US Open Cup action continues

The surprise team of the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup joins seven other teams who enter the competition Tuesday night as the second round of the 2004 U.S. Open Cup gets underway around the country. The second round winners advance to play in the third round on June 30.

The Wilmington Hammerheads (PSL) were the Cinderella story of 2003 as they upended the Atlanta Silverbacks (A) and the Dallas Burn (MLS) before bowing out to D.C. United in the quarterfinals with $10,000 in the team’s bank account as the Division III top finisher. Tuesday night they open their 2004 Open Cup campaign hosting the Cocoa Expos (PDL) at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, N.C. at 7:30 p.m. ET. The winner advances to face Charleston Battery (A) on June 30. The Expos are yet to lose a match this year in league or cup play and are coming off a 3-2 overtime victory over Azzurri of Dallas in the first round of the Open Cup.

The Syracuse Salty Dogs and the Virginia Beach Mariners of the A-League will have their work cut our for them in the second round as they face two of the top Premier Development League teams. The Salty Dogs – making their first appearance in the U.S. Open Cup – will travel to face the South Jersey Barons at Winslow High School in Tansboro, N.J. at 6 p.m. ET. Syracuse has a 4-4-2 record in the A-League this year, while South Jersey is 5-0-2.

The Virginia Beach Mariners will host an undermanned DFW Tornadoes side at the Virginia Beach Sports Plex at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Tornadoes will be without PDL leading scorer Lourenzo Andrande de Souza after he picked up a red card in the 3-0 win over Legends FC. Midfielder Jamie Watson will also miss the match as he was called up to the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team for Wednesday’s friendly vs. Brazil. Virginia Beach has struggled with a 2-6-0 record in the A-League, while DFW has a 9-2-0 mark in the PDL.

The third team that remains undefeated in the PDL, the Chicago Fire Reserves, will travel to face the New Hampshire Phantoms (PSL). The Phantoms are making their second consecutive Open Cup appearance and will have to contend with an opponent that has a 9-0 record and +42 goal differential in all competitions – including a 5-1 win over S.A.C. Wisla in the opening round of the Open Cup. The Phantoms are tied for second in the Pro Soccer League with five wins.

In Browns Summit, N.C., the Carolina Dynamo (PDL) will be hosting the Charlotte Eagles (PSL) in an Interstate 85 derby at 7:30 p.m. ET in MacPherson Stadium. The Carolina Dynamo have become regulars in the U.S. Open Cup with four straight appearances, while the Eagles make their first appearance since a 1998 first-round loss. The Dynamo advanced to the second round after eliminating last year’s amateur prize winner, the Milwaukee Bavarians of the United States Adult Soccer Association.

The sole survivor of the USASA regional qualifiers is the Sacramento Knights, who will face the Utah Blitzz at 7:30 p.m. MT at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. That venue, which hosted it’s first U.S. national team match when the U.S. Women played there last June, also saw the Utah Blittz fall 4-0 to the Fresno Fuego (PDL) in the second round last year. The Knights advanced to the second round after a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over the Spokane Shadow (PDL) on June 2.

After a one-year hiatus, the San Diego Gauchos (PSL) return to the second round and look to avoid the 6-1 drubbing that the Minnesota Thunder put on them in 2002. The Gauchos will travel to Pleasant View Field in Boulder, Colo., for a 6 p.m. MT match vs. the Boulder Rapids Reserve. Boulder is fresh off a 2-1 first round win over Open Cup regular Chico Rooks (USASA) and is the top team in the PDL’s Heartland Division with a 8-1-1 record.

Rounding out the matches will be an all-Massachusetts affair between the Cape Cod Crusaders (PDL) and the Western Mass Pioneers (PSL). The Crusaders qualified for the Open Cup as the 2003 PDL Champion and showed why with a 4-1 first round victory over the N.Y. Greek American-Atlas team that included the likes of former MLS star Giovanni Savarese.

The Dallas Burn, Columbus Crew and six A-League teams will face off against the winners of the second round matches. In addition to the two MLS sides, the Atlanta Silverbacks, Charleston Battery, Minnesota Thunder, Portland Timbers, Richmond Kickers and Rochester Raging Rhinos will enter the competition on June 30 from the A-League.

At stake in the tournament is $180,000 in prize money broken down as follows: $100,000 to the champion, $50,000 to the runner up and $10,000 to the team which advances deepest in the tournament from each of the Division II, Division III and amateur levels. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation’s National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. It is the oldest annual team tournament in U.S. sports history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.

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