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Seattle amateur soccer team fights for a U.S. Open Cup spot

19 men pose in light blue soccer jerseys and black shorts with their arms around each other's shoulders. A man in a shark suit lays in front on his stomach.
Courtesy of Leo Ohannesian
Sharktopus FC earned a bye in the first round of qualifiers and beat Holac FC in the second round. They need to win just two more games to qualify for the formal U.S. Open Cup tournament.

An amateur soccer club from Seattle named for a made-up sea creature is trying to get into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Aaron Nordman has been with the team since 2017. He explained that the U.S. Open Cup is the longest-running nationwide tournament in the U.S. This year over 100 teams are competing for 11 spots that have been set aside for amateur or semi-pro teams to compete in the event.

Most of these teams are a part of formal clubs or at least created with the intention of competing at a higher level. That was not the case for Sharktopus FC. No one really knows exactly when the team started or how they got their memorable name.

"I have no idea who decided at some point of time, in the last, you know, eight, nine years or whatever this is going to be the team name but it stuck," Nordman said.

It wasn’t until recently that Sharktopus got more serious about being competitive. But they still like to have fun. One of their traditions is that after a win, the player of the match gets to don a shark suit for their efforts.

"The best part of it really is the group of guys that are playing, it's people that you genuinely enjoy being around and playing with," Nordman said.

Sharktopus got a bye for the first round of qualifiers, allowing them to automatically advance. In the second round, they won their match against Holac FC to make it to the third round of qualifiers where they will face Inter San Francisco FC. If they win that game, they are only one more match away from securing a spot in the formal U.S. Open Cup where they have the potential to face professional teams like the Seattle Sounders or Portland Timbers

It's an idea that Nordman says has the team excited. Their player-manager is from Uruguay and has expressed his desire to play against fellow countryman Nicolas Lodeiro.

"He's been like, 'I just want to mark Nicolas Lodeiro, one time... it'd be my dream,'" Nordman said.

The players on Sharktopus FC come from various backgrounds.

"We have people from like, a guy from France, someone who was born in Mali, our manager was born in Uruguay, there's a few people from the greater Seattle area on the team, myself included," Nordman said. 

There’s a large age range too with high schoolers playing alongside ex-pros. And even a couple of players with reality TV ties. Kwame Appiah from season four of Netflix's "Love is Blind" is a member of the team as well as Jimmy Forde whose storyline did not make the final cut of the show.

The club has started selling Sharktopus FC merch and is encouraging the public to show up to their game on Saturday in pink. They play at Interbay Stadium at 10 a.m.

Grace Madigan is KNKX's former Arts & Culture reporter. Her stories focused on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.