Winner will face either North Carolina FC or Lansdowne Bhoys in Round 3
The Ocean City Nor'easters continue their run in the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Wednesday night when the club heads down to North Carolina for a Second Round matchup with a professional team. Ocean City will face the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League (the league directly below Major League Soccer) at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in Matthews, NC.
Last week, the Nor'easters opened the 105th edition of the tournament with a 3-0 road win over AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL). Williams N'Dah, Simone Raioli and Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier each scored, while Deri Corfe had two assists. Alec Smir made seven saves to preserve the shutout. It was the 10th win in Ocean City's PDL history (11th overall). Only two amateur teams have more wins during the Modern Era (1995-present).
On Monday, the United States Soccer Federation announced the potential matchups for the Third Round of the tournament. Whoever wins between Ocean City and the Charlotte Independence will play the winner of North Carolina FC (USL) and 2017 Amateur Cup champion Lansdowne Bhoys FC from New York City. If the Nor'easters win, they will either head back to North Carolina to play on the road against NCFC on May 22 or they will host Landowne Bhoys FC at Carey Stadium on May 23.
The Charlotte Independence are playing in their fourth season since joining the USL in 2015. They have qualified for the USL playoffs twice in their first three years and have a winning record in their three US Open Cup appearances (5-3-0). In fact, their best tournament run came in their inaugural season when they eliminated the Carolina RailHawks (now North Carolina FC) and the New England Revolution (MLS) before falling to the Chicago Fire (MLS) in the Round of 16.
The Independence feature a familiar face on their roster in former Nor'easters player Mutaya Mwape (Lindsey Wilson / Lusaka, Zambia). Mwape played in Ocean City during the 2016 season where he helped the club win an Eastern Conference championship and a trip to the PDL National Semifinals.
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 105th edition of the US Open Cup started with 97 teams, 20 of them from the PDL. Based on their 9-4-1 regular season record last year, the Nor'easters were among the Top 20 teams in the league and qualified for the 2018 edition of the competition.
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 (10) 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 D.C. 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 (USL), 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 a controversial game-winner in second half stoppage time.
Last year, the Nor'easters defeated Junior Lone Star FC (Philadelphia Premier League) 3-1 before holding the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL) to a scoreless draw in Round 2. Ocean City were eliminated in penalty kicks, their first PK shootout in club history.