When starting to write this article, I initially set about to mention every single Englishman who was set to be involved in one of the 24 US Open Cup second round matches this Wednesday night/Thursday morning but a quick look has shown me that there are simply too many and not enough information for me to make a comprehensive list so I will detail some highlights instead.
The US Open Cup is America’s answer to the FA Cup, in fact it is over 100 years old which is impressive going considering how many competitions have folded in the US over the years. The first round took place last week and saw clubs from the NPSL, the PDL (both informally fourth tier leagues) and a few local qualifiers. This week’s second round sees teams from the second tier, the USL, enter so some of these cup games mean an awful lot to the lower league sides as this is their only competitive opportunity to test themselves against fully professional teams.
Here’s a rundown of some of the standout games.
Nashville SC (USL) v Inter Nashville (NPSL)
This is Nashville SC’s inaugural season, having been formed in 2016 to begin playing in this year’s USL. Their first ever US Open Cup match sees them take on local rivals Inter Nashville who smashed Charlotte Eagles 6-1 in the first round.
This game caught my eye not just because it is a derby but because Chuka Aruh from London fired home a hat trick in their first round demolition of Charlotte. Aruh, 21, is listed as a defender on the Cumberland University roster from 2014 but that has all changed now.
“This is pretty personal to me and us a team,” Aruh told English Players Abroad. “We definitely want to show that Nashville SC are not the only team in Nashville which deserves recognition.
“I believe that if we come out and perform then there’s no reason why we can’t come out with the result.”
He will be going against another player from England, albeit an Isle of Man native, Liam Doyle. The 25-year-old is in his third season of USL action after coming through the college system and he will be looking to avoid an upset.
Louisville City (USL) v Long Island Rough Riders (PDL)
The Long Island Rough Riders came through an epic nine-goal thriller to book their place in the second round. They defeated Kingston Stockade 6-3 with five goals scored in extra time after the game was tied 2-2 after ninety minutes.
Charlie Ledula scored two of those goals in extra time for Long Island. The Londoner has played college soccer for LIU Post Pioneers and scored a couple of goals in PDL action with Long Island last year.
Also on target in that match for the Rough Riders was Tom Wharf. The 29-year-old from Southport has a long history in the US Open Cup, having scored in the competition in 2012 and 2016 as well.
They will be lining up against Louisville CIty of the USL who can boast a couple of Englishmen themselves. They currently sit third in the Eastern Conference.
Defender Paco Craig is in his third season with Louisville. The 25-year-old from London played for National League North side Bishop’s Stortford in the 2011/12 seson before moving Stateside. He has started all eight USL games so far this season.
Cameron Lancaster in their other Englishman. The striker once appeared for Tottenham in the Premier League and he is in hot form this season with four goals in six games. The 25-year-old scored two goals in the 9-0 thrashing of Tartan Devils in the US Open Cup last season.
Erie Commodores (NPSL) v Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL)
In another NPSL – USL match-up, Erie Commodores who needed penalties to defeat Rochester Lancers in the first round host Pittsburgh Riverhounds at their stadium in Pennsylvania.
Newcastle-born striker Max Aken-Tyers will lead the line for the hosts who have several Englishmen in their squad. The 21-year-old forward picked up a couple of goals and assists in college soccer last year.
The Commodores will have the Riverhounds standing between them and a third round spot and their USL opponents have Joe Holland in their ranks. The 25-year-old midfielder from Birmingham played five games in MLS last season for Houston Dynamo.
Sam Gleadle will be hoping to make his debut as Reno 1868 host Portland Timbers U23s. Will Seymore and Tomi Ameobi‘s FC Cincinnati take on a Detroit City side who had five Englishmen in their NPSL roster last season. Joe Cole‘s Tampa Bay Rowdies travel to former NASL side Jacksonville Armada, who are managed by the Solihull-born coach Mark Lowry and have already won two games to make it to this round. Finally, Callum Ross‘ OKC Energy side will be looking to avoid a massive upset as they travel to local qualifiers NTX Rayados.