The United States Soccer Federation announced the third-round draw for the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, revealing that the Atlanta Silverbacks will host Seattle Sounders FC, the three-time defending U.S. Open Cup champions, on Wednesday, May 30 at Atlanta Silverbacks Park should they win their upcoming second-round game against the NPSL side Georgia Revolution.
The 2012 edition of the U.S. Open Cup includes 64 teams, which represents the highest number of participants in the tournament's modern era (1995-present). The tournament field ranges from teams from amateur divisions such as the National Premier Soccer League, U.S. Adult Soccer Association and U.S. Club Soccer all the way up to Major League Soccer. Seattle Sounders FC, the Silverbacks potential third-round opponent, has won the tournament three years in a row.
With all six U.S.-based NASL clubs set to participate after being excluded last year due to sanctioning issues, there is some additional intrigue in this year's tournament.
The Silverbacks along with the Carolina RailHawks, Minnessota Stars FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Antonio Scorpions have a second-round date in this year's tournament with the winner of a first-round matchup featuring teams from lower divisions of the American soccer pyramid.
In the Silverbacks' case, an in-state matchup in the second round is in the cards after NPSL side Georgia Revolution defeated PDL side Mississippi Brilla FC 1-0 in Conyers on Tuesday night. Despite being the higher-division team, the Silverbacks will make the short trip to Conyers to play Georgia Revolution at their home stadium, RYSA Soccerplex, this upcoming Tuesday night.
The intriguing part of the tournament comes in the third round, should the Silverbacks win their first game against Georgia Revolution. It’s in this round that all 16 U.S.-based teams from Major League Soccer are introduced, meaning the Silverbacks will have the unique opportunity of playing a top-flight American opponent.
Per U.S. Open Cup rules, teams must submit bids to host tournament games. In 2012, should each team reach the third round, five of the six NASL representatives in the tournament have been awarded with a third-round home game, with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers being the only one that would have to travel.
While each host team must pay a fee to serve as the home team in any given game, the tournament winners, runners-up, and top divisional finishers receive a cash prize. If the Silverbacks go further in the tournament than any other NASL team, the organization will receive $10,000. The prize for winning the entire U.S. Open Cup is $100,000.
The Silverbacks and Georgia Revolution kick off at 7:30pm on Tuesday night at RYSA Soccerplex. To purchase tickets, visit garevolution.com.