A piece of America's soccer past is coming to the present forefront next Tuesday when the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will take place at Lehigh's Ulrich Sports Complex.
The Lehigh Valley's National Premier Soccer League club, FC Sonic, will take on the Long Island Rough Riders of the Premier Developmental League on May 15 at 7:05 p.m. in the first round of the competition. The U.S. Open Cup is the oldest national soccer competition in the United States and is a knockout tournament open to all United States Soccer Federation clubs, stemming from amateur adult club teams to all Major League Soccer franchises.
Head coach Dave Weitzman's FC Sonic is generally made up of local college players from schools like Lehigh, Lafayette, DeSales and Muhlenberg to name a few, but he knows an opportunity to compete in this tournament is one that his players will relish.
"There is quite a history of this tournament in Bethlehem, since the Bethlehem Steel club won the tournament a record five-times," said Weitzman. "This isdefinitelythe biggest game I've ever beena apart of. It's a good opportunity for our players to get recognized as well, since scouts from professional clubs see these games and it gives our guys a chance to possibly sign a professional contract."
The tournament started in 1914 when it was called the National Challenge Cup and saw Bethlehem Steel win it 1915, 1916, 1918, 1919 and 1926. Currently, the The Seattle Sounders of MLS have won the tournament three straight years, knocking off the Chicago Fire of MLS last year 2-1 in front of a capacity of crowd of 35,612 in Seattle.
This means that FC Sonic could potentially go on a run where they could possibly play against an MLS franchise should they win their bout with Long Island and their second round contest against the Harrisburg City Islanders in round two on May 22. The third round of the competition would then include MLS franchises on May 29.
This is the first year of the tournament that all MLS franchises will be in the tournament.
"We have some really talented players and I don't think we're far off from being able to compete in a professional style of play," said Weitzman. "It's just a great opportunity to raise the profile of the game in the Lehigh Valley and it's very exciting for the club."
Pleasant Valley High School graduate Malik Krcic, the 2010 TIMES NEWS Boys Soccer Player of the Year, and Northwestern High School graduate Steve Krause, the 2008 TIMES NEWS Boys Soccer Player of the Year, are both on the FC Sonic roster.