When: April 20th, 7:00 PM ET | How to Watch: Only available on ESPN+ (U.S. Open Cup matches will not be blacked out in our market on ESPN+ and available to all in NC and SC)
The U.S. Open Cup is back for the first time since 2019, just in time for Charlotte FC to participate in it. The Club will make its Open Cup debut against South Carolina USL League One side, the Greenville Triumph.
The Open Cup, founded in 1914, is the country’s oldest ongoing national soccer competition. It’s a tournament that CLTFC coach, Miguel Ramírez is “super excited” for, stating it’s a great opportunity for the team to continue getting experience together while playing for a meaningful trophy.
What’s At Stake?
The Open Cup is an opportunity for teams involved to earn a trophy outside of their league. Not only is a trophy on the line, but the winner of the U.S. Open Cup also is granted a spot in the following year’s CONCACAF Champions League.
“When you get an important reward for the Club, I’m not talking only financially, also to qualify CONCACAF Champions League, so it’s important for the Club to play this competition and to try your best to win it," said Ramírez.
The CCL is the premier continental tournament where teams from North and Central America compete against each other for the title of the best team in the region. While many may view the tournament as secondary, with what is at stake, it is anything but that.
The Triumph hasn't started their USL League One campaign as they would have liked. They are currently sitting in 10th place with one draw and one loss in their first two matches of the season.
However, it’s still far too early into the season to derive any conclusions, but it wasn't long ago when the Triumph was the League One champion in 2020. The talent is certainly there and Ramírez isn’t taking it lightly.
“They have very fast players up front, they are very aggressive attacking spaces. Also, aggressive when they press, when they jump, they go go go. With a lot of repetition, with a lot of desire. So, we will need to play with a high rhythm to face this kind of pressure and kind of jumps. And be super focused, concentrated to be aware.”
The fast forwards that Ramírez is talking about are the Jamaican duo of Venton Evans and Nico Brown, whose speed down the wings is a threat in transition. They are supporting returning striker, Jake Keegan, who scored 14 goals in their 2019 – 2020 championship winning campaign.
At the helm is head coach, John Harkes, who had a successful playing career where the majority was spent in the English Championship with stints in the Premier League and MLS. He brings a wealth of knowledge to his team which he has used to make the Triumph a well-organized side who make it difficult to play against them.
The Open Cup provides a rare opportunity for lower league teams to test their mettle against MLS teams. The Triumph will be coming into this match as motivated as ever and will be looking to create another classic U.S. Open Cup upset.
With the inclusion of the midweek Open Cup match, CLTFC will be playing three away matches in seven days. Ramírez has the tough task ahead of balance rotating the squad while trying to stay competitive in this packed window of matches.
Players who haven't seen much action this season getting significant minutes will be expected. But despite the necessary rotation, both teams will want to progress as far as they in the tournament, which should make for an exciting and historic night of soccer.
How to Watch: ESPN+
When: April 20th, 7:00 PM ET
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