#USOC2024 First Qualifying Round Review: 21 Amateur Clubs on the Road to Dreamland

The First Qualifying Round of the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup sent 21 amateur teams from across the country through to the Second Round – and one step closer to next year’s #USOC2024 Proper.
By: Angelo Maduro

Lionel Messi and joy-boys Inter Miami seem to grab all the headlines ahead of their September 27th Final against fellow MLS elites Houston Dynamo – but it should be noted there’s another universe of American soccer with humbler clubs chasing their own Open Cup Dreams. A field of 42 teams from the Open Division were in action across the country on September 9-10 hunting their own brand of glory.

Join usopencup.com for a look back at all the action – and the 21 sides who booked passage through to the Second Qualifying Round (of four) of the 2024 U.S. Open Cup.

Seven Heaven Strikes Twice

The unforeseen surprises that can strike an amateur side on any given weekend are many and varied. So it shouldn’t be a huge shock when a few lopsided scorelines tumble from the football-lined high school fields and public parks of the annual Qualifying Rounds.

The 2024 First Round saw two teams put seven goals past their opponents in impressive performances that sent a loud message to the rest of the field (of 109 teams). The message is simple: we’re hungry for one of the 11 spots on offer to the 2024 Open Cup Finals in these Qualifying Rounds.

Out in California, UC Davis Club Soccer – who went out at this very first hurdle in last year’s Qualifying Rounds – beat regular contenders Elk Grove Blues (7-1). They never looked back after grabbing two goals in the first quarter-hour and joined Azteca FC – the Denver-area Colorado Premier League side that qualified for last year’s Open Cup Proper – in recording seven-goal hauls.

All of Azteca’s seven tallies came from just two sources – with Alan Salgado scoring the first four and Jovany Herrera adding the next three.

The Davis men move on to meet FC Folsom in the Second Round while Azteca – who benefitted from playing against a nine-man Peak Eleven FC for much of their game – take on familiar foes Harpos FC.

The Bhoys from NY are Back

On the other side of the country – in the always competitive New York Metro Area – 2017 and 2021 USASA National Amateur Cup champions and 2022 Open Cup Proper participants Lansdowne Yonkers FC made easy meat of visiting Connecticut side Ole Football Club (3-0).

Elsewhere in the Northeast, the NY Pancyprian Freedoms – heroes of the old all-semi pro days and Open Cup Champions of 1980, 1982 and 1983 – scraped by 1-0 against NY Braveheart SC. It was no such tight-run thing in Queens, where the Manhattan Kickers were manhandled by NY Renegades FC 5-0 while Zum Schneider FC 03 of the EPSL beat another former champion in NY Greek American SC (3-1).

Open Cup Dreams out West

The Golden State never disappoints in the Open Cup Qualifying Rounds – and these 2024 prelims are shaping up to be no exception. International San Francisco, who reached the 2022 Open Cup Proper with four impressive wins in last year’s Qualifying Rounds, beat crosstown and league (SFSFL) rivals SF Vikings SC 1-0. A lone goal from Dylan Montgomery on the half-hour mark decided the contest.

Another San Francisco-based side – out of the historic Olympic Club – routed Marin County Union 5-1. Not far away, in Fresno, Real San Jose lost yet another First Qualifying Round contest. This time it came against Valley 559 FC and keeps up a tradition of the San Jose side dropping results in Open Cup Qualifying (it’s their sixth straight loss in the competition).

We also saw the first-ever Irvine, CA Derby in the Open Cup Qualifying Rounds – with Irvine Zeta FC taking the laurels over neighbors Irvine FC thanks to goals from Manual Aranda and Mingxuan Zhao in a 3-1 win. Nearby in Laguna Niguel, last year’s Qualifying heroes Capo FC faced little resistance in a 4-1 stroll against Laguna United FC.

FC Folsom of Northern California had to travel to Reno to take on the only Nevada team in the competition (BattleBorn FC) and they pulled off a 3-2 victory.

In the only games involving teams from the Pacific Northwest, Bay Area United FC were in commanding form against JASA RWC of Redwood City in a 6-2 drubbing. Holac FC of Seattle had a tighter contest to contend with – and they needed penalties after a 2-2 tangle with Bellevue Athletic FC to move on.

Capital Performances from DC & Philly

In the nation’s capital we saw DCFC edge a close-run thing against fellow District side MoCO 1776 FC thanks to a single early goal from Andrew Dane (1-0). The Aegean Hawks of Arlington traveled to Leesburg, and beat their hosts VA Revolution Pro 4-1.

Philadelphia Heritage SC edged a shootout after a thrilling 3-3 draw with Kensington Soccer club, while down farther south in Florida, Miami Soccer Academy pulled off a 4-1 win over Dade County FC. Elsewhere in the Sunshine State – venue for the 2023 Open Cup Final between Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami and Hector Herrera’s Houston Dynamo, Hurricane FC went out to O’Shea’s FC of West Palm Beach 4-2. 

Rounding out the action in Texas, Alamo City Soccer Club had little trouble with Central Texas Lobos in a 4-0 result to book a place in the Second Round.

#USOC2024 First Qualifying Round Results

Saturday September 9
SF Vikings SC 0:1 International San Francisco
1:0 MoCo 1776 FC
VA Revolution Pro 1:4 Aegean Hawks FC
Alamo City Soccer Club 4:0 Central Texas Lobos
Lansdowne Yonkers FC 3:0 Ole Football Club
Hurricane FC 2:4 O'Shea's FC
Marin County Union SC 1:5 The Olympic Club
Valley 559 FC 2:0 Real San Jose
Laguna United FC 1:4. Capo FC
Bellevue Athletic FC (4) 2:2 (5) Holac FC
JASA RWC 2:6 Bay Area United FC

Sunday September 10
Harpos FC 2-1 Colorado Rovers
BattleBorn FC 2:3 FC Folsom
Peak Eleven Football Club 0:7 Azteca FC
Philadelphia Heritage SC
(3) 3:3 (0) Kensington Soccer Club
New York Pancyprian Freedoms 1:0 New York Braveheart SC
Dade County FC 1:4  Miami Soccer Academy
Manhattan Kickers FC 0:5 NY Renegades FC
Zum Schneider FC 03
3:1 New York Greek American SC
Irvine Zeta FC 3:1 Irvine FC
UC Davis Club Soccer 7:1 Elk Grove Blues

Maduro is a senior reporter at large for usopencup.com