The 2016 U.S. Open Cup qualifiers continue this weekend, as several California teams are involved in the second round of qualifying.
Among those teams is San Diego County’s Chula Vista FC, one of the amateur teams that not only made it to the 2015 tournament proper, but were among the amateur teams to turn heads, as they convincingly beat a professional team, Arizona United SC, on their way to the third round.
But Chula Vista FC isn’t resting on their laurels, as head coach J. Hector Diaz explained to SoccerNation.com ahead of their game against La Maquina at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista on Saturday.
“We are hoping to build from the run [in the 2015 tournament] and get to play an MLS team [next] year,” he said.
“The U.S. Open Cup tournament is an amazing tournament, and very important to us. We believe this is the only tournament in the country that allows amateur teams to compete vs. the pros and allows the possibility to dream.”
Given the reputation CVFC has built as a close-knit, community-based team, it may come as a surprise that there are quite a few new faces on the current team. Diaz said there are just eight holdovers from the group that made the Open Cup run earlier this year, and captain Luis Alvarado is out with a knee injury suffered in the previous qualifying round.
And while many amateur teams like to use the Open Cup as a way to showcase some of their best players for professional teams, Diaz explained that Chula Vista’s objective was similar, but done perhaps a bit differently, taking a more holistic approach on the club level.
“Our club is united via our U-23 team and the soccer environment [and] culture is cultivated within our kids at the youth level. Our kids know our players, and they begin to dream of endless possibilities.
“We believe it all starts with a dream, and in this way we can create passionate players that will grow up to help our professional leagues and our national team as well.”
And Chula Vista already believe they are the best team in San Diego “with the most consistency.” Now they are eager to continue to make a name for themselves on a larger stage.
Full schedule of U.S. Open Cup qualifiers in California this weekend:
Chula Vista FC vs. La Maquina, Eastlake High School, Chula Vista – Saturday, 6 pm PT
LA Wolves FC vs. Cal FC, Toyota Sports Complex Field 1, Torrance – Saturday, 7:30 pm PT
San Francisco Football Club vs. Davis Legacy, Kezar Stadium, San Francisco – Sunday, 2 pm PT
Real Sociedad vs. San Nicolas FC, St. John Bosco Football Stadium, Bellflower – Sunday, 4:30 pm PT
San Pedro Monsters FC vs. Outbreak FC, Toyota Sports Complex Field 2, Torrance – Sunday, 7:30 pm PT