The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is American amateur and minor-league soccer's dream factory, and a win tonight at home by the Ocean City Nor'easters would put the team on the road to that dream.

The Nor'easters host the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a United Soccer Leagues Pro League team, at 7:30 p.m. at Carey Stadium in Ocean City in a U.S. Open Cup second-round game. Fans ages 16 and under will be admitted free.

The winner plays the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer next Tuesday in the third round. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup gives USL Premier Development League teams, such as Ocean City, the opportunity to meet an MLS team. The USL Pro League is one level up from the PDL.

"Our players are all aspiring to play pro soccer or be on their national team," Ocean City coach Tim Oswald said. "The Open Cup gives the players from a small program the opportunity to showcase their skills."

According to Nor'easters general manager Neil Hollo-way, Ocean City would travel to the Union for a game at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., but the Riverhounds would host the Union if Pittsburgh wins today.

The Nor'easters franchise, then known as the Ocean City Barons, advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup in 2009, losing to D.C. United of MLS.

Holloway, who was the Barons' coach during that run, was a player in 2002 in his first U.S. Open Cup for Ocean City. The franchise has seven Open Cup victories, including last Tuesday's 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls' U-23 team at Carey Stadium.

"The U.S. Open Cup is exactly the same as the (Football Association) Cup in England," said Holloway, "If you keep winning in the FA Cup, you play a team from the Premier League. We've made it to a game against an MLS team before, and we'll try to do it again. It's exciting for the coaches, players and fans, and the whole community.

Ocean City is 2-0, having also beaten the Central Jersey Spartans 2-1 on Saturday. The Nor'easters are led by Mark-hus Lacroix, Frank Tweneboa, Kevin Curran, Abe Keller, Ken Tribbett, Reco McLaren, Em-manuel Kollie and goalies Keasel Broome and Brian Billings.

The Riverhounds (2-4-4) are led led by forward Jose Angulo, who has four goals. Midfielder Matthew Dallman has five assists.

Contact Guy Gargan:

609-272-7210