As I did much of last year, I was excited to be invited back to Soccer House, headquarters of the U.S. Soccer Federation, for Thursday’s third round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw.
I was joined on Prairie Street by Indy Eleven President Peter Wilt, who was there to witness his club’s first Open Cup coin flip.
If you read some of my Open Cup draw articles last year, you might have seen a very complicated process which involved bigger groupings of geographical possibilities, numbering pieces of paper and drawing from envelopes before any coins were flipped.
None of that was the case on Thursday as Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller was able to fit all potential third round matchups in to "logical geographic pairings" so only coin flips needed to take place.
For the Open Cup nerds out there, this may disappoint you and if you'd rather go no further, I suggest you just read U.S. Soccer's official release on the potential third round pairings. If you would still like to know some of the interesting intricacies of the day's happenings, keep reading:
- Five lower-league professional sides did not apply to host third round matches: USL PRO's Harrisburg City Islanders, Orange County Blues, Arizona United SC, Oklahoma City Energy FC and NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks.
- As they did last year, USL PRO's Dayton Dutch Lions did apply to host but their field does not meet U.S. Soccer's competition requirements (a common theme here). Their second round opponent, North Chicago side Schwaben AC also applied to host but their venue does not meet requirements as well.
- Why would both clubs apply to host if they didn't meet requirements? While it's unlikely it would happen, supposing the opponent that pair was matched up with also didn't meet field or venue requirements or didn't apply to host, U.S. Soccer could then award hosting rights to either club. In the case of Dayton/Schwaben, because Indy Eleven applied to host and their home venue meets requirements, a coin flip did not occur for this matchup.
- Another interesting example of this was on the last flip of the round in the matchup of Cal FC / LA Galaxy II and PSA Elite / San Diego Flash. Of the four teams, only LA Galaxy II's venue met requirements, while both PSA Elite and San Diego Flash applied to host although neither team's field met requirements. So in the case that Cal FC won, the winner of the PSA Elite / San Diego Flash match would host a third round match up by default.
With USL PRO's Charleston Battery having the only suitable host venue in their potential match up (they play the PDL's Panama City Pirates in Round 2), they automatically were rewarded hosting rights should they advance to a third round matchup against the winner of Jacksonville United FC / Orlando City U23s. Jacksonville United did apply to host but their home venue was deemed not to fit stadium requirements. However, should Charleston lose and Jacksonville win, the NPSL side would host Panama City in the third round. Should both Panama City and Orlando City win, because neither applied for hosting rights, U.S. Soccer would quickly quoroum with both clubs to figured out a host for a third round match.
- USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads applied to host but their field was also deemed unsuitable. Paired with NPSL's Chattanooga FC in the second round, should Wilmington win, they would host by default as Atlanta Silverbacks did not apply to do so.
- Because of some of these differing scenarios, coin flips did not occur as matchups defaulted to a suitable host team.
Complete Third Round U.S. Open Cup Grid (as I saw it today).
BOLD: Applied to host; Venue meets requirements
ITALICS: Applied to host, Field width doesn't meet requirements
BOLD ITALICS: Applied to host; Venue doesn't meet requirements
N/A - Matchups where coin flips did not occur because of hosting defaults
|Greater Binghamton Thunder (NPSL)/Reading United (PDL)||W. Mass. Pioneers (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)||X|
|Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)/Jersey Express (PDL)||New York Cosmos (NASL)||X|
|NY Greek Americans (USASA)/Ocean City Nor'easters (PDL)||X||Richmond Kickers (USLP)/RVA FC (NPSL)|
|Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Lehigh Valley Utd. (NPSL)||X||Icon FC (USASA)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL)|
|NY Red Bulls U-23 (NPSL)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP)||X||RWB Adria (USASA)/Michigan Bucks (PDL)|
|Carolina Dynamo (PDL)/Charlotte Eagles (USLP)||Carolina Railhawks (NASL)||X|
|Wilmington Hammerheads (USLP)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)||N/A||Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)|
|Jacksonville United (NPSL)/Orlando City U23s (PDL)||Panama City Pirates (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)||N/A|
|Ocala Stampede (PDL)/Orlando City (USLP)||x||Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)|
|Red Force (USASA)/Laredo Heat (PDL)||Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL)||X|
|Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Schwaben AC (USASA)||Indy Eleven (NASL)||N/A|
|NTX Rayados (USASA)/Austin Aztex (PDL)||San Antonio Scorpions (NASL)||N/A|
|Real Colorado Foxes (PDL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA)||X||Minnesota United SC (NASL)|
|Oklahoma City Energy (USLP)/Tulsa Athletics (NPSL)||Arizona United SC (USLP)/Portland Timbers U23 (PDL)||X|
|Orange County Blues (USLP)/Fresno Fuego (PDL)||Sacramento Republic (USLP)/Ventura County Fusion (PDL)||X|
|Cal FC (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USL Pro)||N/A||PSA Elite (USASA)/San Diego Flash (NPSL)|
Thank you again to U.S. Soccer for allowing me to play witness to the draw once again. Chicago-Fire.com plans to bring coverage of the fourth round draw procedure when it occurs next week.