Professional soccer has a long history of ups and downs in the United States. There has been one constant in the U.S., the Open Cup. The first Open Cup competition was held in 1914 and has been held every year since. This makes the tournament not only the oldest cup competition for soccer in the United States but also the country’s oldest annual tournament for team sports.
In its current form, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, as it’s formally called, is a single-elimination tournament comprised of 80 teams. What makes this tournament unique is that teams come from all levels. Tune into the Open Cup and you might find an MLS team with a budget exceeding $22 million facing a team that plays on the similar field as your son/daughter and whose star striker bears a striking resemblance to your bartender at Sticky Rice.
Amateur teams are usually weeded out in the early rounds but nearly every year one or two make a push deep into the tournament. Last year Christo’s FC was the Cinderella of the Open Cup Ball. Christo’s FC defeated the Richmond Kickers along the way much to the embarrassment of the local supporters.
As you’d expect the MLS has dominated this tournament in recent history. No lower division team has won since the Rochester Rhinos in 1999. The Rhinos managed to beat four MLS teams to claim the prize. The Charleston Battery managed to get into the final in 2008 but lost to semi-local D.C. United.
The Richmond Kickers own a bit of Open Cup history as well. In 1995, a year before MLS formed, the Kickers an amateur team went on an amazing run and captured the Open Cup. They are the last amateur team to achieve that feat.
USSoccer.com has an excellent article on the run titled OPEN CUP REWIND: ’95 KICKERS – ‘LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE’. If you’re at all familiar with MLS and/or the current Kickers team you’ll recognize a few names including current Kickers’ coach Leigh Cowlishaw. Even if you don’t follow soccer you’ll recognize the last name of striker Rob Ukrop.
Chemistry was fostered off the field as well as on. After all, these were young men in the prime of their lives. They were out of school and away from home for the first time. “We all lived together in the same apartment complex – the whole team – and we had a lot of fun that year,” said Causey, a future MLS goalkeeper who was given the nickname Tex by Bruce Arena during his UVA days. “We all knew each other, either as teammates or opponents,” added Williams. “We had a lot of fun hanging around the pool in the complex where we all lived.”
Ukrop doesn’t remember the nightlife getting in the way of their play. “We’d go to dinner, go to the bars, go dancing,” he said. “But when it was time to play, we were all business.”
On the field, the 1995 Kickers were indomitable. They won the USISL Premier League (today’s Premier Development League – PDL), edging Florida-based Cocoa Expos in the League Final. As momentum began to pick up, talk of a ‘Double’ began to seep into training and among the boys out by the pool. “We knew it would be a challenge to win two titles,” Williams said. “But we wanted to win trophies and everything that was out there to be had.” And those Kickers also had a little chip on their shoulder, according to Causey: “We knew we’d be mixing in with the pro players from the A-League in the Open Cup and we were excited to take on the big guys. We wanted to show them up.”
This is what makes the Open Cup worthy of your attention. It’s a tournament in which a group of guys hanging out at the pool can take on the pros and win. In the 2nd Round of a total of seven amateur teams pulled off upsets. Only one of those upsets was on the East Coast where Ocean City defeated Charlotte Independence 3-1. There are still a few East Coast amateur teams in the mix but they haven’t face any pro opponents yet.
It’s also worth noting that the Kickers made another strong run in 2011 and knocked off two MLS sides, the Columbus Crew in the third round, and Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals. Both those games were on the road which makes the wins all the more impressive.
On Wednesday the Richmond Kickers which play in the United Soccer League (USL) will take on USL rival Penn FC. The Kickers got to this point by barely beating amateur team Reading United in penalty kicks. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.
A more complete preview will be up on the site tomorrow.
If you’d like to learn more about the US Open Cup and follow along in future rounds head to the US Soccer website.
Preview: Kickers vs Tuscon
Fresh off last week’s win, the Kickers are home again, this time to face Tuscon
Opponent: Tucson FC (1, 2, 0)
Date/Time: Saturday, Aug. 15th, – 6:30 PM
Last Result: Kickers 1 – Madison 0
Weather Forecast from Weatherbug.com
Three Things to Kick About
- Akira – You can’t hold onto a 1 goal lead for nearly 80″ without an excellent goalkeeper. The Kickers are very fortunate that they have an excellent goalkeeper. That being said it is considerably less stressful for all those involved if it wasn’t just a one goal lead.
- Weather – Rain delay. Expect it, love it, live it.
- Terzaghi – Last game he sniped the game-winner last game. It just the beginning of the season but it starting to look like the Kickers have much more goal-scoring bite this year.
Tuscon lost their home opener last weekend to brand new team Omaha. The Kickers even though it was only a one-goal win are riding high and didn’t have to travel. The rain could make it a bit dicey for both sides but we’re confident in the Kickers.
Kickers 2 – Tucson 0
Official Kickers Match Preview
Defender Scott Thomsen (#3) came to the rescue for Richmond Saturday night against Madison. Deep into stoppage time, the UVA product was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball off the line to preserve the clean sheet and first win of the season for the Kickers. Defender Ian Antley (#2) notched his first professional assist on Emailiano Terzaghi’s game winner over Madison, earning him a spot in the USL League One Team of the Week. Antley has played every minute of the first three matches for Richmond this season after signing his first pro deal in the off season. Midfielder Ryley Kraft (#98) has also played every minute this season, completing 77.8 percent of his passes in Saturday’s win. The U.S. youth international is in his first full season with Richmond after joining the club in the midst of the 2019 season.
Midfielder Erik Virgen (#23) scored the only goal for Tucson in their loss to Omaha last Saturday. He is in his second season with Tucson after a goal and an assist in 16 matches last year. Defender Niall Logue (#20) completed the most passes (65) for Tucson in their last match, with a successful pass percentage of 85.5. The Northern Irishman joined Tucson after a stint with Finn Harps of the Premier Division of the League of Ireland. Forward Azaad Liadi (#9) has a goal and an assist through the first three matches for the Arizona based club. Liadi is in his first professional season after finishing off his collegiate career at Georgia Southern University, scoring three goals in 16 matches for the Eagles.
Photos and Game Summary: Kickers Win Home Opener
Kickers get their first win in the 2020 USL 1 season.
The Kickers took an early one-goal lead and had a strong first half. The second half saw Madison press hard. The last few minutes were nail-biting with several scrambles in front of the Richmond goal but in the end, the home team prevailed and kept their one-goal leading shutting out the visitors. Full Recap after the photos.
Official Kickers Summary
The Richmond Kickers (1-1-1) picked up their first victory of the 2020 USL League One season Saturday night at City Stadium, behind a 1-0 win over Forward Madison FC (0-2-1). Emiliano Terzaghi scored his second goal of the season, coupled with Akira Fitzgerald picking up his second straight shutout to lead the team to the three points.
Richmond jumped out in front after nine minutes. Kyle Venter sent the ball out wide on the right wing for Ian Antley. He found Emiliano Terzaghi at the top of the Madison box. The Argentine turned and took a touch for space and launched a shot across the face of goal and into the back of the net for the early lead.
Akira Fitzgerald kept Madison off the board in the 33rd minute. Coming out of the hydration break, Christian Diaz floated the ball over the top for Jamael Cox making a run up the left flank. Fitzgerald came off his line as Cox tried to slide his shot under the keeper, but the veteran stopper got a foot on the ball to parry it away.
Deep into first half stoppage, Cox had a chance to level the score. Diaz tried to square a pass to JC Banks, but the midfielder lost his footing and the ball rolled into space. Cox got the ball first and looked for goal as his shot sailed harmlessly over the net.
Luke Pavone, making his first start of the season, nearly doubled the Richmond lead in the 54th minute. Fitzgerald got the play started clearing the ball up field. Pavone headed the ball down for Ryley Kraft, who quickly got it to the feet of Terzaghi. He did not waste a second lofting the ball over the top for Pavone getting in behind the backline.
Scott Thomsen made a last ditch save off the line to preserve the shutout for Richmond. JC Banks served in a corner kick. Akira Fitzgerald came off his line to punch the ball away, but it fell for former Kickers midfielder Brandon Eaton. He wasted no time trying to find the equalizer. Thomsen got a foot on the shot to save the clean sheet, marking the second one in a row for Richmond.
The Kickers conclude their two match homestand next Saturday night as FC Tucson comes to City Stadium for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. Tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com/Tickets.
|TEAM||FIRST HALF||SECOND HALF||FINAL|
Madison GK Philipp Marceta, Christian Diaz (81’ – Eli Lockaby), Conor Tobin, Josiah Trimmingham (81’ – Eric Leonard), Jiro Barriga Toyama (86’ – Gustavo Fernandes), JC Banks, Allan Rodriguez (62’ – Brandon Eaton), Don Smart, Paulo Jr, Jamael Cox (62’ – Alex Monis), Wojciech Wojcik
Unused Substitutes: Chris Brady, Louis Bennett
|9′||RIC||Emiliano Terzaghi (Ian Antley)|
Assistant Referees: Meghan Mullen, Andrew Charron
Fourth Official: JC Griggs
Weather: Mostly Sunny, 81 ºF
Kickers Home Opener Postponed Due to Covid-19 Concerns with Visiting Team
Sad news for soccer fans but good news that nobody on the Kickers organization has tested positive for Covid-19.
I can’t express how much I’m disappointed by this news. It is matched by how little I’m surprised by this news. Teams sport traveling around the country during a pandemic is looking more and more like a bad idea. This will be the second game that the Kickers have had to postpone. So far of the four games the Kickers had scheduled two have had to be postponed.
The Richmond Kickers Home Opener, scheduled for Saturday, August 1 at 6:00 p.m. has been postponed.The decision to postpone the match was made out of an abundance of caution following a positive COVID-19 test from a covered person of the Fort Lauderdale CF organization.A new date for the match will be announced at a later date. Tickets purchased for this match can be exchanged for any future 2020 regular season Richmond Kickers match, based on availability. A Richmond Kickers representative will be in contact with all August 1 ticket holders shortly.