BYU men’s soccer will play host to a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup first round match on May 13, the United States Soccer Federation announced Wednesday. The Cougars are set to face the winner of amateur clubs KC Athletics and Harpo’s FC, who will meet in a preliminary–round match on April 25.
“We knew that we would be playing a tough opponent, and we were very excited for it,” senior forward and team captain Garrett Gee said. “But the fact that we were able to find out who exactly we’re playing and especially that it’s going to be a home game just brings it to life and gets us that much more excited.”
BYU players and coaches have been excited for months knowing they would participate in the Open Cup, but the news that it would bring another home game to their season was a pleasant surprise.
“It was a complete 50-50 chance,” Gee said. “We were all hoping for a home game, because we have the most incredible fans and it really does help us to play in front of them. We were very happy when it turned out to be a home game.”
The Cougars have kicked their preparation into a higher gear after finding out who and where they will play.
“Now that we know it’s on our home turf and we kind of have a real opponent, it just makes the whole thing more real,” said Jace Green, the Cougars’ other team captain. “Our sense of urgency has picked up only because we didn’t really know much about it beforehand.”
The team still doesn’t know a whole lot about either of its potential opponents aside from the fact that they’re full of quality players who have been around for a while. The average age of Kansas City’s players is 31, which is a challenge BYU doesn’t face often in the Premier Development League.
“We mainly play guys who are young and upcoming who want to play in the MLS within a year or two,” Green said. “The guys we’ll play in the Open Cup used to play in Division I or even professional who are good players and still want to play.”
The Cougars are being careful not to make the age difference into much of an issue, however.
“We can’t really take the fact that they are older as a disadvantage to them in any way,” Gee said. “If they’re still playing at that age, they must be quite special players.”
This is BYU’s third entrance into the nationwide tournament, which features all levels of professional and amateur soccer in the United States. A win would make the Cougars the only college-based team to ever get past the Cup’s first round.
“We’re going to be sure to make the most of it and hope our fans can come out and enjoy a good game,” Gee said.
The May 13 match will take place at 7:30 p.m. (MDT), with the winner going on to play the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, a USL professional team in the same division as the Real Monarchs, one week later.