Professional Clubs Dominate Second Night of 2024 U.S. Open Cup First Round

After an Opening Night Full of Upsets, Only Two Amateur Sides Advanced on Night Two; Division III USL1 and MLSNP Teams Swept All Matches in Which They Played; First Round Concludes with 10 Contests on Thursday, All Streamed Live at watch.usopencup.com

CHICAGO (March 20, 2024) – The First Round of the 109th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup continued Wednesday with a much different vibe from the opening night. Gone were the many upsets as Division III pro teams from USL League 1, MLS NEXT Pro and NISA won nearly every contest in which they played, going 11-1-0 across the matchday’s 12 played games.

The only blemish for the pros came from NISA’s Capo FC, who twice came back against USL League 2 underdogs Des Moines Menace only to fall in penalties on the final spot kick in a dramatic contest featuring late goals and former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Sacha Kljestan coming out of retirement to captain the legendary amateur side. 

The night was not without drama however as four matches were not decided until the 80th minute or later. NISA side Club de Lyon was the first to leave it late, scoring the winner in the 90th minute of a 3-2 goal-fest with UPSL amateurs AS Frenzi. Fellow NISA squad Los Angeles Force found a winner in the 84th minute of a hard-fought win against USL2’s Redlands FC.

A pair of USL1 clubs from the West Coast also wound the clock down before notching go-ahead tallies. First, Central Valley Fuego, coached by former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Jermaine Jones, notched a winner in the 82nd minute of a 2-1 road win against talented UPSL side FC Folsom. Minutes later up the coast in Washington, Spokane Velocity FC grabbed a stoppage time winner in the 96th minute to outlast plucky USL2 fighters Ballard FC in a hard-nosed match that presaged a cracking new rivalry in the Pacific Northwest.

After its teams lost all their matches on opening night, MLS NEXT Pro sides upped their game on night two with New York Red Bulls II, Chicago Fire II and Minnesota United FC2 delivering the most lopsided scorelines of the competition so far.

The only match not to be played was the result of Georgia Lions (NISA) having to forfeit, thus granting NPSL amateurs Apotheos FC a ticket to the Second Round

The First Round concludes Thursday with 10 matches across the country beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The 16 victors from the First Round will square off against each other in the Second Round from April 2-3. The Second Round matchups will be announced by U.S. Soccer this Friday. 

Every match of the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will be broadcast for fans to watch across the country. Catch every thrilling moment of the First and Second Rounds via streaming broadcasts from U.S. Soccer (watch.usopencup.com), USL (uslsoccer.com/watch), and MLS (mlssoccer.com/usopencup-live-streams). Check usopencup.com for the full First Round schedule.

2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup First Round Results – Wednesday, March 20

Richmond Kickers (USL1) 1 : 0 Christos FC (Open/MSSL/USASA)
AS Frenzi (UPSL) 2 : 3 Club de Lyon (NISA)
South Carolina United SC (USL2) 0 : 1 Greenville Triumph SC (USL1)
Ashville City SC (USL2) 0 : 2 One Knoxville SC (USL1)
Apotheos FC (NPSL) 1 : 0 Georgia Lions FC (NISA) (forfeit)
New York Red Bulls II (MLSNP) 5 : 1 Hudson Valley Hammers (USL2)
Chicago Fire II (MLSNP) 6 : 0 Chicago City SC (USL2)
Chicago House AC (Open/MPL/USASA) 0 : 3 Minnesota United FC2 (MLSNP)
FC Folsom (UPSL) 1 : 2 Central Valley Fuego FC (ULS1)
Irvine Zeta FC (NISA) 1 : 0 SC MesoAmerica (CSA/USASA)
Los Angeles Force (NISA) 2 : 1 Redlands FC (USL2)
Ballard FC (USL2) 0 : 1 Spokane Velocity FC (USL1)
Capo FC (NISA) 2 : 2 (aet) Des Moines Menace (USL2) (4-5 PKs)

2024 U.S. Open Cup First Round Match Capsules

Richmond Kickers (USL League 1) 1 : 0 Christos FC (Open/Maryland State Soccer League)

It wasn’t a game chock-full of incident or attacking intent. The only goal of the day – in this replay of a Third Round contest from 2017 that saw Christos become the amateur darlings of that year’s tournament – had more luck to it than style. A long ball from goalkeeper Pablo Jara in the dying seconds of the first half took an awkward bounce to bamboozle Christos’ defensive unit and fall to the feet of Adrian Billhardt. The striker made no mistake as the Richmond Kickers – the longest continually operating professional soccer club in America and the 1995 Open Cup champions – went into the break with a slender 1-0 lead. It’s a lead that held up despite Christos, who had the first chance of the game when Chandler O’Dwyer’s hit from distance came back off the Kickers’ crossbar on the half-hour mark, turning up the temperature as the second half wore on.

AS Frenzi (UPSL) 2 : 3 Club de Lyon (NISA)

Captain Juan Martinez's second goal snapped a 2-2 deadlock in the 90th minute to lift Club de Lyon over 10-man Frenzi at Daytona State College Soccer Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla. Lyon reached the second round for the second successive year. Martinez, 38, headed home a corner kick at the far left post past goalkeeper Biel Cespedes. It initially looked like Lyon was going to breeze to victory, connecting twice in the opening 23 minutes. The visitors took a 1-0 lead off a corner kick that was headed home by Sebastian Mateus in the ninth minute. Martinez drilled a 12-yard shot into the lower left corner to double the advantage in the 23rd. But a resilient Frenzi side grew into the match. Miranda's header off Alexander Dollard's right-wing cross beat keeper Hector Melendez in the 32nd. Two minutes into the second half, Alexander sent in a low feed from the right flank that Jean Forestal fired home to equalize at 2-2. The game, however, started to tilt in Lyon's favor in the 53rd when Frenzi's Justin Dorman was given his marching orders for his second yellow card.

South Carolina United SC (USL League 2) 0 : 1 Greenville Triumph SC (USL League 1)

A Palmetto State showdown – and the first inter-USL affair of the 2024 tournament – saw Greenville Triumph SC of USL League 1 close out a mostly dominant effort by the slimmest of margins in Columbia. Controversy knocked twice in the 36th minute and both instances went against Greenville, which first saw a point-blank shot blocked off the chest (and/or maybe arm) of a Bantams FC defender on the goalline, followed seconds later by a SCU foul that was dangerously close to forcing a point to the spot from referee Joe Tompkins. Greenville’s breakthrough finally came in the 44th minute with Leo Castro’s finish off a set piece service to the six. The redirect gave the well-traveled Colombian a goal in his 13th different competition across a career now spanning 17 seasons and three continents. Triumph SC would potentially rue two other big chances from Castro just missing on either of halftime, and the field remained tilted largely their way … until playing it out of the back nearly went wrong in the 83rd minute. Triumph defender Brandon Fricke’s off touch 25 yards from goal put Gavin Scott in 1-v-1, but Bantam FC’s best chance of the night was thwarted by Gunther Rakenburg’s kick save. A Max Landau bicycle attempt and one final SCU corner provided nervy moments until the very last tick of five minutes of stoppage, but the USL League Two side finally ran out of time and saw the chance for a first Open Cup win go for naught.

Ashville City SC (USL League 2) 0 : 2 One Knoxville SC (USL League 1)

Sometimes Open Cup matches mean a little more … like when a Gold Hiking Boot Trophy and a little history are on the line. The Magic of the Cup combined forces with the Smoky Mountain Series to produce One Knoxville SC’s first U.S. Open Cup victory in its second try, resulting in a Second Round berth for the League 1 squad and a defeat for the amateurs from Asheville in their Open Cup debut. One Knox struck first in the 13th minute through Rodolfo Castro, Jr., when he finished a Francis Ross assist for a deserved early lead. City found more of the attack as the half crossed the 20th minute, and Fredrico Ferreira’s blast from distance one minute into stoppage nearly evened things before the break. Instead, Castro found his and Knoxville’s second at the death of the stanza three minutes later, knocking home a low finish from eight yards for a smashing blow to City’s hopes. Asheville applied more pressure in spurts throughout the second half, aided at the stroke of the hour mark by One Knox defender Jalen Crisler’s heavy tackle at the edge of his own penalty area that resulted in his second yellow. Despite the man disadvantage Knoxville capably saw things out over the final half hour to post a memorable win in one of American soccer’s more increasingly interesting rivalries (and, of course, retain the Boot).

New York Red Bulls II (MLS NEXT Pro) 5 : 1 Hudson Valley Hammers (USL League 2)

Mohammed Sofo scored one goal and set up another in the first half to spark the Red Bulls II against 10-man Hudson Valley on Pittser Field at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J. The hosts’ domination intensified after Hammers center back Dylan Evande was red carded in the 12th minute. Five minutes later, Sofo sent a right-wing cross that midfielder Dylan Sullivan buried from two yards against a team that is owned by his stepbrother, U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Tyler Adams, and whose father Darryl Sullivan, is sporting director. Sofo converted a rebound of an Aiden Jarvis shot past goalkeeper Steven Ortiz for a 2-0 margin in the 43rd. Jarvis put the game out of reach with a goal in the 63rd. After Israel Nieto pulled one back for the visitors in the 79th, Red Bulls II’s Malick Dembele (83rd) tallied in his team debut, and Ibrahim Kasule put a bow on the match with a goal a minute into stoppage time.

Chicago Fire FC II (MLS NEXT Pro)  6 : 0 Chicago City SC (USL League 2) 
An early own goal put amateur side Chicago City behind the eightball from the jump against Div. III pros Chicago Fire II who poured in four second half goals en route to a 6-0 win and a spot in the Second Round. The one sided affair got off to a rough start for the visitors as Aleksandar Labovic put the ball through the back of his own net in the 6th minute. Although the Fire didnt score again until first half stoppage time, the MLS NEXT Pro side bossed proceedings throughout. After Giovanni Granda made it 2-0 just before the break, the Fire pulled away in the second stanza. David Poreba (65'), Michael Nesci (70'), Harold Osorio (84') and Vitaliy Hlyut (86') finished off the route with a quartet of well taken goals to close out the match.

Chicago House AC (Midwest Premier League) 0 : 3 Minnesota United FC2 (MLS NEXT Pro)

It was a fiesty affair in Elmhurst, IL just outside the Windy City as Chicago House AC fought to the bitter end of a 3-0 loss to Minnesota United FC2. An early fracas in the 8th minute after a late challenge from a House defender on Alisa Randell set the tone for the match as the amateur side from Chicago sought a second Open Cup upset in as many years. But after a scoreless first 45, MNUFC2’s Jordan Adebayo-Smith turned on the style, with a quick fire brace (52’ and 55’) to start the second half. The speedster then recorded the first hat trick of the 2024 competition with a goal in stoppage time that put paid to any hopes of a House comeback.

FC Folsom (UPSL) 1 : 2 Central Valley Fuego FC (ULS1)

Grenada international forward Shavon John-Brown broke a 1-1 tie in the 82nd minute at Folsom Lake College in Folsom, Calif. Jose Carrera-Garcia launched a long ball from his own half to John-Brown, who looped the ball over goalkeeper Maxx Michael Willard with a fine touch from the middle of the box for the game-winner. Coached by former U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Jermaine Jones, Fuego grabbed a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute when center back Jason Ramos headed in an Ernesto Espinoza feed that originated from a corner kick. In the 43rd minute, Fuego played with fire when goalie Andre Zuluaga found himself in no man's land, leaving an open net. Bryce Pando whipped a shot that Clayton Torr cleared off the line. Fulsom, however, could not be stopped from temporarily knotting things up in the 51st minute, as Moshi Wilondja headed in a Dalton Pando pass off a corner kick.

Irvine Zeta FC (NISA) 1 : 0 SC MesoAmerica (CSA/USASA)

Irvine Zeta FC’s victory Wednesday night in Long Beach had to be a historic first win in Open Cup play not because of necessity or destiny … but because it was the NISA side’s inaugural match in the competition as a pro side. There was no sign of first game jitters, as the “pro representative” from the Zeta FC camp (its UPSL side will compete tomorrow night) controlled the run of play against MesoAmerica, the defending National Amateur Cup champion out of the USASA, until it decided to persevere and hold on for the result. A simple give-and-go at the edge of the final third in the 13th minute seemed harmless enough, but it allowed Shinya Kadono to find a sizeable pocket of space from which his 30-yard blast swerved past the MesoAmerica ‘keeper. The visitors were unlucky not to equalize in the 30th minute, as it took Mitchell North’s low, lunging save at the top of his area to stymy Leonardo Espinoza’s breakaway chance. It was midway through the second half until MesoAmerica would threaten again, but Claudio Munoz sent his header from deep inside the area right to a waiting North. Irvine dropped numbers back to protect its lead more and more as the 90 minutes drew nearer to conclusion, conceding the ball and the better of the chances usually without much consequence over the final half hour. The task became near impossible once MesoAmerica’s Gonzalo Salguero received a second yellow in the 87th minute, and Irvine Zeta FC had no resistance from there on its way to writing a successful first page in the club’s history book.

Los Angeles Force (NISA) 2 : 1 Redlands FC (USL2)

The third time was the charm for the Force, which notched its first Open Cup victory after losing its tournament opener in each of the previous two years. Jose Montes de Oca did the honors, snapping a 1-1 tie in the 84th minute at Long Beach Community College in Long Beach, Calif. Dante Brigida sent a left-wing cross into the box that Joel Quist headed down to de Oca, who drilled a shot past keeper Daniel Ramirez. The Force drew first blood in the 40th minute as Quist slid home Brigida's right-wing feed into the net. Two minutes later, Ethan Benham, off a nice cut-in move, temporarily equalized for Redlands FC from the left side of the area past goalie Seth Torman.

Ballard FC (USL2) 0 : 1 Spokane Velocity FC (USL1)

A match-up featuring two tournament debutants – and the evening’s third all-USL affair – was left to the literal last seconds when Andre Lewis’s loose-ball finish in the 97th minute gave Spokane Velocity FC a smash-and-grab win in a stunning first chapter of a new Washington derby. After a frantic and physical opening, the traffic began to flow Ballard’s way, a growing wave of attacks by the defending USL League Two champion building towards Peter Kingston’s 17th minute attempt to catch Spokane’s Peter Swinkels asleep at his near post. The first-year USL League One side from Eastern Washington eventually found some footing on the counter, and Josh Dolling knew immediately that his open header in the 39th minute should have been steered on frame after Michael Rojas served his cross on a platter. The second half was heavy on hustle and short on chill, defined by a whiplash, back-and-forth style that created few looks of note but entertained nonetheless. It was Dolling’s wide flick-on of Romain Metanire’s near-post ball in the 83rd minute that temporarily broke that mold, hinting that overtime time might not be necessary. Velocity FC made it so when, well past the minimum of four minutes of stoppage time, Lewis ran at full pace to beat a Ballard defender to a knocked down corner kick 10 yards from goal. The Jamaican’s first-time, roofed finish was just the moment needed to spark a new rivalry in the Pacific Northwest and send Velocity FC to the Second Round.

Capo FC (NISA) 2 : 2 (aet) Des Moines Menace (USL2) 4-5 PKs

The Des Moines Menace – fabled giant-killers of Open Cup legend and lore – pulled off a pre-game coup by signing former USMNT midfielder, MLS all-star and U.S. Olympian Sacha Kljestan to a short-term contract to play in his beloved Open Cup. Brian Rowe, Kljestan’s former Orlando City teammate, also joined the party – and his sprawling save in the 20th minute helped the Menace see off a wave of attacks from the NISA pros Capo FC. It was an intervention that helped keep the score at zeros until the interval. In the second half, a long, pinpoint Kljestan ball from deep in midfield picked out Cyrus Harmon, who collected the ball expertly and finished calmly from 12 yards in the 52nd minute. But the last game of the night had more to offer as Parker Scalzo took a high bouncing ball out of the air with an elegant full volley in the 65th minute to draw the hosts level and force extra-time. The Menace must have thought they’d iced it in the 116th minute when Leroy Enzugusi latched on to a spilled ball and scored from close range. But with only seconds to go in the second period of extra-time, the free-scoring Scalzo struck again after Rowe misjudged a lofted ball into the penalty area. And then – as if scripted – it was Scalzo, two-goal hero of Capo FC, who stepped up to take the tenth penalty of the lottery only to fire over the bar after all before him had scored.