US Club Soccer has announced the format of their qualification tournament for the 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Two California leagues and an open collection of teams that registered will make up the single-elimination tournament.
The NorCal Premier League will be holding a play-in tournament that was open to any team interested in signing up, as long as they are a part of a US Soccer-affiliated league. The winner of that mini-tournament will join the NorCal Premier League single-elimination competition and face No. 6 seed Juventus SC Black 93 to begin play in Mid-March.
The participants and schedule for the play-in competition have yet to be announced.
The top five finishers from last year’s league play, with the exception of 2013 champion Sonoma County Sol who rejoined the NPSL, will make up the remainder of the competition. No. 3 seed Vacaville United Elite will play the winner of the mini-tournament and Juventus SC Black 93, while 4-seed Oakland Ambassadors FC will take on No. 5 San Ramon Soccer Azuri.
Waiting in the semifinals are the two teams that received byes to the final four, DV8 Defenders and Pacific Soccer Academy.
The other league taking part is the SoCal Premier League who are submitting their two teams to the competition. Chivas USA U23s and the Corinthians USA.
“A big reason for setting up the tournament is that we want to grow our adult league,” said NorCal Premier League adult coordinator Mike Kelley. “One of the incentives [to get new teams] is if you participate in the fall league, that’s one way to get you into Open Cup qualification.”
The schedule and format for the semifinals have not been finalized, but the first round games are penciled in for Mar. 1 and the championship game that will decide US Club Soccer’s Open Cup entry will take place in a home and away series at the end of April.
2014 will mark the third year that US Club Soccer will take part in the tournament. In 2012, Stanislaus United Turlock Express represented the organization, but fell 2-0 to the Premier Development League’s Fresno Fuego in their opening match. Last year, the Fuego failed to qualify out of the PDL, so they entered and won the US Club Soccer tournament as the “Fresno Fuego Future” and qualified. They lost their opening round game to the NPSL’s FC Hasental 5-3.