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Missing March Madness? The U.S. Open Cup Is Ready To Fill Your Bracket Needs

The 106th U.S. Open Cup will kick off next week with 84 teams from MLS to the amateur ranks dreaming of lifting the trophy. Last week we looked at where the participants this year are coming from and the announcement that the entire tournament will be available on ESPN+. On Wednesday, the first 38 clubs to enter the competition found out their opening-round draw. 

The first round will take place next month with matches on May 7 and 8. The eight local qualifiers, 14 NPSL representatives, 10 USL League Two clubs and the four USL League One nonaffiliated clubs were drawn into pairs based on their geographic location. While this loses some of the excitement and randomness of the FA Cup draws, basing it on region offers clubs the chance to face an in-state or local rival that might be in a different league. 

Here is a look at the pairings by region. The first team listed is the host, all times are in ET and the club's league or state they are representing as the amateur winner is in parenthesis. 

US Open Cup Draw 2019

Southeast Region

  • May 7 — Lakeland Tropics (USLL2) vs. The Villages SC (USLL2), 7 p.m. 
  • May 7 — South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (USLL2) vs. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (USLL1), 8 p.m.
  • May 8 —  Greenville Triumph SC (USLL1) vs. South Georgia Tormenta FC (USLL1), 7 p.m.
  • May 8 — Miami FC (NPSL) vs. Florida Soccer Soldiers (Fla.), 7 p.m.

The standout match from the Southeast is USL League One rivals Greenville hosting Tormenta FC. The two have already clashed in the inaugural league match, with Tormenta winning 1-0. 

Northeast Region

  • May 7 — FC Baltimore (NPSL) vs. West Chester Predators (Pa.), 7 p.m. 
  • May 7 — Richmond Kickers (USLL1) vs. Virginia United (Va.), 7 p.m. 
  • May 7 — New York Cosmos B (NPSL) vs. Black Rock FC (USLL2), 7:30 p.m. 
  • May 7 — New York Red Bulls U23 (USLL2) vs. FC Motown (NPSL), 7:30 p.m. 
  • May 8 — Erie Commodores FC (NPSL) vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USLL2), 7 p.m.
  • May 8 — Lansing Ignite FC (USLL1) vs. AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL), 7 p.m.
  • May 8 — Reading United AC (USLL2) vs. Philadelphia Lone Star FC (NPSL), 7 p.m.

The Richmond Kickers are the second-most recent non-MLS club to win the Cup, back in 1995 (Rochester Rhinos won in 1999). They will host the local qualifiers out of the state Virginia United. 

Central Region

  • May 7 — Bavarian SC (Wis.) vs. Forward Madison FC (USLL1), 8:30 p.m.
  • May 8 — Little Rock Rangers (NPSL) vs. NTX Rayados (Texas), 8 p.m.
  • May 8 — Des Moines Menace (USLL2) vs. Duluth FC (NPSL) ,8:30 p.m.
  • May 8 — Midland-Odessa Sockers FC (NPSL) vs. FC Denver (Colo.), 8:30 p.m.
  • May 8 — Laredo Heat SC (NPSL) vs. Brazos Valley Cavalry FC (USLL2), 9:15 p.m.

Last season NPSL club Midland-Odessa Sockers FC and Colorado's local qualifier FC Denver won their opening round matches. While both Bavarian SC and Forward Madison are new the Cup this year. 

West Region

  • May 7 — Academica SC (Calif.) vs. El Farolito (NPSL), 10:30 p.m.
  • May 7 — Cal FC (Calif.) vs. FC Mulhouse Portland (NPSL), 10:30 p.m.
  • May 7 — Orange County FC (NPSL) vs. FC Golden State Force (USLL2), 10:30 p.m.

In 2018, FC Golden State Force progressed to the fourth round after beating the Las Vegas Lights (USL) before falling to the LA Galaxy in the final 32. Can they repeat as one of the Cup darlings?

Round 2 will see 25 clubs from the USL Championship enter, 19 of those taking on the 19 winners from Round 1, with the rest pairing off against each other. The draw for the USL Championship teams vs. Round 1 winners will take place on April 17 and again be based on location to limit travel. 

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