Why Birmingham Needed the US Open Cup More Than Ever

MLS is Coming to Birmingham, and it is the Perfect Summer Kickoff

Simply put, Birmingham needed this US Open Cup run. For those who do not know, the US Open Cup is one of the oldest sporting competitions in the world, starting in 1914. That is 108 years. For the first time in competition history (108 years), a team from Alabama is in the Round of 16.

That team is Birmingham Legion FC, of course, and on May 24th, they will be taking on Charlotte FC (MLS) at home. While this is not the first time Legion has taken on an MLS team at home (Atlanta United), or even the first time they have taken on Charlotte, this is the the first time it has ever mattered. This is not only a chance for Birmingham to show the United States that the love of sport is real, but it’s a chance to support your local professional soccer team in the biggest match in club history.

Why Does it Matter?

Simply put, this is a chance for Legion to not only play an MLS team, but also win $25,000 for being the last USL Championship team in the competition. The USL Championship is the Second Division of Soccer in the United States. Don’t get it confused with “minor league”, because these are fully professional athletes who have made a career out of playing soccer abroad and in the United States.

For Birmingham, this is a massive opportunity to not only reward the old fans, but create new ones alike. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC playoff game had over 10,000 people in attendance. 10,000 people came to watch a match up between two USL Championship teams and led to one of the most iconic moments in Birmingham sports, the penalty save by Trevor Spangenberg.

Why This Year?

For the first time since 2019, Birmingham Legion will have an uninterrupted season. That is four years of growth for the club that have been lost thanks to a world pandemic, a pitch that could not drain, or the World Games.

2019: The season was fine, but the team was not scoring goals and struggled to win
2020: The team was good, but there was a little virus going around
2021: The team was good, but there was still a virus AND BBVA could not drain properly, leading to 5 delays or postponements in the middle of the summer
2022: The team was REALLY good, but the USFL and The World Games pushed Legion out on the road for 8 weeks, in the heart of summer

This match between MLS side Charlotte FC will be the kickoff to summer, as most local high schools will be graduating that night or the next. What better way to celebrate your freedom of school than the biggest sporting event in town? The team is good, and has every piece you could ever want to beat an MLS side.

What Are the Chances?

In 2020, before the world fell apart, Legion took on Atlanta United at BBVA Field. In that match, Atlanta United of MLS played their best players against our best. The match ended 3-3. That Legion team who took it to one of the better MLS sides was a MUCH worse team than the 3 Sparks have now.

Originally tweeted by Kaylor Hodges (@KaylorHodges) on May 11, 2023.

Players like Juan Agudelo (USMNT/MLS), Enzo Martinez (MLS), Mikey Lopez (MLS Rookie of the Year), Alex Crognale (MLS), Tyler Pasher (Canadian Men’s National Team/MLS), Trevor Spangenberg (MLS), Matt VanOekel (MLS) are not afraid of Charlotte. This is a proving point for the players that they are not just as good, but BETTER than an MLS squad.

Not only that, but this is a prove it match for the fans. The fans have a chip on their shoulder because they KNOW the fans here are passionate. They KNOW that this team is good. They KNOW that this could be one of the best fanbases in US Sports. They know it, and now it’s time to show it.

Buy Your Tickets

CLICK THIS LINK to buy your tickets to the biggest match in Birmingham Legion FC history. It’s a massive day not just for the club, but the city of Birmingham. Tell your friends and make Protective a party!

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