While the 2018 edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup concludes tonight in Houston, local qualifying rounds kicked off on Sunday in the Philadelphia area with West Chester United and the Ukrainian Nationals both posting wins to move one step closer to qualifying for the competition’s first round next year.
Philadelphia Union Academy grad Matt Greer scored the lone goal for West Chester United in their 1-0 win at Vereinigung Erzebirge. Chas Wilson linked up with Greer in the 57th minute and John Paletar and the Predators back line kept VE off the board the rest of the way in a muddy, back-and-forth affair with a flurry of whistles and players losing their footing.
Former @PhilaUnionYouth midfielder Matt Greer scored the lone goal in @WCUSC’s 1-0 win over @VEClub in Sunday’s #USOC2019 local qualifier. West Chester plays @UkrainianNats in second round on Oct. 21. pic.twitter.com/Dusz1zic9b— Brotherly Game (@BrotherlyGame) September 26, 2018
“The way the game flowed if you make a mistake in the back that’s how it’s going to be won,” VE head coach Rob Oldfield said after the match. “I thought we played pretty good -- I think these are still the best two teams in the state.”
VE finished second to West Chester United in the United Soccer League of Pennsylvania last season. Fellow league members Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals and United German Hungarians faced off in the other local qualifier on Sunday.
Jordie Griffith’s brace led the Ukies, which won the competition four times in the 1960s but haven’t qualified in a couple decades, to a 2-0 win over UGH.
The Ukies will host the Predators in North Wales on October 21st for the second round of local qualifying.
West Chester United last qualified for the Open Cup “proper” in 2016 when they made their tournament debut and ended up hosting the Harrisburg City Islanders in the second round after advancing past Fredericksburg FC on penalties in the first round.
West Chester nearly qualified through the National Amateur Cup, but lost in the final, and finished on the fringes of qualification through the National Premier Soccer League when they fell on penalties in the conference final against FC Motown.
“We’ve been so close to qualifying for the Open Cup in so many competitions throughout the year,” West Chester captain Michael Gonzalez said after Sunday’s game. “This tournament means a lot to us and it’s one of our biggest goals every season to get to that first round.”