The matchups for the upcoming first round of Spain’s Copa del Rey was set on Thursday afternoon, giving all Americans participating in the opening matches straightforward paths to the later stage.
The first round includes a whopping 116 teams from a wide number of levels in Spain (and neighboring Andorra), almost guaranteeing any teams in the top two divisions a potential cakewalk against lower league opposition.
The first round, with games happening on December 1, kicks off a hectic schedule in the competition that includes up to eight matches – accounting for a two-legged semifinal – for teams embarking on the quest to reach late-April’s final in Seville.
The only four teams from the top two divisions missing from the draw are the four that will participate in the Supercopa de España tournament in Saudi Arabia in mid-January. Since this includes Barcelona, along with Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Atlético Madrid, Sergiño Dest will first enter this competition two rounds later, in early-January’s round of 32.
Nevertheless, four Americans learned their teams’ fate for the competition, although with word in the Spanish press indicating that Matthew Hoppe is out until 2022, only three have a chance to suit up for their teams in two weeks.
Matt Miazga has fallen out of favor lately in the Alaves central defense, and with the team actually earning more points without him, he might be relegated to the dreaded “cup duty” with his team. If so, he will have the chance to show his chops in two weeks when his team visits sixth-tier Unami, who actually had to already win a preliminary game – against fellow lower division foes Aldeano – to have the honor of hosting the La Liga strugglers.
Yunus Musah has been in and out of Valencia’s starting lineup this season, although he has succeeded in becoming a critical piece of the USA national team’s starting lineup. His team was drawn to visit another sixth-level team Utrillas in their Cup opener, a team that also navigated the preliminary round with a win over the only seventh-division team in the competition.
Finally, Tenerife’s Shaq Moore, who has seen some La Liga 2 action amidst a busy schedule, sees his team with a much more daunting task as they must face a team competing only two divisions below them on the totem. The island club will have the opportunity to visit a team from another popular holiday destination, CD Ibiza Islas Pitiusas, who play in the fourth division of the Spanish system.
Finally, Matthew Hoppe will likely be unavailable for Mallorca’s visit to fourth-tier Gimnástica Segoviana due to injury, and if reports are correct, will have to hoppe his team advances past this and the next round in mid-December before he might actually take the field in January’s round of 32.
All 58 games of the first round are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, December 1.
Copa del Rey first-round draw
Utrillas – Valencia (Yunus Musah)
Unami – Alavés (Matt Miazga)
Gimnástica Segoviana – Mallorca (Matthew Hoppe)
Ibiza Islas Pitiusas – Tenerife (Shaq Moore)