It’s the most wonderful of time of the year. The U.S. Open Cup has officially begun, and even though the Fire won’t enter until the fourth round, there are plenty of juicy story lines to take a look at. Let’s take a tour of 2,700 miles of chaotic semi-pro soccer.
Silverbacks shine as NPSL side
The Atlanta Silverbacks defeated PDL opponent SC United Bantams of South Carolina 4-1 on Wednesday night. In there second season as an NPSL side, it is clear that the former NASL team wants to prove they are still relevant in the Atlanta soccer scene. They certainly have a chip on their shoulder, given Atlanta United’s early success in MLS, and will be looking to stir the pot in the Cup this season.
They took advantage of their chances early, scoring in just the 4th minute when Abraham Lansana finished off a complete team goal. Belize international Deon MacCauley doubled the lead on a rebound in the 20th minute on a rebound, and the NPSL team took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
Things got a little dicey for Eric Wynalda’s former team, though, when Bantams’ Leandro Brown made it 3-1 from the spot in the 79th minute. However, the PDL side’s comeback was short lived, as just two minutes later, Thomas Hunter restored the three goal advantage, making it 4-1.
The Silverbacks will welcome the Charleston Battery of the USL to their home ground in the second round. - Jack Kelly
Rained out in Illinois
Inclement weather has forced the U.S. Open Cup match between Chicago FC United and Grand Rapids FC to be postponed. The match, which began under a slight drizzle, was shortly greeted with sheets of rain. Just 2 minutes and 43 seconds into the game, the alarm sounded, meaning there was a lightning sighting.
Neither side had a chance to settle into the game at the time it was stopped; there was a foul or two, but no shots on goal were registered before the delay and eventual postponement. Grand Rapids FC had a good amount of supporters make the trek down for their first ever appearance in the U.S. Open Cup. Chicago FC United, making their return to the Cup for the first time since 2012, are looking forward to improving on their seven all-time wins in the Cup.
The lacrosse season has just ended for Wheaton, meaning the field could be a possible location for the makeup game, which will take place Friday. Evanston, the originally intended location for the match, is still an option at this time. It appears both teams prefer a midday kickoff, although the official time has still not been decided. The winner of the makeup game will host the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on May 17th. - Alex Picchietti
Definitely not a mistake on the lake
AFC Cleveland traveled to take on PDL powerhouse Des Moines Menace in the first round of the Cup on Wednesday. And boy, they are a force to be reckoned with this season .
After crashing out to the USL’s St. Louis in the second round last season, the boys from Ohio are clearly looking to play MLS competition this season. In what proved to be a hectic second-half, AFC Cleveland’s class helped them pull away from the Menace. However, both sides left it late. AFC struck in the 75th minute to give them the initial advantage when Admir Suljevic converted from the penalty spot. The Menace did not go down without a fight, though, as they equalized in the 82nd minute.
The home team’s charge was short lived, as AFC Cleveland converted in the 87th and 91st minutes, leaving them with a match against Ohio-rivals FC Cincinnati of the USL. - Jack Kelly
Party canceled in Tulsa
After missing out on last year’s U.S. Open Cup, Tulsa Athletic of the NPSL were looking to show the Oklahoma soccer-scene why they shouldn’t be considered the little brother’s of Roughnecks FC. They failed to do so.
The NPSL team welcome the Oklahoma City Energy’’s U23 squad, who play in the PDL. And the Oklahoma derby did not disappoint. The Energy scored in the 44th minute on an effort from Matthew Puig, and took a 1-nil lead into the break. However, the hosts would not go down without a fight. Tulsa pushed the issue in the second half, controlling the majority of the play, and they got their equalizer in the 80th minute when Declan Fitzpatrick finished with a depth header.
The game, which eventually progressed through the extra time periods, finished in a shootout. OKC’s Eric Dick saved the first two efforts from Tulsa, and the U23 side ended up leaving with a 4-2 penalty shootout victory.
The Energy will play Chicago Fire USL affiliate Tulsa Roughnecks FC on May 17. - Jack Kelly
Eric Wynalda’s latest team wins in dominant fashion
Eric Wynalda recently took over as head coach for the NPSL side L.A. Wolves. Whatever he is doing, it’s working.
The Wolves opened the scoring in the 36th minute, when Chuck Pitts tucked home a well-worked team goal. The advantage was doubled by Miguel Sanchez just before the clock struck an hour, and L.A. got a third in the 62nd minute. Their opponents, San Diego Zest of the PDL, got one back in 70th minute from substitute Joseph Fortini. L.A. returned their three goal advantage, though, when Paolo Cardozo’s individual effort led to an own goal. San Diego got a consolation penalty in the 86th minute, which was converted to make in 4-2 , but L.A. never really looked threatened.
The Wolves will take on Chula Vista FC in the second round, in what will be a highly competitive match. - Jack Kelly