[PREVIEW]The 2014 edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup -- with a record field of 80 teams -- begins on Wednesday with eight first-round games, all involving amateur teams. Here are three games to follow.
U.S. Open Cup: Schedule
DETROIT CITY FC-RWB ADRIA. The Detroit City FC model is hot, and helping fuel the growth in the NPSL, which has 71 teams in 2014, up from 57 a year ago. Le Rouge was founded by a group of five soccer fanatics intent on building a community team. DCFC averaged 1,800 fans a game in 2013 and almost doubled the number of season-ticket packages for this season as of a month ago. Most of the players hail from local universities. Two went on to sign with MLS clubs in 2014: Adam Bedelland Fabio Pereira.
Founded in 1959 by Croatian immigrants devoted to promoting Croatian culture during the era of Communist Yugoslavia, RWB Adria (named after the Adriatic Sea) is the third oldest club entered in this year's Open Cup after Schwaben AC, another Chicago club founded in 1926, and New York Greek American Atlas, founded in 1941. Adria, whose former players include the late Portuguese star Eusebio, plays in Chicago's National Soccer League, which it currently leads. The 2011 U.S. Amateur Cup champion will be making its fourth appearance in the current version of the Open Cup. Its roster includes players who hail from eight different countries.
Venue:Stevenson High School in Livonia, Mich. (7 p.m. ET)
VENTURA COUNTY FUSION-CD AGUILUCHOS USA. It's one of the traditional powers of the PDL against a relative newcomer from the NPSL. Founded in 2007 and PDL champion in 2009, the Fusion has made the PDL playoffs each of the last five seasons. Its alumni include such current MLS players as Chance Myers, Andy Rose and Eric Avila. Five former Fusion players were drafted into the 2014 SuperDraft, including midfielder JJ Koval, who is starting for the San Jose Earthquakes.
Ventura County beat Southern California's FC Hasental in the first round of the 2013 Open Cup and faces another California NPSL team in the first round in 2014. CD Aguiluchos USA is a Salvadoran version of Chivas USA, modeled after Salvadoran powerhouse Aguila. Its roster includes former La Selecta star Rudis Corrales, who scored against the USA in the 2010 friendly that would be one of the four international games match-fixing charges were centered around. (Twenty Salvadorans, Corrales not among them, received bans ranging from six months to life.) Aguiluchos plays its home games at Raimondi Park, in the industrial section of Oakland.
Venue:Ventura College Sportsplex in Ventura, Mich. (7 p.m. PT)
WESTERN MASS PIONEERS-MASS PREMIER SOCCER.Pro soccer in Western Massachusetts dates back almost 50 years to Ludlow Lusitano of the old ASL. Lusitano Stadium, built in 1918, is one of the oldest soccer stadiums in the United States. The Pioneers entered the USL system in 1998 and were one of the league's top teams at the third division level, winning the D3 Pro League championship in 1999 and finishing second in the USL Second Division in 2005. This is the eighth time that the Pioneers, now members of the PDL, have qualified for the Open Cup. The farthest they have advanced is the third round in 2005 when they lost to the Chicago Fire at Lusitano Stadium.
Mass Premier Soccer beat New York's Lansdowne Bhoys in the USASA Region I semifinals to qualify for the Open Cup. Mass Premier got a break in the preliminary round as it lost to AC Blaugrana, but the Rhode Island club was disqualified for using an ineligible player. In the next round, it crushed Icon FC, 5-0, after the New Jersey USASA champion started the match with only nine players on the field.
Venue:Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass. (7 p.m. ET)