Ballard FC hosts Spokane Velocity FC in 2024 US Open Cup First Round

Ballard FC 0
Spokane Velocity FC 1
March 20, 2024
Seattle, WA – Memorial Stadium
2024 US Open Cup – First Round

Ballard FC hosted Spokane Velocity FC in the 1st round of the 2024 US Open Cup in Seattle Wednesday evening at Memorial Stadium. The USL League One and League Two clubs both entered the tournament at this stage.

The 2024 US Open Cup opened play amidst controversy. With US Soccer and MLS at odds over participation, the tournament was modified with a compromise of some but not all MLS clubs participating.

2023 League Two champions Ballard FC were playing their first competitive match of 2024 with new head coach James Riley in a different setting. Seattle’s Memorial Stadium is the temporary home for the club due to renovations at Interbay Stadium. Memorial Stadium has an interesting soccer history in the town with the NASL and USL era Seattle Sounders, NWSL Seattle Reign FC, and other clubs and colleges having used the stadium for many decades. The old crumbling stadium has seen much better days.

Spokane Velocity FC are joining the USL League One in 2024 as an expansion side. This first season also gives them their first opportunity to play in the national cup. Having already played and split two league matches, the midweek cup match is sandwiched between two home league matches. The Velocity dropped their opener on the road, but opened the brand new One Spokane Stadium this past weekend with three points.

The early stages of the match was played at a fairly brisk pace. Both sides attacked long and direct, trying for the early lead on the Memorial Stadium fast and narrow pitch. The challenges were tough, neither side flinching from contact with only the winner advancing.

Ballard took it right at their new cross state rivals. But, despite the pressure and chances, the Velocity defense did not break. Near misses in the middle of the first half could have really altered the match. Spokane pressed back, having success on the flank getting into dangerous places. However, the lack of goals and score remaining level into the interval set up an interesting dynamic for the second half.

The second half showed no signs of the match slowing down. Ballard kept their foot on the pedal, but the goal did not come. Eventually, Spokane began to own more of the possession and as the second half progressed, the ball was more and more in front of the Ballard goal.

The later stages got tense, as the ongoing physical play led to a number of second half yellow cards in short succession. Even with all of the action in front of both goals the regulation ninety minutes did not see either side breaking through, setting the match into stoppage time looking for the goal that actually came late in the chilly March Seattle evening.

Spokane would take their chance on what was essentially the final sequence of the match late in stoppage time. Andre Lewis’ late stoppage volley in the 96th minute would suddenly silence the 2,452 raucous fans. Moments later, it was the final whistle. Spokane moves on. Ballard now has a bit of a wait to regroup and sort out their regular season roster prior to the May opener.

Ballard is looking to build on their two seasons of success, and the Wednesday night cup crowd was loud and solid from the early stages. A bit of a makeshift line up was needed due to the scheduling of the first round, but that did not seem to be evident from watching the match. Ballard has a solid core of players to continue to build on.

Spokane new must quickly return to league play at home this weekend, with a second round match also now on their schedule.

About Jeffrey Lageson

Father, Brother, Son, Goalkeeper, Writer, Dancer, Minion, [E] Enforcer, Marathoner, Rocker, Black Belt, Coug, ECS, Keeper Studios, Teacher, Shotgun Trapper ... WellDressedGandalf