January 31, 2019
By Nichole Singleton
LITTLE ROCK, AR- US Soccer Federation announced today the teams who have qualified for the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, which included Little Rock’s very own soccer club, the Rangers. In the 106-year history of the Cup, Little Rock will be the first and only club from Arkansas to ever qualify.
In just their third season with the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the Rangers secured the Heartland Conference Champions title with a win over reigning champs, FC Wichita and moved on to beat the undefeated nationally ranked No. 1 Laredo Heat in the South Region Semifinal before matching up against top contender Miami FC 2; who later became the 2019 NPSL Champions. Although the historic playoff run came to an end in Miami, the Rangers finished in the nationally ranked in the final 8 which ultimately led to this 2019 US Open Cup Qualification.
“It is such a prestigious honor to be able to coach in the US’s oldest national soccer competition,”said Will Montgomery, Head Coach of the Little Rock Rangers. “It means you are either playing or coaching at a higher level that is worthy of being selected into this event. I’m also extremely happy the Little Rock Rangers will be the first soccer team from the state of Arkansas to be playing in the US Open Cup. It will have a tremendous impact on the growth of youth soccer locally and throughout the state.”
The Rangers first-round match of the US Open Cup will either be played on Tuesday May 7thor Wednesday May 8th. Home teams will be selected randomly at a later date based on which clubs apply for home field and if they meet field qualifications. “There’s literally a coin flip to decide who hosts the first-round games,”Jonathan Wardlaw, President and Founder of the Little Rock Rangers, explained. “If we are fortunate enough to host, I really think we will admirably represent the state of Arkansas to US Soccer both on and off the field. Unfortunately, we can’t play at War Memorial (the Rangers home stadium) due to the field being too narrow which is disappointing, but I’ve spoken with UCA about using their field since it is natural grass, which is also a requirement.” The Rangers opponent will be paired geographically and drawn at a later date as well in April.
The club will release more information and details regarding the US Open Cup as they are provided to them from US Soccer. As for now, the fans and city of Little Rock can celebrate this historic achievement with the club.