Tartan Devils Oak Avalon, an amateur club from Pittsburgh that advanced to the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2017 — will be back for more.
The local club that competes in the Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League, will be a part of a record-breaking field of 108 amateur teams that will be competing and a three-round qualifying tournament vying to get into the 2018 Open Cup proper.
The Tartan Devils will host the first qualifying round match on September 24 against Rochester River Dogz at Rooney Field (4 p.m. kickoff).
The history-filled annual tournament, entering its 105th year, is perhaps the only high-profile competition in American team sports where amateur sides, should they advance far enough, have the opportunity to face professionals in meaningful competition.
Open Division Local Qualifying – as this portion of the competition is called – will be conducted on a single-game, knockout basis. Match-ups are determined geographically to minimize travel time and expense, with random selection used when practicable to determine exact pairings. Home teams are determined by coin flip. The pairings for the second (Oct. 21-22) and third (Nov. 18-19) qualifying rounds will be determined and announced after each preceding round of games has taken place. The survivors after three qualifying rounds will advance to the first round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup next spring.
The first round of 2018 local qualifying will take place the weekend following the 2017 Final between three-time champion Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls (Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. CT, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).
In other Open Cup news, the National Premier Soccer League has elected to use the Open Division National Leagues track for qualifying, joining the Premier Development League, which made the same election last month. The NPSL will use 2017 league results to determine its clubs that advance to the Open Cup First Round, thus bypassing the local qualifying process.