By Official Florida FC

 The U.S. Open cup returns to Jacksonville for the first time in five years on Thursday evening when the Jacksonville Armada host Miami United FC. The first round match will be played at Hodges Stadium.

The Armada were the last Northeast Florida club to participate in North America’s oldest soccer tournament. They were eliminated by… Miami United in the third round of the 2018 tournament.

Back then, the Armada were a professional club that was searching for a league home after the collapse of the North American Soccer League.

Now, the Armada are rising from the ashes.

Orlando City midfielder Sebastian Mendez wins the ball off Tampa Bay Rowdies captain Sebastian Guenzatti during the first half of a U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (Photo by Will Brown, Official Florida FC)

Jacksonville is the largest city in America that does not have a professional soccer club within two hours of its downtown. The Armada are one of two clubs looking to fill that void. (Disclosure: Official Florida FC Founder Will Brown wrote the story for WJCT News.)

The Armada will have the opportunity to stake its claim tonight in the U.S. Open Cup.

In all, there are four Florida teams competing in the first round. The Tampa Bay Rowdies, Miami FC and 2022 U.S. Open Cup champions Orlando City will enter the tournament in later rounds.