Let the Cupsets Begin: #USOC2023 Second Round Pairings Set

The Second Round of the annual U.S. Open Cup is the traditional stage when underdogs rise up and begin to nip at heels and have their say against sides from the higher divisions – so let the fun begin.

The Second Round is the traditional start of Cupset Season in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

It’s the first stage when the different tiers of the American Soccer pyramid begin to mingle and, without fail, and every year, lower-level teams rise to the occasion and beat their so-called betters.

Amateurs rise and pros fall. And it’s safe to say that 2023 will be no different.

Among the schedule of 30 Second Round games are 16 matches between the Division III pro sides (NISA, MLS Next Pro and USL League One) and USL Championship clubs (the second-tier of American professional soccer). There will also be six contests in which First Round winners (amateurs and semi-pros all) take on Division III professionals.

And in the biggest mismatches – at least on paper – are eight games between First Round Open Division winners and USL Championship second-division professionals. The gulf between is massive – and so is the jeopardy for the higher-ranked teams. 

It’s worth noting that in last year’s Open Cup, one of the two surviving teams on Final day hailed from the second-division USL Championship. Sacramento Republic’s run to the Final was the stuff of legend – and something all underdog fans will want to see again this year.

Union Omaha shocked the competition in 2022 – reaching all the way to the Quarters

Last year’s runners-up from Sacramento, who beat three MLS teams en route to the Final, begin their 2023 account against whichever amateur side wins the First Rounder between Project 510 and Crossfire Premier. Union Omaha – the third-division Cinderellas who got past two MLS sides to reach last year’s Quarterfinal – will open their account at home against El Paso Locomotive of the USL Championship.

Another third-division striver from 2022, the Northern Colorado Hailstorm, face a familiar opener in the Second Round against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks of the USL Championship. The USL League One team from Fort Collins beat the Switchbacks last year in their first game as a club before going on to get the better of Real Salt Lake of MLS on the road in the Third Round.

There’s a few city derbies on offer in the Second Round too, with Tulsa FC (USL Championship) taking on amateurs Tulsa Athletic, the NPSL side who’ve chosen to adorn their jerseys with images of Open Cup glory from the tournament’s 109-year history. Detroit City FC, who caused a sensation last year with a Third Round win over Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, will host cross-city new boys Gold Star Detroit of NISA.
Amateur regulars FC Motown on New Jersey went fatherst in 2022 among Open Division teams

San Diego Loyal, the USL Championship team owned by former Open Cup winner (with LA Galaxy) Landon Donovan, take on city rivals ALBION San Diego of the third division (NISA).

Teams from Major League Soccer – the top of the American professional soccer pyramid and producers of all but one Open Cup winner since 1996 – enter in the Third Round, with 18 lower seeded teams joining.

The remaining eight join the party in the subsequent Round of 32. 

2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – Second Round Pairings

Division II vs. Division III (16 games, hosts listed first)

Union Omaha (USLL1) vs. El Paso Locomotive FC (USLC)
Central Valley Fuego FC (USLL1) vs. Monterey Bay F.C. (USLC)
Detroit City FC (USLC) vs. Gold Star Detroit (NISA)
Indy Eleven (USLC) vs. Michigan Stars FC (NISA)
Louisville City FC (USLC) vs. Lexington Sporting Club (USLL1)
Loudoun United (USLC) vs. North Carolina FC (USLL1)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USLC) vs. Rochester New York FC (MLSNP)
Charleston Battery (USLC) vs. Savannah Clovers FC (NISA)
Club de Lyon (NISA) vs. San Antonio FC (USLC)
One Knoxville SC (USLL1) vs. Memphis 901 FC (USLC)
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (USLL1) vs. Birmingham Legion FC (USLC)
South Georgia Tormenta FC (USLL1) vs. Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (USLC)
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USLC) vs. Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (USLL1)
Las Vegas Lights FC (USLC) vs. Los Angeles Force (NISA)
San Diego Loyal SC (USLC) vs. ALBION San Diego (NISA)
Phoenix Rising FC (USLC) vs. Greenville Triumph SC (USLL1) 

Detroit City were a sensation in the 2022 Open Cup – beating MLS’ Columbus Crew

Division II vs. Open Division First Round Winners (8 games, hosts listed first)

Tulsa Athletic (NPSL) vs. FC Tulsa (USLC)
FC Tulsa (USLC) vs. Brazos Valley Cavalry FC (USLL2)
Hartford Athletic (USLC) vs. Hartford City FC (NPSL) / Lansdowne Yonkers FC (N.Y.)
Miami FC (USLC) vs. Jacksonville Armada FC (NPSL) / Miami United FC (Fla.)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (USLC) vs. Club de Lyon (Fla.) / Nona FC (USLL2)
New Mexico United (USLC) vs. Park City Red Wolves (USLL2) / UDA Soccer (N.M.)
Orange County SC (USLC) vs. Ventura County Fusion (USLL2) / Capo FC (Calif.)
Sacramento Republic FC (USLC) vs. Crossfire Premier (NPSL) / Project 51O (USLL2)
Oakland Roots (USLC) vs. El Farolito (NPSL) / International San Francisco (Calif.)

Division III vs. Open Division First Round Winners (6 games, hosts listed first)

Forward Madison FC (USLL1) vs. Bavarian United (Wis.) / Chicago House AC (Ill.)
Des Moines Menace (USLL2) vs. Chattanooga FC (NISA)
Beaman United FC (Tenn.) vs. Chattanooga FC (NISA)
Richmond Kickers (USLL1) vs. Cleveland SC (NPSL) / Lionsbridge FC (USLL2)
Maryland Bobcats FC (NISA) vs. OC Nor'easters (USLL2) / West Chester United SC (Pa.)
Flower City Union (NISA) vs. FC Motown (NPSL) / Manhattan SC (USLL2)
Charlotte Independence (USLL1) vs. Appalachian FC (NPSL) / NC Fusion (USLL2)