Club Deportivo Motagua of New Orleans discovered on Tuesday they became the first amateur soccer team from Louisiana to ever qualify for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in its modern format.
And they didn’t even have to play another game.
To earn an Open Cup berth, Motagua was going to have to defeat Dallas-based NTX Rayados at home at Pan American Stadium on April 2. But, on Tuesday, U.S. Soccer Federation officials informed Motagua that another league feeding sides into the cup would have fewer teams participating in the competition than originally planned.
That meant there would be enough available berths for Motagua and several other similar teams to directly qualify into the first round of the Open Cup without having to play another match.
The Open Cup’s first round is tentatively scheduled to start May 11. No opponent had een drawn for Motagua on Tuesday.
In its current format, amateur soccer teams across the United States can qualify for the 102-year-old Open Cup and measure themselves against Major League Soccer clubs and lower-division professional sides by winning their local leagues and clearing a pre-tournament qualifying phase.
With a roster that includes several players who have previously starred on developmental teams such as the New Orleans Jesters and Baton Rouge Capitals, Motagua made it to the Open Cup’s three-round, preliminary qualifying phase after winning the inaugural Louisiana Premier League over four other teams in 2014.
Motagua — named in honor of a professional club in Honduras — got a first-round bye and then beat Queen City United of Charlotte, North Carolina, by a score of 5-2 at Pan American Stadium on Nov. 21.
A draw held last month pit Motagua against NTX Rayados, but Tuesday’s news made the showdown moot.
Aside from its Louisiana Premier League title, Motagua has captured each of the three championships disputed in New Orleans’ so-called Islano League since 2013. The Blue Eagles additionally won a U.S. Adult Soccer Association regional cup in Dallas in June, defeating NTX Rayados 3-0 in the final before advancing to the semifinals of the USASA’s national tournament in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Only one Louisiana team has qualified for the modern U.S. Open Cup: the New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers, who once played at the level just under MLS and went 1-1 in the single-elimination competition in 1997 before eventually folding. MLS teams have won all but one of the Open Cups disputed since the pro league began play in 1996.
Recognizable names on Motagua’s roster are Brandon Chagnard, Reece Wilson and Steven Morris.
All are creative attackers and capable goal scorers who have previously played for the Jesters, while Chagnard and Morris have suited up for the Capitals as well.