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Centennial State showdown secured for second round of U.S. Open Cup between Hailstorm, Switchbacks

Centennial State showdown secured for second round of U.S.
Open Cup between Hailstorm, Switchbacks 1

If you are a fan of Colorado soccer, you can block out three dates in the first week of April. Soccer’s version of March Madness, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, is back, with the second-round matchups announced Friday.

There will be more local soccer and that can only be a good thing.

Among the matchups is a first-ever Centennial State showdown between Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC of the USL Championship and Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC from USL League One. That was one of the many headliners that came out of the second-round draw.

The teams will meet for the first time in a preseason exhibition Feb. 26 also in Colorado Springs.

The Open Cup second-round game will be played between April 5-7 at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs, but U.S. Soccer did not announce a specific date or time. That will be confirmed at a later date.

It will be Hailstorm’s maiden Open Cup voyage, and the state’s newest professional team will have to start on the road.

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The second round of the Open Cup also consists of three different types of matchups, all of which are supposed to be regionalized as much as possible: the most common matchup, Division II (USL Championship) versus Division III teams (USL L1, National Independent Soccer Association and MLS Next Pro), Division II versus the Open Division (fourth division teams from the national semi-pro leagues like NPSL, UPSL and USL League Two) and Division III versus Open Division teams.

Local amateur side Azteca FC from Denver will face Tulsa Athletic of the NPSL in the first round on March 23. If Azteca advances, it will have to travel back to Oklahoma to face Tulsa FC of the USL Championship in the second round.

Azteca already has the furthest distance to cover in the entire first round — 713 miles one-way. Azteca is one of 11 amateur teams in the country to reach the first round.

The Colorado Rapids will enter in the Round of 32, as a result of qualifying for the Concacaf Champions League. They will find out their opponent April 23, and will play the round on May 10-11.

To find the full second-round matchups, visit the Open Cup website.

Preseason finale. The Colorado Rapids closed out the 2022 preseason with a 1-1 tie against Orlando City SC Friday in Florida. After conceding in the opening three minutes, the Rapids pulled back level with a goal from Diego Rubio in first half stoppage time. Keegan Rosenberry was credited with an assist.

Of note, Max Alves da Silva, “Max”, and Bryan Acosta made their debuts for Colorado, and Mark-Anthony Kaye made his preseason debut after missing the other games due to international duty.

The Rapids had one win, one loss and three ties during preseason. They will start the 2022 campaign at 5 p.m. next Thursday in Guatemala City, Guatemala, for the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 against Guatemalan champion Comunicaciones F.C.

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