Two Down & Two to go: 2023 Third Qualifying Round Picture Comes Into FocusThe first two Qualifying Rounds are behind us and the 36 remaining clubs are two games away from becoming one of nine Open Division teams to reach next year’s Open Cup Proper.
The 36 winners from the Second Qualifying Round of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will now meet in-head-to-head competition in the penultimate phase of Open Division Qualifying on November 19-20. The 18 winners of that Third Qualifying Round will move through to the final stage, scheduled for December, where nine places in the 2023 Open Cup Proper will be on offer.
3️⃣rd Qualifying Round Fixtures set 🗓» https://t.co/js5fhxH80s#USOC2023 🏆 pic.twitter.com/UFyN71MZsI— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) October 19, 2022
Join usopencup.com for a look ahead to some of the marquis matchups of the Third Qualifying Round – like the all-Pennsylvania blockbuster between Vereinigung Erzgebirge and West Chester United and the clash between UPSL national champions Orange County FC and 2021 Open Cup participants Escondido FC.
The 2021 National Amateur Cup-champion Lansdowne Yonkers FC welcome Oyster Bay United FC in a contest between two of the competition's in-form sides that both advanced to the Second Round Proper of the Open Cup last year. The men from Yonkers have yet to concede in two emphatic wins and the Long Islanders knocked out highly rated UPSL league mates Queensboro FC II in the Second Qualifying Round.
Massachusetts’ two remaining combatants will meet in Randolph. Brockton United FC, who reached the 2022 Open Cup Proper via the Open Division Qualifying path, take on Worcester-based Unations, who’ve come this far thanks in part to a forfeit in the Second Qualifying Round.
Farther south, in the state of Pennsylvania, Vereinigung Erzgebirge, who’ve only conceded once in Qualifying, play a third game in a row at their long-time homebase in Warminster. There they’ll take on the 2018 National Amateur Cup runners-up West Chester United SC, who are always a handful on the amateur scene and are coming off a 4-0 rout of the United German Hungarians.
While the luck of the draw is rubbing Vereinigung Erzgebirge’s way, Blaise Santengelo’s men from West Chester will be playing their third Qualifier on the trot away from home.
VE on the Charge in PA
“We are thrilled to be moving onto the next round,” said VE defender Christian Williams, formerly of Lafayette College, after a 2-0 win over Lancaster Elite in the Second Qualifying Round. We have such a talented group of guys on the field, but an even better bond amongst ourselves off the field – so that's what makes winning these games so rewarding.
“We are excited for the next matchup and are planning to stay dangerous each game moving forward,” added Williams, who’s been impressive in the side’s two wins thus far in which the Rob Oldfield-coached VE club have turned their home field into a fortress.
NoVa FC are charging hard to make back-to-back appearances in the Open Cup Proper. After dismantling Germantown City in the Second Qualifying Round, they’ll now face off with a DCFC side who knocked out 2017 Open Cup heroes Christos FC on the last matchday.
KJ Nadeau has been on fire for the Leesburg-based NoVa club, with three goals in the 6-0 rout of Germantown – and seven overall in Open Cup competition (including last year’s Qualifiers).
There are three Third Qualifying Round games in the state of Florida, venue of the recently concluded 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final which saw local MLS side Orlando City defeat USL Championship contenders Sacramento Republic. Among the trio of Sunshine State contests, Open Cup regulars Miami United FC and Club de Lyon look to keep up the form as both are coming off strong showings in the previous round.
California Qualifying Heat
Two of the California-based games out in the western side of the schedule have the makings of Qualifying classics. Orange County FC – reigning UPSL national champions and 2019 Open Cup underdog heroes – are up against 2022 Open Cup participants Escondido FC. Farther north, in the Bay Area, Inter San Francisco, out of the city’s historic SFSFL and who’ve yet to concede a goal in two Qualifying games, aim to keep up the momentum with a home test against Davis Legacy FC.
“We’ve got big goals with Inter so every time we come out and get a good result it feels we’re growing towards a special experience in this Open Cup season,” said Dylan Autran, who had a pair of goals and two assists in the 4-0 mauling of Real San Jose in the Second Qualifying Round.
“I love the mix of players in this team,” added Matt Fondy, scorer of three Inter goals in two games and the only player in the 2023 Qualifying Rounds who can boast of having played in an Open Cup Semifinal. “But the main trendline is that everyone loves playing and competing.
“We’re in it together,” added the former Chicago Fire striker.
Elsewhere, down in the Open Division hotbed of Texas, 2022 Open Cup participants D’Feeters Kicks SC of Dallas meet Houston’s D10 Lions.
Race to the Fourth Round
The 18 winners from the Third Round move on to a Fourth (and final) Qualifying Round scheduled for December 17-18. The nine Open Division slots earmarked for the tournament proper, beginning in March of 2023, will be filled via this route.
Third Round Bound 🚀 #USOC2023
2️⃣nd Qualifying Round REVIEW 📚» https://t.co/qKfpmrgw2A pic.twitter.com/KK2wYjzNpC
Third Round Bound 🚀 #USOC2023
Those nine teams will join 1983 Open Cup runners-up and 2019 participants Bavarian United, out of Glendale, Wisconsin, who earned a direct place in the 2023 Open Cup by winning the U.S. Adult Soccer Association (USASA) National Amateur Cup this summer.
Fontela is editor-in-chief of usopencup.com. Follow him at @jonahfontela on Twitter.