Tonight marks the primary slew of games in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The first round will comprise all amateur teams, consisting of qualifiers from the USL PDL, NPSL, and Open Division.
In total, 56 teams will play in the first round. The PDL makes up the most of that (21 teams), while the NPSL sends 18 teams and the Open Divisions rounding out the remaining 17. The 28 winners from Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games will move on to the second round on May 16 and 17, which will bring in Division II teams from the USL and NASL.
With that, let’s look at some games to keep an eye on this evening.
This is a game to watch solely based on the two teams’ history in the competition. Last year, Cleveland was one of the most traveled teams in the competition. The Royals started the tournament heading to Portland, Maine, to take on GPS Portland Phoenix before having to trek west to the Gateway City for a matchup against the USL side Saint Louis FC.
This year, the draw again puts Cleveland at a disadvantage, sending the visitors 660 miles one way for the first-round matchup. That said, the reigning NPSL champions could play spoiler to the Menace.
Des Moines qualified for its seventh straight U.S. Open Cup by qualifying for the playoffs. Last year, the Menace picked up its first Cup-set with a 2-0 win over USL side Tulsa for its first win over a higher-division team since 2013 (1-0 at Minnesota United FC). The win against the Roughnecks put Des Moines in the third round for the third time in four years.
The Menace is 14-11 in Open Cup games, and is 9-6 in home Open Cup matches (5-2 vs. amateurs). Cleveland went 1-1 in its first Open Cup appearance last year, beating PDL side Portland Phoenix before losing in Saint Louis.
You can almost predict the Michigan Bucks at some point making headlines this year. The reigning PDL champions have upset MLS teams twice and are 13-13 in Open Cup games. Last year, they were ousted in the first round by intra-state foe Detroit City FC on penalty kicks.
This year, the Bucks are going up against another intra-state debutante of the Open Cup. Ann Arbor FC qualified as one of the playoff teams in the NPSL.
Keep an eye on this one so you can tell your friends you were rooting for (or against) Michigan before it was cool because at some point, we will hear about the Bucks.
The story behind this matchup is interesting, more on one side than anything. Chicago FC United is a new team to the PDL, but not new to soccer. The Chicago Fire U-23 side that fielded the likes of Brad Guzan, Jay DeMerit, Matt Pickens, and more USMNT and MLS-caliber players throughout much of its early career, stepped away from the league after last season. The Fire U-23s placed third in the Heartland Division, behind the Menace and Canadian-side Thunder Bay Chill.
That said, since the MLS’ Chicago Fire decided to go away from the PDL model and instead have more of a Generation Reserves team, the owner of the team, Jay Dorn, put a new PDL team in Chicago. His results from last year with the Fire meant his Chicago FC United team qualified for the U.S. Open Cup without having played a game in its franchise history.
With the history in mind, this is the first appearance in the Open Cup for the team since 2012, when the then-Fire U-23 made it to the second round. In total, Chicago FC United is 7-5 in the Open Cup with a 3-1 mark at home.
Opposite FC United is Grand Rapids FC. The NPSL side is making its first appearance in the Open Cup. It qualified by virtue of finishing atop the Great Lakes West Division standings and making it to the Regional Final before falling at the hands of NPSL Champion AFC Cleveland.
Add Charlotte as another team to watch. The Eagles are no stranger to the Open Cup, making their 14th appearance in the Cup. The height of their success came in 2012, when Charlotte had a cross-country game at Chivas USA. The Eagles actually had the game knotted up heading into stoppage time, courtesy of an 89th-minute equalizer from Mauricio Salles for Charlotte, but the hosts eked out the win in the 90th+4 minute.
Facing Charlotte will be one of the more known NPSL sides in Chattanooga FC. The attendance marks set by supporters have increased yearly and topped out with US Fourth Tier Record of 18,227 in attendance for a regular-season match against New York Cosmos B.
This is the sixth appearance in the Open Cup for the Chattanoogans, and they will be looking to continue their impressive mark in the Cup. In each of the last three tournaments, Chattanooga has made it to the third round before bowing out.
Realistically, this is a matchup of one of the more storied amateur Cup teams against an amateur team with the biggest fan base.
Tuesday: South Florida Surf 4, Red Force FC (Open Division) 2; Tropical Park, Miami, Fla.; South Florida Surf plays Miami FC
Christos FC (Open Divison) vs. Fredericksburg FC (NPSL) 4 p.m., Battleground Stadium, Fredericksburg, Va.; winner plays Richmond Kickers
SC United Bantams (PDL) vs. Atlanta Silverback (NPSL) 4 p.m., Atlanta Silverbacks Park, Atlanta, Ga.; winner plays Charleston Battery
Burlingame Dragons (PDL) vs. El Farolito (Open Division) 5 p.m., Boxer Stadium, San Francisco, Calif.; winner plays San Francisco Deltas
Boston City FC (NPSL) vs. Western Mass Pioneers (PDL) 6 p.m., Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow, Mass.; winner hosts winner of GPS Omens/GPS Portland Phoenix
FC Motown (Open Division) vs. New Jersey Copa FC (NPSL) 6 p.m., Saint John Vianney HS, Holmdel, N.J.; winner plays at Rochester Rhinos
Legacy 76 (NPSL) vs. Carolina Dynamo (PDL) 6 p.m., Macpherson Stadium, Greensboro, N.C.; winner hosts North Carolina FC
Boca Raton FC (PDL) vs. Miami United (NPSL) 6 p.m., Ted Hendrick Stadium, Hialeah, Fla.; winner plays Jacksonville Armada
The Villages SC (PDL) vs. Jacksonville Armada U23s (NPSL) 6 p.m., Patton Park, Jacksonville, Fla.; winner plays at Tampa Bay Rowdies
Junior Lone Star FC (Open Division) vs. Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL) 6:30 p.m., Carey Stadium, Ocean City, N.J.; winner plays Harrisburg City Islanders
Clarkstown SC Eagles (NPSL) vs. Reading United AC (PDL) 6:30 p.m., Exeter Township Senior HS, Reading, Pa.; winner plays New York Cosmos
Tartan Devils Oak Avalon (Open Division) vs. Derby City Rovers (NPSL) 6:30 p.m., Woehrle Athletic Complex, Jeffersonville, Ind.; winner plays Louisville City
GPS Omens (Open Division) vs. GPS Portland Phoenix (PDL) 7 p.m., Memorial Field, Portland, Maine; winner plays at winner of Boston City FC/Western Mass Pioneers
NTX Rayados (Open Division) vs. Dutch Loins FC (NPSL) 7 p.m., Dutch Lions FC Soccer Facility, Conroe, Texas; winner plays San Antonio FC
Azteca FC (Open Division) vs. FC Wichita (NPSL) 7 p.m., Stryker Soccer Complex, Wichita, Kan.; winner plays Saint Louis FC
Oklahoma City U23s (PDL) vs. Tulsa Athletic (NPSL) 7:30 p.m., Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium, Tulsa, Okla.; winner plays Tulsa Roughnecks
Anahuac FC (Open Division) vs. Sonoma County Sol (NPSL) 9 p.m., Casa Grande High School, Petaluma, Calif.; winner plays at Sacramento Republic
Chula Vista FC (Open Division) vs. Albion SC Pros (NPSL) 9 p.m. Mission Bay High School, San Diego, Calif.; winner plays winner of LA Wolves/San Diego Zest
Outbreak SC (Open Division) vs. FC Golden State Force (PDL) 9 p.m., Citrus College, Glendora, Calif.; winner hosts Orange County SC
La Maquina (Open Division) vs. Fresno Fuego (PDL) 9 p.m. Chukchansi Park, Fresno, Calif.; winner hosts Phoenix Rising
Colorado Rush (Open Division) vs. FC Tucson (PDL) 9:30 p.m., Kino North Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.; winner plays Colorado Springs Switchbacks
San Diego Zest (PDL) vs. La Wolves FC (Open Division) 9:30 p.m. Azusa Pacific University Field, Azusa, Calif.; winner plays at Chula Vista FC/Albion SC Pros
Seattle Sounders U23 (PDL) vs. OSA FC (NPSL) 9:30 p.m. Memorial Stadium, Seattle, Wash.; winner hosts Reno 1868 FC