Wilmington Hammerheads FC enters a busy week ahead with two matches at Legion Stadium over a four-day span.
Since the 1-1 draw against Charlotte Independence, the Wilmington side has been preparing for its contest against Miami Fusion FC of the National Premiere Soccer League (NPSL) as part of the U.S. Lamar Hunt Open Cup.
Dating back to 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States soccer. Recognized as U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, the single elimination tournament is open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States.
The U.S. Open Cup is very similar to domestic cup competitions popular throughout Europe, South America and the rest of the world. Cup competitions, which usually run concurrent with a country’s league season, are open in the early stages to any club that qualifies, giving local amateur teams a chance to compete against the best teams a country has to offer.
With first-round competition in the books, 17 members of the United Soccer League (USL), including Wilmington Hammerheads FC enter the tournament this week. Clubs representing the North American Soccer League (NASL) begin play in the third round and Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs enter in the fourth round of the tournament.
Miami Fusion FC defeated Boca Raton FC 4-1 in round one on May 11. Miami currently competes in the Sunshine Conference within the 23-team NPSL. Through 10 matches in league play, Miami Fusion FC has an 8-1-1 mark atop their division.
With nine points and in eighth place among the 14-club USL Eastern Conference Table, Wilmington Hammerheads FC sits at 2-3-3 overall. The Hammerheads tallied once off a Bruno Perone penalty in the draw against Charlotte. It was Perone’s team-leading third goal of the season. Mael Corboz is also tied for the league lead with three assists.
Midfielder Zev Taublieb had a strong performance in the Hammerheads midfield against Charlotte, providing creativity in the final third and solid defensive work to help his side earn one point. Austin Martz has also given Wilmington athleticism and speed on the flank, but with Perone being the leading scorer as a defender, the Hammerheads have been searching for someone to step in and finish opportunities.
With a 7-7 goal for/against average and just two tallies in its last four matches, Wilmington signed free agent Casey Townsend prior to last week’s match and the University of Maryland graduate was active in the waning minutes against Charlotte as the Hammerheads searched for the game-winner. The Wilmington side also recently announced the addition of midfielder/forward Matt Harriott from Wealdstone FC of London.
Kickoff between Wilmington Hammerheads FC and Miami Fusion FC is set for 7 p.m. at Legion Stadium on Wednesday, May 18. The Hammerheads return to its USL schedule at home against Charleston Battery on Saturday, May 21.