The Dream Returns: #USOC2022 First Round Preview

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is back from a two-year break and the 2022 edition offers up 16 all-amateur encounters in a 32-team First Round between March 22-23.
Jonah Fontela

The 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – following a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – returns this week with 32 amateur teams from the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), United Soccer League’s (USL) League Two and the various Local Qualifiers contesting 16 First Round games. 

 

All the games will be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ and US Soccer’s official YouTube channel on March 22 and 23 from venues across the country.

 

 

 

The northeastern corridor offers up a spate of interesting encounters as a handful of clubs with proud Open Cup histories and newcomers alike go head-to-head. 

 

Talent-packed Northeast

 

FC Motown (from Morristown, New Jersey – not Detroit, Michigan) are back for their fourth tilt at the oldest trophy in American soccer. Head coach Sacir Hot – formerly of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) New York Red Bulls – has a few other former NYRB men to lean on in his squad as 32-year-old Dilly Duka and 30-year-old defender Gideon Baah line up alongside what the coach calls “a mish-mash” of young blood and old campaigners.

 

 

“We’re going to throw some stuff at the wall and hope that it sticks,” added Hot, who’s going up against old friend and rival Blaise Santangelo and his West Chester United – who return for their third Open Cup since debuting in 2016. “I think we [Motown] are underdogs in this game.”  

Oyster Bay United FC

Hartford City FC host Oyster Bay United FC of Long Island at the historic Dillon Stadium, built in 1935 and venue of many Open Cup contests through the years. The men from the Nutmeg State will have their hands full against Oyster Bay, who may be young as a club but have hit the ground running as they aim to make waves on the national stage. 

 

 

Good results are the consequence of good preparation during the week," said Oyster Bay’s 26-year-old head coach Josue Esqueche, who led his team through a grueling three-game qualifying run to reach the Cup. "We’ve kept building good performances during the preseason and that’s what gives the team the confidence to face challenges."

 

A bit farther south, 10-time Open Cup participants and historic giant killers Ocean City Nor’easters, out of coastal New Jersey, host Lansdowne Yonkers FC (national amateur champions of 2017 and 2021) at their Carey Stadium, better known to locals and fans as ‘the Beach House’. 

 

 

USL League Two side Western Mass Pioneers (formerly Gremio Lusitano) welcome Open Cup newcomers Brockton United FC – a team who’ve been tearing through the Boston-area Bay State Soccer League (BSSL) in the last five years – to their hand-built, soccer-specific stadium in Ludlow, Massachusetts. 

 

 

USOC Action South and Central

 

Moving farther south, Villages SC, back for their fourth Open Cup, play hosts to fellow Sunshine Staters Orlando FC Wolves in Summerfield in the first of two all-Florida affairs in the opening round. The other sees Miami United FC of NPSL back for their fourth Cup at the Ted Hendricks Stadium against visitors City Soccer FC out of West Palm Beach. 

 

Texas will see an all-NPSL contest between the Denton Diablos, who qualified for their first Open Cup in 2020 only to see the COVID-19 pandemic squash their inaugural dreams, make their long-awaited debut against local outfit D’Feeters Kicks Soccer Club. 

 

There’s another all-NPSL First Rounder in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where Southern States SC Stars and the global cavalcade of rising talent that is Georgia Revolution meet, while a cross-border clash of the Carolinas pits South Carolina United FC Bantams against North Carolina Fusion (both of USL’s League Two).

Minneapolis City fans will need to show up in Des Moines 

Two Local Qualifiers from Virginia will also be in action when Lynchburg FC host Nova FC -- a team that cruised to a 5-0 victory in their final fall qualifier (scoring three of those goals after having two men sent off before the half) . 

 

Midwestern debutants Cleveland SC of the NPSL open the doors to George Finnie Stadium (a ground with deep Open Cup history going back to the mid-1970s) to two-time Open Cup veterans Chicago FC United. 




And in one of the most hotly anticipated games of the opening round, Minneapolis City SC finally make their Open Cup debut after a series of unfortunate events saw them previously disqualified (2017) and otherwise thwarted in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The Mighty Crows, as City are known to their flock of fans, take on a powerful Des Moines Menace club on the road at the Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.

 

The Iowans, founded in 1994, are the second-best giant-killers in Open Cup history and defending USL League Two national champions. 

 

 

The Best of the West

 

The western part of the country never fails to produce exciting early-round Open Cup contests and 2022 is likely to be no exception. 

 

There’s an all-Southern California (and all United Premier Soccer League - UPSL) meeting at the Sepulveda Basin Sports Complex in Encino between youth-team-turned men’s league stars San Fernando Valley FC and Escondido FC.

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The third participant from California, Contra Costa FC, travel to Oregon to take on a familiar name in the Portland Timbers U-23s (of USL’s League Two) at John Chambers Field in Salem. 

San Fernando Valley FC in training

Oklahoma will see a contest between home side Tulsa Athletic of NPSL and Coloradan visitors Azteca FC, while the 16 games of the First Round conclude with ski-heaven representatives Park City Red Wolves of Utah (and USL League Two) heading to Vegas.

 

There they’ll take on the Las Vegas Legends FC, a club whose sporting director just so happens to be former U.S. Men’s National Team hero and Open Cup evangelist Eric Wynalda. 

 

The 16 winners from the First Round will move on to face professional opposition in the Second Round (April 5-7). 

 

First Round – Tuesday, March 22

ESPN+

7 p.m. ET

FC Motown (NPSL)

West Chester United SC (USLL2)

MSU Soccer Park; Montclair, N.J.

USSF YT

7:15 p.m. ET

Cleveland SC (NPSL)

Chicago FC United (USLL2)

George Finnie Stadium; Berea, Ohio

ESPN+

7:30 p.m. ET

Hartford City FC (NPSL)

Oyster Bay United FC (N.Y.)

Dillon Stadium; Hartford, Conn.

USSF YT

7:30 p.m. ET

The Villages SC (USLL2)

Orlando FC Wolves (Fla.)

The Villages SC Complex; Summerfield, Fla.

USSF YT

7:30 p.m. CT

Southern States SC Stars (NPSL)

Georgia Revolution FC (NPSL)

The Oakes; Hattiesburg, Miss.

ESPN+

7:30 p.m. CT

Denton Diablos FC (NPSL)

D'Feeters Kicks Soccer Club (Texas)

UNT Soccer and Track & Field Stadium; Denton, Texas

 

First Round – Wednesday, March 23

ESPN+

7 p.m. ET

Ocean City Nor'easters (USLL2)

Lansdowne Yonkers FC (N.Y.)

Carey Stadium; Ocean City, N.J.

USSF YT

7 p.m. ET

Lynchburg FC (Va.)

Nova FC (Va.)

Lynchburg City Stadium; Lynchburg, Va.

USSF YT

7 p.m. ET

South Carolina United FC (USLL2)

NC Fusion U23 (USLL2)

SEFL Soccer Complex; Columbia, S.C.

USSF YT

7:30 p.m. ET

Western Mass Pioneers (USLL2)

Brockton FC United (Mass.)

Lusitano Stadium; Ludlow, Mass.

ESPN+

7:30 p.m. ET

Miami United FC (NPSL)

City Soccer FC (Fla.)

Ted Hendricks Stadium; Hialeah, Fla.

ESPN+

7 p.m. CT

Des Moines Menace (USLL2)

Minneapolis City SC (NPSL)

Valley Stadium; West Des Moines, Iowa

USSF YT

7 p.m. CT

Tulsa Athletic (NPSL)

Azteca FC (Colo.)

Case Soccer Complex (ORU); Tulsa, Okla.

USSF YT

2:45 p.m. PT

San Fernando Valley FC (Calif.)

Escondido FC (Calif.)

Sepulveda Basin Sports Complex; Encino, Calif.

USSF YT

7 p.m. PT

Portland Timbers U23 (USLL2)

Contra Costa FC (Calif.)

John Chambers Field; Salem, Ore.

ESPN+

7:30 p.m. PT

Las Vegas Legends FC (NPSL)

Park City Red Wolves SC (USLL2)

Peter Johann Soccer Field (UNLV); Las Vegas, N.V.