El Farolito SC, amateur soccer team named after popular burrito spot, poised for more U.S. Open Cup success


The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup may be going on without some MLS clubs this season but that doesn’t mean that it is missing its fair share of drama as El Farolito SC have moved onto the third round of the tournament after defeating USL League One side Central Valley Fuego FC on Tuesday. Founded as an amateur side out of the San Fransisco area, sharing the name with a popular regional burrito chain, El Farolito are no strangers to the Open Cup despite restaurant employees no longer playing for the team. Now in the National Premier Soccer League, they’re semi-pro with some players being paid but others taking part as amateurs. 

Under the name San Fransisco C.D. Mexico, they actually won the Open Cup in 1993, qualifying for Concacaf Champions Cup where they fell to Liga MX side Necaxa. They would return to their original name while playing in amateur leagues before joining the NPSL ahead of the 2018 season. In 2023, they would qualify for the Open Cup under head coach Santiago Lopez, making it to the second round before now going at laest one round further this season. 

Their journey is similar to that of Christos FC, a Baltimore-based team that got their name from a discount liquor store. Christos advanced to the fourth round after taking down the Chicago Fire in 2017 before losing to D.C. United.

Lopez knows the team’s roots as one of the regional general managers for the burrito franchise and has been coaching El Farolito since 2011. Improving the team in his time in charge, El Farolito have now qualified for the Open Cup through NPSL three times but their aims don’t stop there. Led by Debor Benson, El Farolito have the joint-leading scorer in the U.S. Open Cup this season on their side with three goals.

A non-MLS side hasn’t won the competition since 1999 when the Rochester Rhinos did it and while this season may be a little different with only eight MLS sides entering their first teams, it does increase opportunities for lower division sides. That means there’s a chance that the Open Cup trophy could make a return to San Francisco if El Farolito can keep it the incredible run.

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