Kickapoo Soccer Alums Face Off in US Open Cup Tuesday

skyler-russell-orlando-pdl-2014
Dane Kelly, Charleston Battery, tangles with Skyler Russell, Orlando City, as they scramble for the ball at Blackbaud Stadium on May 28, 2014.

The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has reached the fourth round and it offers a tasty morsel for fans of Springfield Soccer and more specifically, the Kickapoo Chiefs. Tuesday night the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer will host the Orlando City U23 PDL squad. Orlando City advanced by beating the Charleston Battery of USL Pro.

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It’s like the St Louis Cardinal’s facing their Single A team, that had to beat the Springfield Cardinals to advance in the tournament. The Top Division in US Soccer, Major League Soccer, facing a Fourth Division team from the Professional Development League (PDL), made up primarily of college players in a Summer League. The college player is Skyler Russell, the pro Jack Jewsbury.

Skyler Russell (Kickapoo 2010) recently completed his degree at Rollins College, where he started and played in every game the past two seasons after transferring from Syracuse following his freshman year (redshirt). The team reached the NCAA D2 tournament with a top-seed for the fifth year in a row in 2013, falling in the Quarterfinals but finishing ranked #5 Nationally by the NSCAA.

The team advanced in the US Open Cup by beating the Battery in penalty kicks that went 14 rounds. Skyler scored on his opportunity, something he has experience with. He also played a role in the first goal scored with his free kick into the box.

tomas-gomez-orlando-pdl-2014-2His teammate Tomas Gomez (Webster Groves/Georgetown) was a hero, with a pair of point-blank saves in regulation and a save in the eighth round of PKs that kept Orlando from being eliminated.

They will of course face Jack Jewsbury, a 1999 alumni of Kickapoo who went on to play at St Louis University before beginning his professional career with the KC Wizards.

The Portland Timbers begin their run in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday, June 17 (9:30pm CT). Like their MLS-based counterparts, the Timbers enter the knockout competition in the Fourth Round and begin their quest to become U.S. Soccer’s club champion.

Portland advanced to the semifinal of the 2013 U.S. Open Cup, making its deepest run in the tournament in club history last year. Here is what you need to know about the U.S. Open Cup and what lays ahead for the Timbers in their cup run in 2014.

What is the U.S. Open Cup?
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, recognized as U.S. Soccer National Club Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. Founded in 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination competition, which utilizes a tiered-bracket format. The 2014 U.S. Open Cup marks the 101st edition of the tournament.

In total, 80 clubs will participate in the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, the largest field in the competition’s modern history (1995-present).

The winner of the U.S. Open Cup earns a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, receives $250,000 and will have its named engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest nationally contested trophies in American team sports.

What’s 0n tap for the Timbers?
The Timbers play host to the Orlando City U23s of the Premier Development League (PDL) in a fourth-round matchup on June 17, at Providence Park at 7:30pm PT. The Orlando City U23s are an amateur team affiliated with Orlando City SC, a 2015 MLS expansion franchise that currently play in USL PRO.

What’s at Stake?
The winner between the Timbers and Orlando City U23s will advance to the Fifth Round of the U.S. Open Cup and move one step closer to becoming U.S. Open Cup champion. Should the Timbers advance to the Fifth Round, the club will earn a date with either Sporting Kansas City or Minnesota United FC (North American Soccer League). All possible fifth-round pairings for the Timbers, regardless of opponent, see the club on the road in the next round.

Four things to know about the Orlando City U23s
Like the Timbers have the Portland Timbers U-23s as a development platform, the Orlando City U23s serve in the same capacity for its parent club. The Premier Development League is the premier Under-23 league in North America, and the Orlando City U23s consist primarily of college players and professional prospects from the region.

Orlando City U23s have won each of their first two matches in the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, first defeating amateur team Jacksonville United FC of the National Premier Soccer League in the Second Round. In the Third Round, Orlando City U23s took down professional side the Charleston Battery (USL PRO) on May 28, eventually prevailing in a 14-round, penalty-kick shootout after regulation and added extra time.

Orlando City U23s are one of just three amateur teams to reach the Fourth Round of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, along with fellow-PDL team the Laredo Heat and USASA’s PSA Elite.

Led by head coach Paul Shaw, Orlando City U23s will have only played in six regular-season games before making their way to the Rose City for Tuesday’s cup tilt. The team currently sits in second place in the PDL’s Southeast Division and is led by top-scorer Romario Williams, a Jamaican youth international.