The 2014 U.S. Open Cup is underway! Last week Western Mass Pioneers (PDL) played GPS Massachusetts [the team formerly known as Mass Premier Soccer] (USASA) in a showdown of amateur New England clubs on U.S. Soccer's "Game of the Round" livestream.
Like most PDL teams, Western Mass Pioneers usually relies on college-aged players but the early rounds of the tournament coincide with finals week and other busy times for college students. Because WMP was missing several college-aged players, older guys had to step up to get a result last week. Though it took about an hour for the players to build up chemistry, the Pioneers ran out 4-1 winners at home against GPS Massachusetts.
Brian O'Connell wrote a great recap of that First Round matchup between the two Massachusetts-based amateur clubs for thecup.us which you can read here.
In addition to missing a number of players who were still at college, the First Round of the U.S. Open Cup was WMP's first game of the season. Western Mass's Premier Development League campaign doesn't start until this Friday so the team hasn't had a chance to gel together before playing against a professional squad tonight.
Unfortunately, tonight's match between WMP and the Rochester Rhinos will not be streamed online. The Rhinos are 16-1-1 in their first game of the U.S. Open Cup over the past 18 seasons and the team has never lost to an amateur club in this tournament.
You can expect some fringe players to get more minutes for the Rhinos tonight against Western Mass Pioneers. Club captain Tyler Rosenlund left the game against Orlando City with injury in the first half and midfield ball-winner Lance Rozeboom only lasted 87 minutes. If one (let alone both) of these players is unfit for tonight's game, Alec Sundly should play most of the match in midfield.
In the spirit of sharing goalkeeping duties, Luis Soffner could very easily get the start in the cup tournament tonight. Jossimar Sanchez showed an ability to play in midfield for the Rhinos in Wilmington two weekends ago in addition to his natural full back position.
Recent short-term loanee Donnie Smith has apparently returned to New England.
Of course, the Revolution gets to decide whether any of their loaned played are eligible to play for Rochester tonight. If Sundly, Soffner, or Sanchez feature for the Rhinos against Western Mass Pioneers, they will be cup-tied to Rochester and therefore unable to play for the Revs in later rounds of the tournament.
The team mentioned former Revs draft pick Pierre Omanga in its press release on tonight's game so perhaps he'll see his first action for the Rhinos since signing with the club in March.
If the Rhinos win tonight, they will host the winner of Reading United A.C. (PDL) and Greater Binghamton FC (NPSL) in the Third Round on either May 27 or May 28, respectively.
Tonight's match kicks off at 7:35PM and watch this space for updates.