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April 2, 2023

US Open Cup Preview: Cleveland SC

US Open Cup Preview: Cleveland SC

On April 6th, the latest round of the US Open Cup will take place. The Richmond Kickers will take on Cleveland SC. Cleveland SC plays in the Rust Belt Conference of the NPSL where they finished 1st in their division and made it to the Regional Final. Cleveland SC won’t be a pushover though, as in the previous round they knocked out our 757 compatriots, Lionsbridge SC.  We reached out to Samuel T. Seibert, the President of Cleveland SC, for some insight on the “Underdogs” of the Ohio. 

  1. How was the club founded? 

SS- The perseverance and passion of old AFC Cleveland staff and players founded the club. The club had about 90 days to get up and going and completed the initial ramp-up. Two players and the current owner initially spoke in a Chipotle parking lot and then hashed out details over dinner.


  • Who are some big-name players who have played for AFC Cleveland/Cleveland SC?  


SS- Coletun Long, Chris Cvecko, Admir Suljevic, Mikey Derezic, Alec Nagucki, Vinny Bell, Declan McGivern, Antonio Manfut, Boban Cancar, Jannis Schmidt, Skye Harter. The list is kind of endless if you count national champion or playing overseas as a big deal. Maybe the two most well-known names are Bell, Manfut & Harter.


  • You are quoted as saying that " Cleveland has a soccer fan base that is a sleeping giant and we intend to tap into that immediately." How is the Cleveland Soccer culture and what makes it unique 


SS- Cleveland’s soccer fan base is strong because it’s diverse and cross-generational. It can be difficult to appeal to everyone but we continue our attempt by bringing inclusive of all clubs and bringing the most exciting play the sport offers in the area. 

Current team 


  • Being an NPSL (National Premier League Soccer League), how does the team recruit players? 


SS- We recruit by having strong staff and players that know the local guys as well as maturing youth. The easiest recruiting is asking if the player wants to play with top quality and a winning club.


  • Last year, this club made a deep run into the NPSL playoffs; what did the run mean for your club and what were some of the more memorable moments from it? 


SS- Last year was one step short of where we usually land. Winning the region in NPSL is a difficult task and last year we attempted a 4-peat but ran into a very quality side. The competition in NPSL just continues to get better each year. Most memorable from last year was overcoming midsession adversity with losses to Pittsburgh and a draw at home to Akron. We don’t tend to lose or draw at home. Having a first-year coach and some real competition at the conference level brought us closer as a club. Having a 90th-minute match-winner in the playoffs at home by one of the local up-and-comers was quite exciting. The most fun pre-season was last year's open cup with a comeback win against Chicago and the chance to compete against Forward Madison.


  • This is the club's 2nd appearance in the US Open Cup; how magical has this run been for the team knocking off a USL League 2 team in Lionsbridge?  


SS- Yeah, this would be more than two for us if the competition happened in ‘20 and ‘21. So we had to wait a while to get our feet wet finally. This run is magical because our players bond with one another. There’s a core of guys that have played the better part of a decade together, Guys who challenged FC Cincinnati in the Open Cup in 2017, and guys who made it an annual tradition in beating Detroit City. We are happy to have the chance to bring the show to Richmond.


  • Describe yourself as a coach. How do you usually look to play tactically, and how are you preparing yourself and your club for these cup games?  


SS- We have had three head coaches in our 6 season history, the best part about all of them has been their ability to feel the moment. Making appropriate personnel moves when necessary while getting the most out of their guys has been great Our roster can be fluid and we always play to our strengths more than try to cover an alleged weakness.

  1. Who are some players that fans should watch for this upcoming game? 

SS- We would say Jannis Schmidt but he will be unavailable due to a red last round. It’s a shame you won’t get to see his ability. For those who will be there, Tom Beck, Kieran Toland, Skye Harter, Boban Cancar, and Chris Cvecko will make things exciting for the fans.