CHICAGO – Five teams from the New Jersey and New York were among 89 teams approved for entry into the qualifying rounds for the 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, it was announced Wednesday.
The three Jersey sides were:
* Cedar Stars Academy; Tinton Falls, N.J.
* Clifton Elite FC; Clifton, N.J.
* Jackson Lions FC; Jackson, N.J.
The two New York teams were:
* Lansdowne Yonkers FC; Yonkers, N.Y.
* New York Pancyprian Freedoms^; Queens, N.Y.
CSA Westchester, Lansdowne Yonkers FC and the Pancyprian Freedoms perform in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League.
Nearly all the entrants will see action in the first qualifying round, set for Sept. 21-22, with the matchups to be announced by U.S. Soccer in the final week of August. The history-filled annual tournament, entering its 106th year, is the only high-profile event in American team sports where amateur sides have the opportunity, should they advance far enough, to face professionals in meaningful national competition.
Several amateur clubs with notable pedigrees have thrown their hat into the ring for 2020, including Cal FC, who knocked out the Division I Portland Timbers in extra time in 2012; Christos FC, whose sudden legion of fans helped fill the Maryland SoccerPlex and saw their team briefly go ahead of D.C. United in 2017; three-time Open Cup champion New York Pancyprian Freedoms (1980, 1982 and 1983); NTX Rayados, who in 2018 held that year’s eventual champion Houston Dynamo scoreless for the opening 55 minutes of their fourth round encounter; and the Florida Soccer Soldiers, the Cinderella story of 2019 after coming from behind late in extra time against the Division II Charlotte Independence to prevail in penalty kicks earlier this year.
Open Division Local Qualifying is conducted on a single-game, knockout basis. Matchups are determined geographically to minimize travel time and expense, with random selection used when practicable to determine opponent pairings. Home teams are determined by coin flip. Pairings for the second (Oct. 19-20), third (Nov. 23-24) and, if needed, fourth (Dec. 21-22) qualifying rounds will be determined and announced after each preceding round of games has taken place. The survivors will advance to the First Round of the 2020 Open Cup next spring.
The first round of 2020 local qualifying takes place less than four weeks after the 2019 Final between Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC (Aug. 27 at 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN+), with both clubs playing in their first Open Cup Final in just their third season at the Division I level.
Beyond the amateur teams in local qualifying, Newtown Pride FC (Newtown, Conn.), by virtue of winning the 2019 U.S. Adult Soccer Association National Amateur Cup on Aug. 3, has been awarded a direct slot into the First Round of next year’s Open Cup and will not compete in local qualifying, the second year running where a first round berth has been reserved for the Amateur Cup champion.
In other Open Cup news, both the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and USL League Two (USLL2) have opted to use the Open Division National Leagues track for qualifying. This election allows the two nationwide amateur leagues to use 2019 league results to determine their clubs that advance to the Open Cup First Round in 2020, thus substituting the leagues track for the local qualifying process.
The number of 2020 Open Cup First Round berths awarded to the various Open Division qualifying pools (i.e. local qualifiers, NPSL, USLL2) will be announced at a later date.