Tropics to Face NPSL's Midland-Odessa FC Sockers in First Round of US Open Cup

by Andrew Ross

LAKELAND, Fla. – The Lakeland Tropics will be on the road to start this year's 2018 U.S. Open Cup run, starting with a first-round game Wednesday, May 9th against the Midland-Odessa FC (Texas) Sockers of the National Premier Soccer League. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. EST at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland Texas

Midland was the NPSL runner up this past season, winning their conference before advancing to the semi and eventually finals of the league. The NPSL is also considered the 4th tier of the US Soccer landscape, equal to the PDL. The Sockers have history in the PDL, winning the southern conference and advancing to the semi finals in 2016, before making the jump to the NPSL. The franchise has been in existence since 2008. 

“While we we were hoping to have a home game for our great fans, we are still thrilled to be invited to play in such a prestigious event, and we're confident our side will be fully prepared and ready to represent Lakeland and Polk County with pride and passion,” Tropics CEO Dr. Panos Iakovidis said.

The Tropics, who qualified for the tournament after only its first season in the USL Premier Development League last year, had applied to host a first round game, but U.S. Soccer Federation officials found Bryant Stadium's field did not meet the organizations minimum standards for size. 

The first round will commence after a three-game play-in round May 5-6, which was added to accommodate the Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC 2 and New York Cosmos B. The first round will consist of one match on May 8th followed by 25 others played May 9th, featuring teams from the Premier Development League (PDL), National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), and Open Division local qualifiers in head-to-head, single-elimination competition.

The second round follows on May 16th and introduces 22 Division II professional clubs from the United Soccer League (USL). Due to the time that was required for arranging the Play-In Round, the announcement of the possible Second Round matchups will now take place on April 11th.

Sporting Kansas City is the defending U.S. Open Cup champion, having earned the club’s fourth tournament title thanks to a 2-1 victory against New York Red Bulls on Sept. 20, 2017, at a sold-out Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup™, recognized as U.S. Soccer's National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 104 consecutive years dating from 1914. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.