The United States Soccer Federation announced the First Round draw for the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The Ocean City Nor’easters will take part in the tournament for the eighth time in franchise history and they will kick off the 104th edition of the competition in front of their home fans.
Junior Lone Star, an amateur club from Philadelphia, will travel to Ocean City to face the Nor’easters at Carey Stadium on Wednesday, May 10. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The Junior Lone Star Football Club has two different senior teams, one that competes in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and another that is part of the Philadelphia Premier Soccer League (PPSL). JLSFC have won the last two PPSL titles, and four of the last six. Despite their impressive league resume, this is the first time that they have qualified for the most prestigious tournament in U.S. Soccer. “It’s a great draw for us to have an opportunity to play in front of our home fans to kick off the US Open Cup,” said Nor’easters Sporting Director Tim Oswald. “We are very proud and honored to be taking part in this historic event once again and are hopeful to add another historic cup run to our resume. What makes this tournament so exciting is that anything can happen in a single-elimination format. You lose and you go home.” The winner of that First Round matchup will earn a date with the Harrisburg City Islanders of the United Soccer League (USL) in Round 2 on May 17. The USL is one of the professional leagues ranked just below Major League Soccer (MLS). If the Nor’easters are able to defeat Junior Lone Star, the game will be hosted at The Beach House in Ocean City. A matchup with the City Islanders would be a rematch from the 2007 US Open Cup when Harrisburg came to Carey Stadium in Round 2 and escaped with a 2-1 victory.
The 104th edition of the US Open Cup will feature a Modern Era record 99 teams, 21 of them from the Premier Development League (PDL). Based on their 9-5-0 regular season record, which ultimately led to Ocean City’s second Eastern Conference championship in the last four years, the Nor’easters were one of the 21 PDL teams selected. Modeled after England’s FA Cup, the US Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament that is the second-oldest continually-operating competition of its kind in the world and has been the national championship for the United States since it launched in 1913. The tournament is open to professional and amateur teams from MLS to Sunday beer league teams and everything in between. The Nor’easters are one of the most successful amateur teams in the country when it comes to the US Open Cup. Only two amateur teams in the country (Michigan Bucks and the Des Moines Menace, both of the PDL) have more Open Cup wins (8) and professional team upsets (5) than Ocean City has as a PDL team. Of those five wins over professional opposition, all of them were shutouts in front of their home fans at Carey Stadium, outscoring the pros by a combined score of 10-0. The first pro upset came in 2005 with a 4-0 win over the Long Island Rough Riders (USL-2). The next two upsets came in 2007 and 2009 against the same team, Crystal Palace Baltimore. They followed up that 2009 win with a second straight stunner, a 1-0 extra time win over the Real Maryland Monarchs (USL-2). That earned them a date with DC United of Major League Soccer. They traveled to Maryland and lost a close 2-0 decision to the defending Open Cup champions. In 2013, the Nor’easters claimed their fifth professional victim with a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, which earned them they advanced to Round 3 again where they had a chance to upset the Philadelphia Union (MLS). In that game, Emmanuel Kollie scored a 90th minute equalizer for Ocean City at PPL Park, but their upset hopes were dashed when the Union scored the game-winner in second half stoppage time. They last qualified in 2014, but lost an opening round game for the first time in club history to the New York Greek American Atlas SC, a club that has won the tournament four times (1967, 1968, 1969, 1974). The Nor’easters will return to the tournament for the first time since 2014, hoping to get back to their winning ways. Tournament Format, Schedule and Other Key Dates:
Initial Pairings Announcement – April 12
First Round – May 10
Second Round – May 17
First Round pairing and be scheduled to play its winner. The remaining First Round matchups not paired with a Division II side will be paired geographically, with the winners playing each other to complete the round.
Third Round – May 31
Fourth Round – June 14*
Round of 16 Draw – June 15
Round of 16 – June 28*
Quarterfinals – July 11^
Semifinals – Aug. 9*
Final – Sept. 20