A match against an MLS team in an MLS stadium on national television awaits FC Wichita if it can win in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Wednesday.
FC Wichita plays NTX Rayados, a North Texas amateur powerhouse, in Dallas on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be streamed live on USSoccer.com, with a watch party in Wichita at Jersey's Grill and Bar, 3213 N Toben St.
A win on Wednesday mean FC Wichita would likely play a regional MLS team, like Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas or the Colorado Rapids.
"This is the biggest game in the club's history, not just for the ownership but for the players because of what it represents," FC Wichita manager Blake Shumaker said. "This is an opportunity to validate themselves at the next level. That might mean something different to every single player. To be a part of a knockout match against a MLS team, it's a chance for those guys to prove themselves."
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FC Wichita is off to an undefeated start to its 2018 campaign. It has won the first two rounds in the US Open Cup for the first time in program history and is 3-0-0 in the National Premier Soccer League.
FC Wichita's offense has been producing. The additions of Franck Tayou and Nelson Landaverde have given FC Wichita its two top goal scorers, and they have fit in well with Leo Sosa as the creative force in the midfield.
Good news for FC Wichita came this week with the arrival of the team's all-time leading goal scorer in Matt Clare, who will join Tayou and Landaverde to form what should be an explosive attack on Wednesday.
"We've had guys like Franck and Nelson come up big for us and then you add a guy with the history of Matt Clare, and yeah, we're very confident," Shumaker said. "It's going to add a totally new dimension to our team."
Before the season, Shumaker had some questions about the team's back line and some positions in the midfield. The first five games of the season have allowed FC Wichita to strengthen those positions.
Shumaker expects a pair of impact defenders to return for Wednesday's match in Chris Lemons and Sebastian Pineda Gordillo.
"We started filling some of those gaps and we've had guys who have far exceeded what we thought they could do," Shumaker said. "We've got a lot of momentum going in and the team's morale is up. We're confident heading into the match and there's no reason to think this won't be an incredible match."