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 have more Open Cup wins (8) and professional team upsets (5) than Ocean City has.
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 games as well as Second Round possibilities announced.
First Round – May 10
- Number of Games: 28
- Participants: 56 Open Division teams
- Competition: Teams will be paired geographically with the restriction that teams from the same qualifying pool (e.g. local qualifiers, PDL, NPSL) cannot be paired to play each other.
Second Round – May 17
- Number of Games: 26
- Participants: Winners of 28 First Round games are joined by 24 Division II clubs (6 from NASL, 18 from USL).
- Competition: At the time the First Round pairings are made, each Division II team will be matched geographically to a specific matchup.
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
- Number of Games: 13
- Participants: Winners of 26 Second Round games will play each other.
- Competition: After each Second Round matchup has been determined, the Second Round pairs will be bracketed geographically to create the Third Round matchups.
Fourth Round – June 14*
- Number of Games: 16
- Participants: Winners from 13 Third Round games are joined by 19 MLS clubs.
- Competition: After each Third Round matchup has been determined, 13 of 19 MLS teams will be paired geographically to a specific Third Round matchup and be scheduled to play these winners, while the remaining six MLS teams will be paired up to complete the bracket.
Round of 16 Draw – June 15
- The Fourth Round winners will be divided geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four, with teams who are precluded from playing each other until the Final per tournament regulations (i.e. pro teams and their affiliated Open Division sides) placed in different groups. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, resulting in a fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Should a precluded pair of teams reach the Semifinal Round and be scheduled to face each other, the matches will be re-drawn after the quarterfinals to avoid this outcome.
Round of 16 – June 28*
- Number of Games: 8
- Fourth Round winners face each other as determined by the Round of 16 Draw.
Quarterfinals – July 11^
Semifinals – Aug. 9*
Final – Sept. 20
* Any game in the Fourth Round, Round of 16 and Semifinal Round where one of the participants has a league game the following Friday will be moved up a day (exception to this is when the team’s opponent is scheduled for a league game the preceding Sunday; in this case, the provisions in the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Handbook to determine the match date will prevail). In addition, any game chosen by US Soccer to be broadcast nationally is subject to being moved up a day.
^ For the Quarterfinal Round, teams may apply to change the match date within a window that runs between July 7-16 if both teams in a match are not scheduled otherwise.
Note: The day following each of the dates listed above is reserved as a make-up date in the event of a weather postponement.
2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Participating Teams
Division I and II Professional Teams Eligible to Participate (43 total):
Division I (19 teams, entering in the Fourth Round) – Major League Soccer: Atlanta United FC, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City
Division II (24 teams, entering in the Second Round) – North American Soccer League (6): Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC, New York Cosmos, North Carolina FC (formerly Carolina RailHawks), San Francisco Deltas
United Soccer League (18 teams): Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, FC Cincinnati, Harrisburg City Islanders, Louisville City FC, OKC Energy FC, Orange County SC (formerly Orange County Blues), Phoenix Rising FC (formerly Arizona United), Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Reno 1868 FC, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, Sacramento Republic FC, Saint Louis FC, San Antonio FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tulsa Roughnecks FC
Open Division Teams (56 total, all entering in the First Round):
Local Qualifiers (17 places, listed alphabetically by state): California (6): Chula Vista FC, El Farolito, La Máquina*, LA Wolves FC*, Moreno Valley Fútbol Club, Outbreak FC*; Colorado (2): Azteca FC, Colorado Rush; Florida (2): Boca Raton Football Club*, Red Force FC; Maryland (1): Christos FC; Massachusetts (1): GPS Omens; Nevada (1): Anahuac FC; New Jersey (1): FC Motown; Pennsylvania (2): Junior Lone Star FC, Tartan Devils Oak Avalon; Texas (1): NTX Rayados
Premier Development League (21 places): Division Winners: Charlotte Eagles* (N.C.), Des Moines Menace* (Iowa), FC Tucson* (Ariz.), Fresno Fuego (Calif.), GPS Portland Phoenix* (Maine), Michigan Bucks*, OKC Energy U23 (Okla.), Reading United AC* (Pa.), The Villages SC* (Fla.); At-Large Berths: Burlingame Dragons* (Calif.), Carolina Dynamo* (N.C.), Chicago FC United (formerly Chicago Fire U-23), Derby City Rovers (Ky.), FC Golden State Force (Calif.), Ocean City Nor’easters (N.J.), San Diego Zest (Calif.), SC United Bantams (S.C.), Sounders FC U-23* (Wash.), South Florida Surf, Ventura County Fusion* (Calif.), Western Mass Pioneers.
The PDL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2016 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2017 Open Cup.
National Premier Soccer League (18 places): Qualified via 2016 NPSL playoffs: AFC Cleveland* (Ohio), Albion SC Pros (Calif.), Chattanooga FC* (Tenn.), Clarkstown SC Eagles* (N.Y.), Grand Rapids FC (Mich.), Miami United FC (Fla.), New Jersey Copa FC (N.J.), Sonoma County Sol (Calif.); At-Large Berths: AFC Ann Arbor (Mich.), Atlanta Silverbacks*, Boston City FC (Mass.), Dutch Lions FC (Texas), FC Wichita* (Kan.), Fredericksburg FC* (Va.), Jacksonville Armada U-23 (Fla.), Legacy 76 (Va.), OSA FC (Wash.) Tulsa Athletics (Okla).
The NPSL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2016 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2017 Open Cup.