Orlando City U23s Kickoff Season With US Open Cup Tuesday, May 14
2012 PDL Southern Conference Champs play VSI Tampa Bay at Seminole Soccer Complex
The 2012 PDL Southern Conference Champion Orlando City U23s kickoff the 2013 season in the 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Tuesday, May 14th at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Sanford, Fla. The U23s will face USL PRO side VSI Tampa Bay FC in the first round of the knockout tournament after winning the Southern Conference title in the 2012 season.
“We are excited to play our opening game this season against VSI,” said Head Coach Paul Shaw. “They are a tough and organized team but we will be ready.”
The U23s are a key component of the Orlando City developmental structure and will employ the same system as the pro side, providing familiarity for players who receive a call up from Head Coach Adrian Heath. First team players Adama Mbengue and Jonathan Mendoza were the first two to receive the nod from Heath, and Shaw has made it clear that his main focus is continuing to develop players while also building upon the success generated from last year’s Final Four run. The U23s fell short, 2-1, to the Carolina Dynamo in last year’s semi-finals, but marked their first appearance in the Final Four since the 2004 season.
The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States and is open to United States Soccer Federation (USSF) affiliated teams. The Open Cup was first held in 1913, with this year marking the centennial edition of the tournament. This year’s field is made up of 68 teams, with the event beginning on May 7 with a play-in round consisting of teams from lower-level leagues around the country.
Squaring up against a USL PRO team this early in the season side will certainly align with Shaw’s views, as it will provide valuable experience for the Lions heading into their first regular season match against IMG Bradenton Academics on May 19 at Seminole Soccer Complex. Representing the U23s this year are top players from universities throughout the United States, such as Clemson, Georgetown and the College of Charleston. Striker Nicolas Russo will also join the U23s this season after spending a sufficient amount of time in training with the first team.
The match against VSI will kick off at 7 p.m. and tickets will be sold for $8 for adults and $5 for kids. Similar to the pro side, the TPASS grants access into all regular season home games, but is not valid for Open Cup matches.
The pro team will enter the tournament in the second round of play on Tuesday, May 21st. The opponent and venue of the game will be determined in the upcoming weeks. The Lions fell to eventual Open Cup Champions and current Major League Soccer (MLS) affiliate Sporting Kansas City last year 3-2 at Sporting Park.
About Orlando City Soccer Club:
Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) is a premier professional soccer sports franchise in the United States and is a member of the USL PRO. The Lion’s pro team has won two regular season titles and one postseason championship during their short time in Orlando. Outside of the pro squad, OCSC also has their own youth club, Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) and a U23s team that participates in the PDL. For more information on the pro and youth clubs, visit www.orlandocitysoccer.com and www.orlandocityyouth.org.