SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake learned on Tuesday night that it will open its 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run with a third-round match against the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium next Tuesday, May 28.
Atlanta advanced to the third-round by beating NPSL side Georgia Revolution 3-2 on Tuesday night. The Silverbacks got two goals from former FC Dallas Homegrown player Ruben Luna and one from midfielder Pablo Cruz to down the Revs. Luna played for FC Dallas from 2010-2012, making 26 appearances for the Texas side. Luna is one of three Atlanta players with MLS ties along with on-loan Chicago Fire forward Kellen Gulley and 27-year-old former Galaxy defender/midfielder Mike Randolph.
Richie Menjivar is another notable player on the Atlanta roster. He played with the U.S. U-18s in 2008, but later made the switch to play for El Salvador’s U-23's in the 2012 Olympic Qualifying campaign. Menjivar helped to knock the U.S. out of contention for the London games by playing all 90 minutes in a 3-3 draw against the U.S. in March 2012.
Atlanta Head Coach Brian Haynes has ties to both MLS and RSL. Haynes spent 1996-2000 with the then-Dallas Burn, where he played with Claret-and-Cobalt Head Coach Jason Kreis, Real Salt Lake GM Garth Lagerwey and RSL Goalkeeper Coach Jeff Cassar. Haynes actually won the 1997 U.S. Open Cup – still Dallas’ only major trophy – with Kreis, Lagerwey and Cassar.
The Silverbacks have six other players with previous substantial U.S. Open cup experience. Randolph, Menjivar, Danny Barrera, Pedro Mendes, Pablo Cruz, and Beto Navarro all played for amateur side Cal FC during their Cinderella run to the fourth-round of last year’s tournament. Cal FC beat the USL Pro Wilmington Hammerheads 4-0 in the second-round of the and downed the MLS Portland Timbers 1-0 in the third-round before capitulating to eventual runners-up Seattle Sounders FC in the fourth-round of the 2012 tournament. That Cal FC side was coached by U.S. soccer legend Eric Wynalda, who – along with being a Fox Soccer analyst – is now Atlanta’s Technical Director (Click here to listen to Wynalda join the May 20 edition of On Frame).
Atlanta has gotten its 2013 campaign off to a decent start, currently sitting in third-place in the NASL standings with a 3-2-1 record. The Silverbacks won their last league game, getting goals from Luna and Barrera to defeat the first-place Carolina RailHawks - which featured then on-loan RSL midfielder Enzo Martinez - 2-0 at home on Saturday. Luna leads the Silverbacks in scoring, registering six goals across all competitions this year.
The Silverbacks will take on the San Antonio Scorpions in NASL action in Atlanta on Saturday before traveling to Utah ahead of Tuesday's third-round match. Tickets for Tuesday's game at Rio Tinto Stadium can be purchased online, at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office or over the phone at 801-727-2700.