The only all-League Two matchup in this round of the Open Cup is a very strong one. The two Florida teams finished tied on points in the Southeast Division a season ago and figure to battle for the division title again this year. In the USOC this year Lakeland is looking for its first win, and first goal, while The Villages are looking to advance to the second round for the first time since 2016, but this should also serve as an early-season marker for battles yet to come this season.
One of the clubs doubling up in the Open Cup are the New York Red Bulls, which sees its League Two U23 side return to the competition for a clash with a familiar foe in FC Motown. NYRBU23 will be hoping to bounce back after last year’s 2-1 defeat to Motown and will be counting on some strong college prospects like Brian Saramago and Jared Gilbey to move onto the second round.
The second club team to double up in the Open Cup comes from Statesboro, Georgia as South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 represents League Two against USL League One’s Chattanooga Red Wolves SC. This will not only be Tormenta 2’s debut in the Open Cup but as a team after Tormenta FC joined League One as its first club last year. The young team can kick off their inaugural season strongly with a good performance behind Campbell University forward, JJ Donnelly as they look to spring an upset against their professional opponents.
It’s a battle for Texas to round out the League Two action in the first round of the Open Cup as Brazos Valley Calvary FC travels to Laredo to take on Laredo Heat SC. The Houston Dynamo’s partner has built a strong base behind UNC Wilmington players, Phillip Goodrum and Mark Lindstrom, who could prove to be a powerful force in this Open Cup matchup as Cavalry FC makes its debut in the historic national competition.
FC Golden State Force have already started off their season in positive fashion with a 3-2 win against Orange County SC U23, but will face a different Orange County as they take on the NPSL side from Irvine. The Force came into the season as one of the better teams in an already strong Southwest Division and have a history of success in the Open Cup, having reached the Fourth Round a season ago before falling to Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy.
The lone Dutch Lions side to qualify for the competition this year after winning the Great Lakes Division last year, the Lions face Midwest-East champions of the NPSL, the Erie Commodores in the first round of the Open Cup. Dayton can look to jump start its season and move on to the second round with the spotlight falling on midfielder Jackson Dietrich from Wright State University as a key player for the visitors in this clash.
A powerhouse in League Two and the Mid Atlantic Division, Reading United AC will look to advance to the Second Round of the Open Cup for an eighth consecutive year when it takes on Philadelphia Lone Star FC. Reading has long been a strong developmental side and can look to continue that with a strong start to their 2019 campaign, with standouts including Kalil El Medkhar from the University of Kentucky and Lamine Conte from the University of Louisville part of this season’s squad.
Young New England-based talent comes up against one of the biggest brands in American soccer as Black Rock FC makes its Open Cup debut against the New York Cosmos B. Having finished top of the Northeast Division a season ago, Black Rock will be looking to cement its competitive reputation as it enters tng to gehe competition led by 2018 All-Eastern Conference selection Ifunanyachi Achara but will face a test from the Cosmos B’s experienced lineup.
Following an undefeated regular season in the Heartland Division a season ago, perennial League Two contender the Des Moines Menace will look to replicate their success and kick off with an Open Cup win over Duluth. They could make their second-round push behind efforts from University of Central Arkansas forward, Niklas Brodacki, and Marquette midfielder, Joshua Coan.