Victory Prepares for Lamar Hunt US Open Cup
SAN FRANCISCO (June 6, 2007) -- San Francisco AC won it in 1976. Fellow-San Franciscans Greek-American AC won it twice, first in 1985 and again in '94 to cap three years of Bay Area domination in the competition.
Yet that was the last time a local team won soccer's prestigious US Open Cup.
The San Francisco Bay Seals came remarkably close in 1997, stunning Major League Soccer's San Jose Clash and Kanas City Wizards along the way before falling to runner-up DC United in the semifinals.
Now the San Francisco-based California Victory looks to add its own legend to US soccer's oldest knock-out competition, now called the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, when it visits the BYU Cougars of the USL Premier Development League Tuesday night in Utah .
It will be the first time the Victory, a brand-new team, has competed in the tournament.
"We are really looking forward to taking part in this competion as the San Francisco Bay Area has, in recent history, done very well," said Victory head coach Glenn Van Straatum. "We want to continue that trend."
The competition, first played in 1914 as the National Challenge Cup, is open to all United States Soccer Federation affiliated teams, from amateur adult club teams all the way up to the top clubs of the MLS.
BYU Cougars are actually a college team, from Utah's Brigham Young University. According to its website, the university purchased a USL-PDL franchise in 2003 to "compete at a level considered higher than NCAA soccer," making the Cougars the one collegiate side eligible for the tournament.
Only one team outside of the MLS has won the trophy since the inception of the league in 1996, and that was fellow-USLers Rochester Raging Rhinos in 199 9 (when the USL First Division was called the A-League). The current holders are Chicago Fire, who last year beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-1.
But it's a long road to the final on Oct. 2: The Victory must win two rounds of qualifiers before having a chance at one of the big MLS teams, who join in at the third round. Winners of the third round compete in the quarterfinals.
The opportunity to play giant killer is what this tournament is all about, said Van Straatum, who already has his sights on a particular third-round opponent.
"Who knows," he said. "Maybe we'll run into Beckham and the Galaxy in the later rounds."
California Victory at BYU Cougars: 7:30 p.m., June 14, Brigham Young University South Stadium, Provo, Utah.
The Victory has two league home games to get through before heading out to Utah: against league-leaders Vancouver on Thursday, June 7, and Minnesota on Saturday, June 9. Both games kick off at 7 p.m. at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Tickets are available at Kezar before the game or by visiting www.californiavictorysoccer.com.
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