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Tickets are free as Nor'easters kick off 2017 US Open Cup at home on Wednesday

Ocean City hosts Junior Lone Star FC at the Beach House with winner playing a pro team in Round 2

Tickets are free as Nor'easters kick off 2017 US Open Cup at home on Wednesday

The Ocean City Nor’easters open up their 2017 competitive season on Wednesday, May 10 when they take on the Philadelphia-based Junior Lone Star FC in the 104th edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Carey Stadium and the Nor'easters are proud to announce that tickets to Wednesday's US Open Cup opener are free of charge to all fans. The free tickets are presented by the Friends of the Ocean City Nor'easters Foundation.

The game will be the Nor'easters' eighth time competing in the US Open Cup, a single-elimination, March Madness-style tournament that is open to teams from all levels of American soccer, from Sunday beer league amateur teams to the top clubs in Major League Soccer. This year’s tournament will consist of 99 teams from across the country, including 56 amateur teams.

The Nor'easters have made a name for themselves in the US Open Cup, the second-oldest, continually operating soccer tournament in the world. Ocean City has upset five professional teams and have won eight games in the tournament since joining the Premier Development League (PDL) in 2003. Only two amateur teams in the country (Michigan Bucks, Des Moines Menace) have more upsets and wins than the Nor'easters.

This will be John Thompson's debut as Nor’easters head coach and will look to get the defending PDL Eastern Conference champions off to a good start.

“The game on Wednesday night comes earlier than we would like,” said Thompson, who was a two-time All-PDL selection as a player with Ocean City. “We have a short period of time to get our players in sync as they only began arriving this weekend, so the short prep time isn't ideal. We will have 20 out of the 26 signed players for this game so we will be able to field a strong team.”

The Storm will play a very strong amateur team from Philadelphia in Junior Lone Star FC. The team qualified for the US Open Cup for the first time by winning two qualifying games last fall. The team is mostly made up of West African immigrants, many from Liberia and has been a beacon for the African immigrant community in and around the city. There will be a familiar face on the opposite bench as former Nor’easters midfielder Zoncher Dennis is listed on the JLS roster.

"Junior Lone Star are a tight knit group who train together every day,” Thompson said. “We will be an organized unit with good chemistry.”

The Nor’easters will be looking to begin their season with a good start before the PDL season that will begin on May 19.

“I think we have plenty of quality in our attack to cause them problems and we have depth if we need to try something different,” added Thompson. “The lads are excited to have the opportunity to play in the Open Cup so they are motivated to make a name for themselves in this completion like the 2013 group did.”

The 2013 team Thompson referenced shut out the New York Red Bulls U23s (NPSL) and the USL's Pittsburgh Riverhounds before nearly upsetting the Philadelphia Union of MLS. The Nor'easters scored a 90th minute equalizer at PPL Park, stunning the home crowd, only to see the Union score a game-winner in stoppage time. That's the magic of the US Open Cup. An amateur team like the Nor'easters can be put on the same field as a team from Major League Soccer and anything can happen.

The winner of Wednesday's First Round game will move on to Round 2 to take on a professional team. If the Nor'easters win, they will host the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL on May 19 at the Beach House in Ocean City.

The Nor'easters will open the PDL regular season with a pair of home games against the Evergreen Hammers. The first on Friday, May 19, and the second on Sunday, May 21.

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