Duluth FC has officially been named as the only club in the NPSL to enter into the U.S. Open Cup’s 106th edition, to be played in 2019. The club find themselves in their second year of USOC action after reaching the NPSL’s National Semi-Finals and winning the NPSL’s Midwest Regional Title. That semi-final appearance ended in a 3-0 loss to Miami FC 2, the reserve squad for the former-NASL side which also featured first team players.
Duluth FC’s inclusion in the cup will mean Minnesota has two representatives in the USOC, the other of course being Minnesota United, who are automatically qualified by being an MLS club.
One notable name missing from Minnesota’s involvement in the club is Minneapolis City SC, who won Midwest North conference in 2018 and reached the regional semi-finals of the NPSL’s playoffs. This is a shift from last year in which both Duluth FC and the Dakota Fusion took part due to their conference and regional success in 2017, with the Fusion neither winning the conference or appearing in a regional semi-final.
A shift in who qualified had previously been brought up by many due to the increase in professional clubs who will automatically enter the tournament, both due to the expansion of MLS and the USL Championship and the creation of USL League One.
Minneapolis City has notably been unable to play in the USOC for several years now due to issues with switching leagues and losing in a qualifier match, in which the host club, the Rochester Lancers, were criticized for not matching USSF and USOC regulations pertaining to stadium conditions, but their most recent exclusion may be the surprising due to the precident set the year before.
It appears that we didn't make #USOC2019— Minneapolis City SC (@mplscitysc) January 8, 2019
After 3 years of "being unlucky" it's clear that it may not be for us. Not that we don't like paying $10k/game for the chance to play the local MLS team we already play.
We will discuss with Members if we bother to pursue it next year. pic.twitter.com/yCCKmL21qA
Minneapolis City made their exclusion public on Twitter on January 8th, mentioning that, “After 3 years of ‘being unlucky’ it’s clear that it may not be for us. Not that we don’t like paying $10k/game for the chance to play the local MLS team we already play.” With a thriving club shop, a return to Augsburg University in 2019, and two reserve squads taking shape, it is safe to say Minneapolis City will be having a great 2019 regardless of what chances they may miss out on in regards to the USOC.
Who Duluth FC will face in the USOC is yet to be made public, with geographically close options pointing toward the likes of the Des Moines Menace and Milwaukee Bavarians, though the club will hope to repeat their 2018 success which led to facing professional-side Saint Louis FC (USL Championship) in the second round.
Enormous thank you all the fans, media, and @TheRamblerMN who came out to cheer on the boys tonight! Unbelievable support, amazing turnout!!— Duluth FC (@DuluthFC) May 17, 2018
Time to focus on @NPSL_North & earn our way back next year. pic.twitter.com/0nyTOx6sXu
Duluth will play in the first round on either May 7th or May 8th, while Minnesota United will join the rest of MLS in the Fourth Round on June 12th. Further updates, including who Duluth will play in, will be reported as they come.