Club Deportivo Motagua of New Orleans on Thursday learned who they have to defeat and when they have to do it to become the first amateur soccer team from Louisiana to qualify for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in its contemporary format.
The Motagua Blue Eagles will have the opportunity to secure their Open Cup qualification when they host the Dallas-based NTX Rayados at Pan American Stadium in New Orleans at 7 p.m. on April 2, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced. If Motagua triumphs, they would form part of a field including professional teams from Major League Soccer.
In its current format, amateur soccer teams across the United States can make into the 102-year-old Open Cup and measure themselves against MLS and lower-division professional sides by winning their local leagues and navigating a pre-tournament qualifying phase.
Counting on several players who have previously starred on the New Orleans Jesters and Baton Rouge Capitals developmental teams, Motagua advanced to the Open Cup’s three-round, preliminary qualifying phase after winning the inaugural Louisiana Premier League in 2014 over four other teams.
Named after a professional club in Honduras, Motagua received a first-round bye and then hosted Queen City United of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Nov. 21 at Pan American in the second stage.
The Blue Eagles and Queen City played to a 2-2 stalemate over the first hour of their match before Motagua thumped in three unanswered goals to close out the proceedings and advance to the final round of qualifying.
A draw held Thursday determined the Blue Eagles and NTX Rayados would face each other in the spring.
Separately, Motagua have won each of the three championships disputed by teams competing in New Orleans’ so-called Islano League since 2013. They also won a U.S. Adult Soccer Association regional cup in Dallas in June — defeating NTX Rayados 3-0 in the final — and advanced to the semifinals of the USASA’s national competition in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Only one Louisiana team has qualified for the modern U.S. Open Cup: the defunct New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers, who used to play one level below MLS. In 1997, the Gamblers won their first Open Cup match but then missed out on the quarterfinals after losing 3-0 to the MLS’ Dallas Burn in a clash at Zephyr Field in Metairie.
MLS teams have captured all but one Open Cup up for grabs since the pro league began play in 1996.
Some of the names local soccer fans may recognize on Motagua’s U.S. Open Cup roster include Brandon Chagnard, Reece Wilson and Steven Morris.
Chagnard led New Orleans’ Jesuit High School to a state soccer title as a senior in 2005. He and Morris have each previously played for both the Jesters and the Capitals, and they are both talented attackers who score goals regularly.
Wilson — who’s played for the Jesters — is a capable goal scorer as well.
Further, former Capitals owner John Hamide holds a share in Motagua.
“It’s great that an amateur team from New Orleans ... is showing that there are talented adults who play at the amateur level here,” said Jonathan Rednour, the commissioner of the Louisiana Premier League. “I am proud of the team Motagua has been able to put together and their accomplishments, and a berth to the U.S. Open Cup would open the door for the rest of Louisiana to see that we do have the potential.”