2024 US Open Cup Qualifying: Win and You’re In Weekend preview

2024 US Open Cup Qualifying: Win and You’re In Weekend preview
2024 US Open Cup Qualifying: Win and You’re In Weekend preview

2024 US Open Cup Qualifying: Win and You’re In Weekend preview It’s ‘Win & You’re In Weekend’ as 11 amateur clubs will try to punch their ticket to the 2024 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The 11 winners across Saturday (7 games) and Sunday (4 games) will qualify for the 109th edition of the United States’ national championship that is scheduled to kick off next spring. Below you will find a preview of each game with links to live video. Check out @USOpenCup on X/Twitter all weekend for updates from every game and updated links to live video streams. (All Times Eastern)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18

UDA Soccer (UPSL)vs.Azteca FC (USSSA/Colorado Premier League)New Mexico State Univ. Club Soccer Field; Las Cruces, NM Kickoff: 3 p.m. LIVE VIDEO (YouTube)

By Josh Hakala The opening match of “Win & You’re In Weekend” will feature a rematch from last year’s tournament. About 11 months ago, UDA Soccer traveled to Commerce City, Colo. and won a thrilling penalty kick shootout after a 4-4 draw against Azteca FC to earn the club’s first Open Cup berth. This year, the Colorado Premier League’s Azteca FC will travel to New Mexico. UDA Soccer made history that day as the second Open Division team affiliated with a university to qualify in the US Open Cup’s Modern Era (1995-present). The New Mexico State University-based club joined Brigham Young University who qualified as a member of USL League Two (then the “Premier Development League”) three times (2006, 2007, 2015). UDA Soccer has had a relatively easy path to the final round. After getting a first round bye, the New Mexico club edged Coronado Athletic Club (Colo.) before getting a free pass in Round 3 after Sporting Arizona FC forfeited. Atzeca FC kicked off their qualifying run with a 7-0 road win over Peak Eleven FC. Their next two wins were much more competitive. They eliminated a pair of Colorado-based powers with a 2-1 win over Harpos FC, followed by a 2-0 win over FC Denver. While UDA Soccer is aiming to qualify for a second time, Azteca are seeking a fourth Open Cup berth in the last six attempts. Azteca has qualified three times (2017, 2018, 2022), and has reached the final round of the competition in all six attempts.

Valhalla FC (USASA/Ohio Valley Premier League)vs.Chicago House AC (USASA/Midwest Premier League)Charity Lucas Soccer Stadium; Milford, OH Kickoff: 3 p.m. LIVE VIDEO (YouTube)

By Michael Battista

Since its creation in 2018, Valhalla FC has had one goal in mind: playing a professional team in the US Open Cup. The Cincinnati side is now one win away from qualifying for the tournament proper, the closest it’s ever been (including multiple appearances in the national amateur cup). VFC opened qualifying against a Windy City side by knocking off the Chicago Kickers. A longer trip to west New York saw the side win convincingly against Sahara Gunners FC, 10-1.

Chicago House AC has done a lot in its short history, from being a professional team to knocking one off in the Open Cup. Last year, House reached the Third Round by beating Forward Madison FC (USL League One). That led to a match against the Chicago Fire FC, which was extra special for team president Peter Wilt. Trying to get back there, House hadn’t left Chicago until now. The team beat Wisloka Chicago and league mate Edgewater Castle FC in subsequent rounds to reach this point.

Northern Virginia FC (USASA/EPSL)vs.Christos FC (USASA/MSSL)Segra Field; Leesburg, VA Kickoff: 7 p.m. LIVE VIDEO (YouTube)

By Michael Battista

Both Northern Virginia FC and Christos FC had byes in the first qualifying round. Meaning both teams won two games to reach this point. NoVa knocked off two Washington D.C. clubs to get here. A second round cruise past DC FC was followed up by a closer 2-1 win over Yinz United. The defending two-time Eastern Premier Soccer League champion is looking to qualify for a fourth tournament and first since 2022. Christos FC made waves about six years ago in the Open Cup when they gave D.C. United an early scare. However, since that 2017 tournament the team hasn’t gotten past the first round. In their attempt to return this year the team thrashed Aegean Hawks FC, 5-0, in the second qualifying round. A Super Soccer League clash last round needed penalty kicks to get Christos past Steel Pulse FC.

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FC America CFL Spurs (UPSL)vs.Leg-AZ World FC (UPSL)Lake Mary High School – Lake Mary, FL Kickoff: 7 p.m. LIVE VIDEO (YouTube)

By Josh Hakala A pair of first-time entries from central Florida square off with a trip to the US Open Cup on the line. Leg-AZ World FC (Leg-AZ stands for Life Education Growth – Association of Friends) is currently in first place in the UPSL Florida-Central Division with a 7-1-1 record with an impressive mark of 32 goals for and 5 goals against after nine league games. Just like league play, they’ve had very little trouble in the qualifying tournament. They began with an 8-1 win over fellow UPSL side Royal Palms SC. They followed that up with a 4-0 win over another UPSL side, Florida Premier. FC America CFL Spurs enter “Win & You’re In Weekend” on the strength of back-to-back clean sheet victories. Like Leg-AZ World, the Spurs crushed their opening round opponents, with an 8-0 win over Florida-Central Division bottom-feeders Deportivo Lake Mary. Then a narrow 1-0 win over Harbor City earned them a spot in the final round.

FORO SC (UPSL)vs.Alamo City SC (UPSL)Prince of Peace; Carrolton, TX Kickoff: 8 p.m. LIVE VIDEO (YouTube)

By Michael Battista

By lieu of a first round bye and a third round forfeit, FORO has only played one game in this qualifying tournament. In its only game the UPSL side held a clean sheet against Tenfifteen FC at home.

Like FORO, Alamo City also benefited from a forfeit during its qualifying run. However it played in the first round, needing a 4-0 win over Central Texas Lobos. After bypassing the Austin Longhorns (no relation to the University) next round, the UPSL side knocked off Austin Thunder, 2-1. Like their opponent ACSC is seeking its first trip to the Open Cup proper.

Tennessee Tempo FC (UPSL)vs.South Carolina United Heat (UPSL)Richard Siegel Soccer Complex; Murfreesboro, TN Kickoff: 8 p.m. LIVE VIDEO TBA (Check @USOpenCup for updates)

By Josh Hakala The Tennessee Tempo, the club formerly known as Beaman United, are one win away from a second straight US Open Cup berth. To do that, they will have to host fellow UPSL side South Carolina United Heat, a team that has been painfully close to qualifying each of the last two seasons. Tennessee, who are currently in second place in the UPSL’s Kentucky-Tennessee Division (8-2-0), are hosting for the first time this tournament after back-to-back road games in two different states. They began with a 4-1 win at FC Birmingham (Alabama), followed by a 2-0 win in Florida against Kalonji Pro-Profile. Last year, before the rebranding, they hosted USL League Two power Des Moines Menace, and lost 3-0. SCU Heat, who are currently in first place in the UPSL’s Mid-Atlantic Division (8-0-2), are making their third straight entry into the qualifying tournament and a third straight appearance on “Win & You’re In Weekend”. In 2022, a COVID-19 outbreak among the team’s players forced them to forfeit, allowing Orlando FC Wolves to qualify. Last year, they hosted Club de Lyon and lost 2-1 in extra time. This year, they cruised with a 6-1 win over UPSL side Mint Hill FC, followed by a 4-0 win over Majestic FC (Ga.)

New York Pancyprian Freedoms (USASA/EPSL)vs.Brockton FC United (UPSL)Belson Stadium (St. John’s Univ.); Jamaica, NY Kickoff: 8 p.m. LIVE VIDEO (GameInFrame.com)

By Michael Battista

The last time the Pancyprian Freedoms and Brockton FC United met was on a rainy Massachusetts pit in the fall of 2019. New York won that game due to the weather ending it early, qualifying them for the eventually canceled 2020 tournament.

The three-time US Open Cup champions are on the precipice of a massive return. The last time the team actually played in the Open Cup proper was in 2016 and the Pancyprians are hunting for an eighth qualification (including 2020). Led by a group including a plethora of former professionals, Pancyprians beat NY Braveheart SC and EPSL rival Lansdowne Yonkers FC in consecutive rounds, winning each game by one goal. Their last match against NY Renegades FC was stopped in the 76th minute with NYPF leading 3-0, due to an alleged threat against a referee.

Since the loss in 2020 qualifying, Brockton has had one of the more interesting resumes. They qualified for the 2022 tournament but lost in the first round. The following year, United lost in its “Win & You’re In” match against Chicago House AC via penalty kicks. That game saw Chicago travel hundreds of miles to Massachusetts and finish the game in near darkness due to a lighting issue. The deep squad has gotten past two Bay State Soccer League teams (FC Omens and CD Faialense) en route to this game.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2023

Vereinigung Erzgebirge (USASA/USL of PA)vs.New Jersey Alliance FC (UPSL)Vereinigung Erzgebirge Clubhouse; Warminster, PA Kickoff: 2 p.m. LIVE VIDEO TBA (Check @USOpenCup for updates)

By Josh Hakala Vereinigung Erzgebirge, a Philadelphia area club that has been playing soccer since the 1960s, is one win away from returning to the tournament for the first time since 2002. They will face the New Jersey Alliance who are trying to qualify for the first time. VE thought they had broken their qualifying drought when they punched their ticket to the 2020 US Open Cup, but the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, they are in second place in the United Soccer Leagues of Pennsylvania with a 4-1-0. They got to the final round with a 3-0 home win over Philadelphia Heritage SC (EPSL) and a penalty kick win over the United German Hungarians, their long-time league rivals. For the New Jersey Alliance, this is the third straight qualifying tournament appearance for the UPSL side. However, this marks the first year that they have reached “Win & You’re In Weekend”. In the last two tournaments, they were one-and-done. This year, they blanked Garden State Soccer League club SC Vistula Garfield 2-0, followed by a 6-0 road win over 4-time Open Cup champion Ukrainian Nationals. In league play, the Alliance enter the weekend in third place in the Northeast-American Division with a 7-3-2 record.

Miami United FC (USSSA/USSL)vs.City Soccer FC (USSSA/USSL)Ted Hendricks Stadium; Hialeah, FL Kickoff: 7 p.m. LIVE VIDEO (YouTube)

By Michael Battista

In possibly a first-ever, two teams that have previously met in the Open Cup proper now clash in the qualifying rounds… technically.

Miami United FC is no stranger to the Open Cup. As an organization it has qualified six times (including the canceled 2020 tournament). Four of those were through national league play, while the team is now trying to qualify via the local route for the second straight year. United has yet to be scored on this fall winning its two games by a combined score of 13-0. It’s the best all-time result in the Open Cup came in 2018 when it reached the fourth round and faced Orlando City SC of Major League Soccer.

If any team has a thorn in its side, Miami is that to City Soccer. The United States Soccer League side qualified for its first Open Cup in 2022 but was knocked out by Miami United (NPSL) in the First Round. Last year in qualifying, Miami eliminated City from a possible return appearance. To reach this repeat grudge match City needed extra time to get past crypto bros Hodler Miami FC in the second qualifying round. A shutout of Parkland Soccer Club last round put them in the “Win & You’re In” match this weekend.

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FC Folsom (UPSL)vs.International San Francisco (USASA/SFSFL)Livermore Community Park; Folsom, CA Kickoff: 8 p.m. LIVE VIDEO TBA (Check @USOpenCup for updates)

By Josh Hakala A pair of Northern California clubs square off on Sunday with the UPSL’s FC Folsom hosting International San Francisco. The home team are seeking to qualify for the Open Cup for the first time, while Inter are trying to return to the tournament for the second year in a row. Both clubs began play in Round 1 of this year’s qualifying tournament. FC Folsom, who are currently in third place in the NorCal North Division (7-2-1), kicked off their inaugural cup run by traveling to Reno, Nevada where they came away with a 3-2 road win. They returned home to take on the club team from the University of Calfornia-Davis, and once again prevailed by a one-goal margin, 2-1. They earned a spot in the final round with a 5-3 home win over fellow UPSL side Valley 559 FC, a club that has won six straight and is currently in first place in the NorCal South Division. Inter SF had to get through a pair of talented league rivals to advance in this year’s qualifying tournament. They began with a 1-0 win over San Francisco Vikings SC, the team that won the regular season title in historic San Francisco Soccer Football League. Then, they knocked off Olympic SC, 4-1. Olympic SC, a club that dates back more than a century, are the reigning playoff champions in the SFSFL and were the top scoring team in the premier division. Inter, meanwhile, finished 11-7-0 in league play, which was good for fourth place. Inter advanced to the final round after traveling to Seattle to take on newcomers Sharktopus FC. They won 4-2 Last year, Inter qualified for the Open Cup for the first time, but lost in their opening match to the NPSL’s El Farolito. After a scoreless 90 minutes, the 1993 US Open Cup champions scored three goals in extra time to advance to Round 2.

Irvine Zeta FC (UPSL)vs.Temecula FC (USASA/NISA Nation)Orange County Great Park (Field 18); Irvine, CA Kickoff: 8 p.m. LIVE VIDEO TBA (Check @USOpenCup for updates)

By Michael Battista

Two SoCal teams looking to make their Open Cup debuts clash on Sunday night.

Irvine Zeta FC has had a gauntlet of qualifying games to reach this final round. A first round derby against UPSL rival Irvine FC was followed up with a 6-0 thrashing of previous Open Cup participant Capo FC. Last round, the side needed sudden death penalty kicks to get past Escondido FC, another team who’s actually played in the tournament, after 120 minutes could not break a 1-1 deadlock. Outside of the competition, Zeta is set to join the third division National Independent Soccer Association next year. Should they win, this would follow in the footsteps of Club de Lyon FC in 2022, who had both a pro and Open Division team in the competition.

Temecula FC has been a long time side in Southern California. After two previous one-and-done attempts at local qualifying (2016, 2023) the team is one win away from finally playing in the Lamar Hunt. With a bye through the first qualifying round, Temecula opened play this fall with a convincing shut out of Murrieta Soccer Academy. Last round, the NISA Nation side downed Santa Monica Surf, 3-1.

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