Region III has spoken and the final participants, from USASA, have been chosen or rather earned their spots through a weekend of match play in New Orleans.
Red Force (Florida) and NTX Rayados (NTX) will enter into the draw for this years 100th edition of the Open Cup, the matches of which will take place on May 14th and alongside 30 other sides, they will compete for a spot in round two.
This weekends play which saw nine sides compete in three groups of three, resulted in Sundays final matches involving group winners NTX Rayados (NTX), CD Motagua (LA), Red Force (FL) and also best runner up ASC New Stars (TXS) all competing for the winning two spots that would ensure an US Open Cup Spot.
Both 2012 region III entrants, ASC New Stars (beaten in 1st round by Laredo Heat 4-2) & NTX Rayados (beaten in 1st round by El Paso 3-1) managed to reach the qualifying stages again this year and would be hoping for much the same this term in qualifying but faced stiff opposition from the plethora of young guns searching for Open Cup success.
Friday saw previous two year entrants ASC New Stars take on Dallas TNT, emerging 3-0 winners to stamp their authority on the competition once again. Fellow 2012 entrants NTX Rayados also kicked off this years qualifying campaign with a thumping 6-1 win over Texas South entrants Islanders FC, who lost out at this stage last year.
Saturday saw the bulk of the matches and in Group A, Louisiana based CD Motagua took the bull by the horns early in the day with a magnificent 11-1 victory over Dallas TNT, that not only set the benchmark for scoring for the day, but also eliminated the Dallas side from the competition. In the later match, both CD Motagua and ASC New Stars who had a win each to this point, sparred off for the winners title which CD Motagua walked away with after a hard fought 2-1 victory. ASC New Stars though would find out later that they had secured the best placed runners up spot, that gave them the fourth semi final place in Sundays matches.
In Group B, Los Lobos from Oklahoma who had taken Boston Avenue's spot, started their first ever Open Cup campaign with a defeat to one of Friday night's winners in the form of NTX Rayados by the score of 4-1, which although never eliminated the OK side, made it difficult to progress as the the NTX side would not be able to be caught with two victories under it's belt. Los Lobos only hope would be best placed second spot but after a three goal deficit, that would be difficult to achieve. This proved to be the case after Islanders FC defeated them 4-2 in the evening Saturday match which ultimately eliminated both sides from contention.
Group C saw FC Rahr (NTX) take on Barracudas FC (Texas South) in the early match on Saturday but a 3-3 draw ensured that the group remained wide open. Later that day FC Rahr were defeated quite comprehensively 3-0 by Florida side Red Force who went on to also beat Barracuda 2-1 to take the group title.
So the semi finals were set, CD Motagua v NTX Rayados, Red Force v ASC New Stars and after a thunderstorm delayed start to Sunday morning's proceedings, it was NTX Rayados & Red Force who emerged victorious with 4-0 & 2-0 victories respectively, and with the wins, secured their spots in the 100th edition, the 2013 US Open Cup as USASA Region III representatives.
They will join an abundance of fellow Region III sides this season to compete for the ultimate prize in cup competition within the United States.
With the largest ever number of sides competing this year (68), joining them from our region are also the largest percentage (31%) of soccer sides in comparable terms to the other three regions.
USASA will join round one with NTX Rayados (2012 R1), & Red Force
NPSL sides will join round one with Georgia Revolution (2012 R2) & Chattanooga (2011 R1)
PDL will join round one with Austin Aztex, Carolina Dynamo (2012 R1, 2011 R1), Laredo Heat (2012 R2), Ocala Stampede & Orlando U23s (2012 R1)
USL PRO side will join round one with VSI Tampa Bay
USL PRO sides will join round two with Charleston Battery (2012 R3, 2011 R2), Charlotte Eagles (2012 QF, 2011 R2) & Wilmington Hammerheads (2012 R2, 2011 R3), Orlando City (2012 R3, 2011 R3)
NASL will join round two with Atlanta Silverbacks (2012 R3), Carolina Railhawks (2012 R4), Fort Lauderdale Strikers (2012 R3), San Antonio Scorpions (2012 R4) & Tampa Bay Rowdies (2012 R3)
MLS will join round three with Houston Dynamo (2012 R3) & FC Dallas (2012 R3, 2011 SF)
A total of 21 sides (31%) from the eventual 68 taking part will be from our Region III, the future's bright for the Region, let's make this 100th year one to remember in the US Open Cup.
The winner of this years competition will receive a $250,000 cash prize and a berth into the 2014–15 CONCACAF Champions League while the runner-up will received $60,000. The top finisher from each lower division will receive $15,000.
Mark the first round in your calendar to support Region III sides, May 14th 2013.
You can follow Region3Soccer on Twitter @region3soccer
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