U.S. Open Cup: Back-to-back “cupsets” sees GPS Omens in 3rd round of the U.S. Open Cup.
The 104th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is underway with a record 99 teams competing for the coveted Sir Thomas Dewar Cup. These teams represent all levels of the game, from the local so-called “pub leagues” to the heights of Major League Soccer. What’s so special about this competition is that it allows amateur dreamers, like Mass Soccer’s GPS Omens, to go up against semi-pros and pros from MLS, USL, NASL, PDL and NPSL. In the a single-elimination format, it’s a matter of win or go home. Although no non-Major League Soccer Club has won the Cup since 1999 when USL’s Rochester Rhinos lifted the Cup, anything is possible. The first tournament was played in 1914, making it the oldest soccer cup competition in the United States. It’s also the country’s oldest annual tournament for team sports.
In Round 1 played on May 10, Bay State Soccer League’s GPS Omens pulled off a 2-0 upset road victory over their semi-pro PDL opponent GPS Portland Phoenix. Two early first half goals in Portland, Maine from Jake Johnson (2') and Ben Shuleva (25') was all that was needed to advance to Round 2. It was just the fifth time in the tournament’s history that an Open Cup game took place in the state of Maine. With the victory, Omens advanced to Round 2 where they faced NPSL’s Boston City FC who were fresh off a dramatic win in penalties that saw four players red carded. Entering the second round, Omens were again labeled “amateur underdogs” but that didn’t stop them from earning another shock win, this time a 2-1 victory at Harry Della Russo Stadium in Revere, MA. Keith Caldwell and Scott Prozeller netted on each side of the break to help propel their team to victory. A late goal from Boston made things interesting but the Mass Soccer amatuers killed off the game and keep their dream alive.
“We have a group tight-knit of great guys and everyone is all about the team and I think that showed tonight,” said goal scorer Keith Caldwell after the match. “Boston City was a great side and we were struggling to keep the ball, so in the second half we played a little more direct to put them under pressure.”
Omens entered the U.S. Open Cup as the reigning BSSL champions after pulling off the first undefeated record in league history (16-0-2). This is the second year in a row where Mass Soccer has had an amateur club advance past the first round of the historic U.S. Open Cup as Southie FC upset Seacoast United Phantoms (PDL) 2-0 in last year's tournament before falling in the second round to USL's Rochester Rhinos. GPS Omens will now face the pros of Rochester on Wednesday, May 31 in New York. The Rhinos punched their third round ticket by beating FC Motown of the Garden State Soccer League by the score of 3-0 on Wednesday. The Rhinos took care of business early, with goals from Sofaine Tergou and Jochen Graf within the first 8 minutes of the game. Rayane Boukemia added a tally in the 85th minute for good measure.
The U.S. Open Cup is contested by clubs from the three professional leagues sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation: Major League Soccer (MLS), the North American Soccer League (NASL) and the United Soccer League (USL), and also by 56 amateur clubs in the earlier rounds of the tournament. The overall champion earns a total of $250,000 in prize money, while the runner-up receives $60,000, and the furthest-advancing team from each lower division league receives $15,000. In addition, the tournament winner qualifies for the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. FC Dallas are the reigning title holders having topped the New England Revolution in last September's final.