Analysis / Union II

US Open Cup: West Chester United 0 – 2 Maryland Bobcats

Photo Marjorie Elzey

In a first-round game of the actual 2024 U. S. Open Cup tournament Tuesday evening March 19, local amateur side West Chester United SC hosted division three professional side Maryland Bobcats from Montgomery County, MD, a northwestern suburb of the District of Columbia, at YSC Sports at YSC Sports in Wayne, PA and lost 2-0.

While he only made the boxscore with a single assist, the most influential player in the match was Bobcat right winger Elijah Amo-Gottfried. His pace was significantly greater than anyone else on the West Chester team. In the 8th minute, long direct service behind West Chester’s restraining line beat the defensive double team by a gnat’s eyelash and broke Amo-Gottfried free to the end line, whence he centered a perfect ball that was easily struck home by an unmarked Darwin Espinal.

At the 56th minute it happened again but without the surprise. Service down the right flank and Amo-Gottfried’s pace broke him free momentarily behind the defense. He crossed to Abdou Thiam in the center, who in turn crossed to wide open left winger Espinal who calmly buried his shot into the right post’s side net.


Maryland Bobcats, professionals, play in the division 3 National Independent Soccer Association with 22 games listed for the current regular season among nine teams divided into two conferences.  As professionals from a professional league they qualified directly for the first round of the tournament.

This year, West Chester United SC’s qualification process is similar. United is one of eight National Premier Soccer League teams that qualified directly to the Open Cup itself.

NPSL contains both amateur teams with unpaid players and paid professional ones. As such, depending on the year’s decisions about the open division’s number of teams and number of rounds, an annually varying number of NPSL teams qualify directly to the tournament itself. This year amateur side West Chester is one of them.

The descriptor that best encapsulates West Chester United SC’s amateurs is “pre-professional soccer.” 2024’s Philadelphia Union striker Chris Donovan, 2024’s Philadelphia Union II newly named captain, midfielder Kyle Tucker, and 2024’s newly signed Union II backup goalkeeper Mike Sheridan all played for West Chester United recently. Sheridan did so earlier this year.

West Chester capstones the West Chester United/Penn Fusion developmental pyramid. They play year-round in three different leagues, the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL)  the United Soccer League Two (USL2) , and the United Soccer League of Pennsylvania (USL of PA) . West Chester’s total number of matches for all its leagues from fall ’23 through Spring’24  may be as many as 70.

Via one league or another, West Chester United has qualified for the U. S. Open Cup four consecutive times, omitting the years cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Year Qualified from First Round results Second Round results
2019 United Soccer League of Pennsylvania PKs over FC Baltimore Christos of NPSL Lost 4-1 to Birmingham Legion AC of USLC
2020 National Premier Soccer League  

(Tournament cancelled – pandemic)



(Leagues’ seasons and Tournament cancelled – pandemic)


2022 United Soccer League: League Two Lost 1-0 to FC Motown of NPSL
2023 United Soccer League of Pennsylvania Lost 3-1 to Ocean City Nor’easters of USL2
2024 National Premier Soccer League Lost 2-0 to Maryland Bobcats of NISA
The match

Throughout both halves Maryland Bobcats periodically created high quality sequences of play with a speed and precision of passing combinations that West Chester simply never matched. Predators’ understanding and effort was excellent. The technical skill and fundamental athleticism was not as comparable.

For the first 25 to 30 minutes the visitors dominated. Much to West Chester’s credit for the last hour they raised their game to match the Bobcats’ overall pace and intensity. For the last ten minutes of the first half they subjected the visitors to intense pressure, and continued it after the second half tap.

The hosts sustained their effort but the visitors matched the challenge. West Chester had the greater quantity of attacks, but Maryland’s fewer were more dangerous. West Chester never unlocked the Bobcats’ defense to the same degree their own was unlocked twice.

Maryland’s goalkeeper Trevor Jackson had to be active, alert, and competent after the game’s first half hour. Yet he was never forced to make a truly extraordinary save. His clean sheet was never severely threatened, making him the match’s second-most influential player.

A final note

The three West Chester United alumni mentioned above were in attendance and recognized before the match. They served as the flag’s color guard during the national anthem.


West Chester: Cameron Sanders; Yassine Elkahloun, Ryan Luwick, Luca Mellor, John Ricks; Marcus Brenes, Joshua Luchini, Mason Miller, Kenneth Roby, Joshua Pulla; Ridge Robinson

Maryland: Unavailable

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