Talking U.S. Open Cup: Dynamo, FC Tucson, and what Brian Ching has to do with the PDL

Bob Levey

Ahead of tomorrow's U.S. Open Cup match with the Houston Dynamo and FC Tucson, we talk about the tournament itself, break down the Dynamo opponent, and tell you how Brian Ching was a legend in "shadows" before becoming one in Houston.

The U.S. Open Cup gets mixed reactions across the country depending on which market you're in. In Houston the Dynamo haven't had too much success in the tournament, but this is the first time in many years they'll host a match. Tomorrow night, Houston will take on FC Tucson of the Premier Development League (PDL) at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:30pm).

Richard has Dynamo Theory's match preview - check it out here.

The question is will the fans turn out and support the tournament and the team? The Dynamo are offering a great deal on tickets (most seats are only $10) and they've closed off the upper level, so all fans will sit in the lower bowl. For those who never had, it's a great chance to come out and get a different view of the stadium.

As for the tournament, Houstonians seem to have mixed emotions about its importance. Some fans plead for Dominic Kinnear to take it seriously and put its importance up there with other championships, while others simply could care less and don't even know what the cup is for.

Alicia put up a feature a few days asking a pretty valid question - does anyone care about the U.S. Open Cup?

The USOC is the oldest soccer competition in the United States, dating back to 1913 - 100 years ago. That's right, for 100 years the tournament has been a feature in the US. If that isn't a reason alone to come out and see some soccer for a good price, I'm not sure what else is.

If you're on the fence, here's a few things I dug up to help our readers get a bit more familiar with the tournament, our opponent, and I tied it all back to the Dynamo (just for fun).

Our Opponent's History

FC Tucson was founded in 2010, so it's a young franchise. 2013 is their second season in the PDL, with their first one widely being a pretty big success.

They finished the 2012 season with 9-3-4 (31 points), qualified for the playoffs, but were ultimately eliminated by Seattle Sounders FC U-23 in the Western Conference semifinals. Not a bad rookie year, right?

This season, Tucson sits in third place in the Southwest Division with a 1-2-1 (5 points) record. The leading scorers for FC Tucson are striker David Clemens (2 goals, 1 assist) and Ricardo Velasco (2 goals).

The PDL is currently in their 19th season and the regular season runs through July. After the regular season ends, the league holds a playoff to crown a champion. Currently the PDL has 64 teams competing across 9 divisions and two conferences.

If you follow local soccer at all, teams like the Austin Aztex, Laredo Heat, and Houston Dutch Lions all compete in the PDL (just in case you weren't aware).

Something else just worth mentioning... Tucson's supporters group name is The Cactus Pricks. Now that's cool.

PDL Ties with the Dynamo

While FC Tucson and the Houston Dynamo don't necessarily have a connection, I did notice something that caught my eye regarding the PDL. Way back (ok it's not that far back) in 1998, a young striker we're all familiar with was named "Rookie of the Year" in the PDL. That young man has now become a captain and legend in Houston - Brian Ching.

He was clearly better than anyone else on the pitch for either club and was destined for greatness and a professional career. -Gerald Barnhart on Ching

Ching played in the PDL in 1998 and 1999 for the Spokane Shadow after a successful college career at Gonzaga. The only statistics I could find (so that's my accuracy disclaimer) was Ching scored 34 goals over 32 matches in his time at Spokane.

I found this 2010 Examiner two-part interview with Gerald Barnhart, who worked in public relations for Spokane Shadow in the 90's. It's a great read for those who enjoy history, and he fondly recalls Brian Ching suiting up for the Shadow.

Barnhart Interview: Part One / Part Two

You'll also notice former Dynamo defender Craig Waibel spent time with Spokane too.

So, what's the final verdict? Are you heading to BBVA Compass Stadium tomorrow to catch the game?

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