for revenge served warm.

ussoccer.com is the official website of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with comprehensive video and written coverage throughout the tournament. You can follow the U.S. Open Cup on Twitter and Instagram @OpenCup and Facebook @OfficialOpenCup.

Second Round

Northeast Region

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Time

Venue

May 14

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USLC) vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USLL2)

7 p.m. ET

Highmark Stadium; Pittsburgh, Pa.

May 14

Hartford Athletic (USLC) vs. New York Cosmos B (NPSL)

7:30 p.m. ET

Al-Marzook Field (Univ. of Hartford); Hartford, Conn.

May 15

Indy Eleven (USLC) vs. Lansing Ignite FC (USLL1)

7 p.m. ET

Sellick Bowl (Butler Univ.); Indianapolis, Ind.

May 15

North Carolina FC (USLC) vs. Richmond Kickers (USLL1)

7 p.m. ET

Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.

May 15

Louisville City FC (USLC) vs. Reading United AC (USLL2)

7 p.m. ET

Lynn Stadium (Univ. of Louisville); Louisville, Ky.

May 15

Memphis 901 FC (USLC) vs. New York Red Bulls U23 (USLL2)

7 p.m. CT

AutoZone Park; Memphis, Tenn.

May 15

Birmingham Legion FC (USLC) vs. West Chester United (Pa.)

7 p.m. CT

BBVA Compass Field; Birmingham, Ala.

Southeast Region

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Time

Venue

May 14

Charlotte Independence (USLC) vs. Florida Soccer Soldiers (Fla.)

7 p.m. ET

Mecklenburg County Sportsplex; Matthews, N.C.

May 14

Tampa Bay Rowdies (USLC) vs. The Villages SC (USLL2)

7 p.m. ET

Al Lang Stadium; St. Petersburg, Fla.

May 14

Nashville SC (USLC) vs. South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (USLL2)

7:30 p.m. CT

Dean A. Hayes Track & Soccer Stadium (Middle Tennessee State Univ.); Murfreesboro, Tenn.

May 15

Greenville Triumph SC (USLL1) vs. Charleston Battery (USLC)

7 p.m. ET

Legacy Early College Field; Greenville, S.C.

Central Region

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Time

Venue

May 14

OKC Energy FC (USLC) vs. NTX Rayados (Texas)

7:30 p.m. CT

John Crain Field (Univ. of Oklahoma); Norman, Okla.

May 14

Austin Bold FC (USLC) vs. Tulsa Roughnecks (USLC)

7:30 p.m. CT

Bold Stadium; Del Valle, Texas

May 14

San Antonio FC (USLC) vs. Laredo Heat SC (NPSL)

7:30 p.m. CT

Toyota Field; San Antonio, Texas

May 15

Des Moines Menace (USLL2) vs. Saint Louis FC (USLC)

7:30 p.m. CT

Cownie Soccer Park; Des Moines, Iowa

May 15

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USLC) vs. FC Denver (Colo.)

7 p.m. MDT

Weidner Field; Colorado Springs, Colo.

May 15

El Paso Locomotive FC (USLC) vs. Forward Madison FC (USLL1)

7 p.m. MDT

Southwest University Ballpark; El Paso, Texas

May 15

Phoenix Rising FC (USLC) vs. New Mexico United (USLC)

7:30 p.m. MST

Casino Arizona Field; Tempe, Ariz.

West Region

Date

Game (home team listed first)

Time

Venue

May 14

Las Vegas Lights FC (USLC) vs. Cal FC (Calif.)

7:30 p.m. PT

Cashman Field; Las Vegas, Nev.

May 15

El Farolito (NPSL) vs. Fresno FC (USLC)

2:30 p.m. PT

Boxer Stadium; San Francisco, Calif.

May 15

Sacramento Republic FC (USLC) vs. Reno 1868 FC (USLC)

7:30 p.m. PT

Papa Murphy's Park; Sacramento, Calif.

May 15

Orange County SC (USLC) vs. Orange County FC (NPSL)

7:30 p.m. PT

Orange County Great Park – Championship Soccer Stadium; Irvine, Calif.