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Fuel Soccer Talk: Special U.S. Open Cup Finals Preview

Atlanta United vs. Minnesota United (TONIGHT)

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, crowns its 2019 champion on Tuesday, Aug. 27, when defending Major League Soccer champs Atlanta United host fast-rising Minnesota United, who currently sit one point out of second-place in MLS’ Western Conference standings and have scored a busload of goals in 2019 Cup play. No matter what the result on Tuesday, history will be made in this, the 106th consecutive U.S. Open Cup Final [WATCH 7:45 p.m. ET; ESPN+].

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW – AND THEN SOME

Historically Speaking: First-time finalists meet in finals

US OPEN CUP HISTORY

Minnesota United FC (MLS)
10th US Open Cup appearance (3rd as MLS team)
Overall: 9-7-2 (1-1 PK) | 4-2-1 (1-0 PK) as MLS team
Away: 5-4-2 | 3-2-0 as MLS team
vs. MLS: 4-5-0 | 3-2-0 as MLS team
Best finish: 2018 Fifth Round
(USSF Div. 2 in 2010, NASL from 2011-16)

Atlanta United FC (MLS)
3rd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 6-2-0
Home: 4-1-0
vs. MLS: 2-1-0
Best finish: Fifth Round (2017, 2018)

Atlanta United, who had their US Open Cup runs end in the Round of 16 in each of their first two seasons, have finally broken through to the Final this year. The state of Georgia has never had a team even reach the title game, much less lift the US Open Cup trophy in the 106-year history of the tournament. In fact, United are the first Georgia club to reach the final four in 38 years. Only two teams from the Peach State have reached the Semis: Atlanta Wolves were the first in 1980, followed by Datagraphic in 1981.

Minnesota United made their debut as a club in 2010 in the USSF’s Division 2 league as the NSC Minnesota Stars FC. They were among the teams that joined the new version of the NASL when it launched in 2011. They rebranded as Minnesota Stars FC in 2012 and made their US Open Cup debut where they made a big splash with an upset, on the road, against Real Salt Lake (MLS). After changing their name to Minnesota United in 2013, they would only only two more wins in the following four tournaments before joining MLS in 2017. After being one-and-done against eventual champion Sporting Kansas City in 2017, they would eliminate USL side FC Cincinnati in penalty kicks before falling to last year’s eventual champion, the Houston Dynamo.

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Open Division Local qualifying for 2020 US Open Cup

The 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final is just six days away, but teams are already making arrangements for next year’s tournament.

Today, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) announced the entries for the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2020 US Open Cup.

The federation’s Open Division Local Qualifying tournament will feature 89 entries from across the country and the majority of them will begin play in the competition’s opening round on Sept. 21-22. The draw for the first round will take place on Monday, Aug. 26.

The teams will represent 18 different states and the District of Columbia (21 different state associations) and will feature teams from 26 different leagues. For the fifth year in a row, the most represented league is the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) which entered 33 teams, which is two fewer than the 35 they entered in last year’s competition, and six fewer than the 39 that participated for the 2018 qualifying tournament.

The Open Division Local Qualifying tournament was launched in 2016 as an alternative to holding state and regional qualifying tournaments. Now, all teams from any US Soccer-affiliated leagues just need to register. The competition begins in the fall and all entrants are divided up regionally to minimize travel, with the teams that advance the furthest qualifying for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup which will begin in the spring. The number of teams that will qualify for the tournament, and the number of rounds that will be required, is yet to be determined as it will depend on the number of professional teams that will take part in the 107th edition of the Open Cup next year.

Of the 89 teams, 53 of the teams have competed in the Open Division tournament before, leaving 36 new teams.

LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

Email me at tajacoby@comcast.net