Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Preview: Four NPSL Squads Compete in Wednesday’s Third Round
Elm City Express will take on the USL’s Charleston Battery in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night at 7:00 P.M., and the club is cherishing the opportunity that lies within their first appearance.
“This is our first opportunity to play in the tournament, and we understand the historic aspect of this event so we are honored to have made it this far,” Elm City Express General Manager Brian Neumeyer said.
Elm City has reached this point in the tournament with a pair of wins over PDL squads, a 2-1 victory over Western Mass Pioneers and a 2-0 defeat of Seacoast United Phantoms. Tony Asante scored both goals in the Express’ first round victory, including the game-winner in the 83rd minute. Winger Shaquille Saunchez stood out for the Express in their second-round match, scoring in the 80th minute of their victory over the Phantoms, and added a late insurance goal as well.
If Elm City can stick around, watch out for some late fireworks, as three of Elm City’s four goals have come in the 80th minute or later.
FC Wichita will look to continue their Cinderella run and end another when they take on North Texas Amateur squad NTX Rayados on Wednesday night.
FC Wichita started their run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against the OKC Energy U-23’s of the PDL, winning 3-1 thanks to two Leo Sosa goals in two minutes and a Benjamin Adoh insurance goal in extra time.
FC Wichita’s second round match-up is arguably the highlight of the tournament so far. Up against the USL’s Tulsa Roughnecks, FC Wichita saw themselves trailing by a goal and down a man in the 50th minute. They went on to equalize on goals after a Jose Nelson Landaverde goal in the 61st minute and they equalized on players after a red card was shown to a Roughnecks player in the 86th. Then, with the game seemingly going to penalties, Franck Tayou came up huge with his second of the night from an impossible angle to shock the Roughnecks and push FC Wichita to the third round.
With their ability to perform and win through seemingly impossible obstacles, don’t count FC Wichita out.
Finally, for just the fourth time ever in the history of the competition, two NPSL squads will face off with one another in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Jacksonville Armada FC will match-up with fellow Floridian and NPSL club Miami United FC on Wednesday night.
Miami United FC reached the third round by defeating FC Kendall and FC Miami 2. Miami United FC reached their third straight second round after a 5-2 stomp of Floridian amateur squad FC Kendall. Miami’s David Ochoa shone the brightest, scoring a hat trick, which included a wonderful 33-yard free kick which scorched its way into the back of the net. Miami United FC then beat fellow Miami and NPSL squad FC Miami 2 with a 3-1 score-line. Ochoa shined again, scoring two goals, including the winner to send United to the third round.
Ochoa, a Colombian and former member of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, has five goals in the U.S. Open Cup so far. With talent like that, Miami United FC are a constant danger in the attack.
Jacksonville Armada FC Club President and General Manager Nathan Walter, however, is confident in his team’s chances. “We are a club with huge ambitions and we want to win,” Walter said, “that means this week, that means next week and the week after. We are creating a winning culture within the club (so) we have to believe we can beat any team in this country.”
Armada FC advanced to the third round via victories over The Villages SC and SIMA Aguilas. Jacksonville recorded a 2-1 victory over PDL side The Villages SC in the play-in round, a 2-0 victory over SIMA Aguilas in the first round, and then inked out a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL.
Armada FC have played more matches than anyone in the tournament so far and will hope their extended experience can give them the edge on Wednesday night.
With four NPSL teams in action, Wednesday night will be a huge moment for the league. One NPSL squad is guaranteed a spot in the fourth round, and Elm City Express and FC Wichita will look to join the winner of Jacksonville Armada FC and Miami United FC in the round where Major League Soccer teams are introduced to the tournament.
Contributor: Daniel Cermak/NPSL.com
Photo Credit: Zack Putnam, Emotions Moments, Eric Turner, and Eld