For the first time in franchise history, Sockers FC has been selected to participate in U.S. Soccer’s oldest and largest annual event, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The interleague tournament features clubs from every professional league in the nation (Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League, and the United Soccer League), as well as teams from these amateur leagues: the Premier Development League, the National Premier Soccer League, the U.S. Adult Soccer Association, U.S. Club Soccer, and the U.S. Specialty Sports Association.
The 102-year-old tournament will feature 91 teams in 2015, making it the largest field in the event’s “modern era” (defined by U.S. Soccer as 1995-present), and an increase by 11 clubs from last season.
This is the Sockers’ first invitation to the Open Cup, and it was earned by their performance during the 2014 regular season (during which the team recorded the second-highest win total in franchise history).
“We are absolutely thrilled to participate in this year’s Open Cup,” said Jeff VonHolle, Sockers assistant general manager and director of operations. “After the success of last season, receiving this honor is a further acknowledgement that our franchise is continuing to establish a tradition of excellence that is recognized throughout the nation.”
Joining the Sockers in the Open Cup from the PDL will be the division-rival Laredo Heat, who advanced to the fourth round of last year’s tournament, before being eliminated by an MLS club. The Austin Aztex, 2014 champions of the PDL Mid-South division, were also selected for the Open Cup, but they have now joined the USL.
The pairings for the first round will be announced April 8, with the Sockers’ first match on May 13 against, likely, an opponent from the USASA or NPSL. If the team advances, the level of competition will increase each round, culminating with a match versus an MLS squad in the fourth round.
The tournament bracket covers five months and runs concurrently with the Sockers’ regular and postseason PDL schedules. Currently, the PDL National Championship is slated for August 2, with the Open Cup final match on September 29 or 30.
The Sockers are one of four PDL squads making their inaugural appearance in the Open Cup, and the league’s 19 berths are the most granted to any amateur league.
“The Open Cup is a tremendous opportunity for our coaches and players,” VonHolle said. “Our fans know that the PDL is an elite league, and we will proudly represent the league and the Permian Basin this summer.”
2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Selection Breakdown:
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