Format, schedule for 2016 US Open Cup unveiled with record number of teams

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  • February 5, 2016
Photo: Bob Larson

Sporting Kansas City celebrates their 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title. Photo: Bob Larson

UPDATE: Rio Grande Valley FC has been removed from the tournament by the request of the Houston Dynamo. Chattanooga FC (NPSL) and Kitsap Pumas (PDL) receive byes into Round 2 as a result.

UPDATE: The draw for Round 1 and the Round 2 scenarios was released

The US Soccer Federation has released the format and schedule for the 103rd edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The tournament kicks off on Wednesday, May 11 and will feature a Modern Era (1995 to present) record 92 participating teams from Division 1 all the way down to the amateur level (Division 4). A record 48 Open Division teams will participate after the Third Qualifying Round was eliminated due to a reduction in professional teams entering the competition. Also new this year, once the Round of 16 matchups are determined, the bracket will remain fixed until the Final, which takes place on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

First Round matchups and potential Second Round possibilities will be announced on Wednesday, April 6. 14 local amateur qualifiers, 19 PDL teams, and 15 NPSL clubs will begin play in the First Round with 18 USL sides entering in the Second Round on Wednesday, May 18. The nine eligible NASL teams will join the action on Wednesday, June 1 when the Third Round takes place. The Fourth Round, which is slated for Wednesday, June 15, will see MLS teams enter the fray. Upon its completion, the field for the Round of 16 will be set and a fixed bracket will be determined for the remainder of the tournament.

There have been rumors of a possible national broadcast for the Final this year and US Soccer is preparing for that possibility by noting that “any game chosen by US Soccer to be broadcast nationally is subject to being moved up a day”.

Check out the full field, schedule, and all other pertinent details below…

Tournament Format, Schedule and Other Key Dates:

Initial Pairings Announcement – April 6

First Round games as well as Second Round possibilities announced.

First Round – May 11

Number of Games: 24
Participants: 48 Open Division teams (14 local qualifiers, 19 PDL sides and 15 NPSL clubs).
Description: Teams will be paired geographically with the restriction that teams from the same qualifying pool (e.g. local qualifiers, PDL, NPSL, etc.) cannot be paired to play each other.

Second Round – May 18

Number of Games: 21
Participants: Winners of 24 First Round games are joined by 18 USL clubs.
Description: At the time the First Round pairings are made, each USL team will be matched geographically to a specific First Round pairing and be scheduled to play its winner. The remaining First Round matchups not paired with a Division III side will be paired up geographically, with the winners playing each other to complete the round.

Third Round – June 1

Number of Games: 15
Participants: Winners of 21 Second Round games are joined by nine NASL sides.
Description: After each Second Round matchup has been determined, each NASL team will be paired geographically to a specific Second Round matchup and be scheduled to play its winner. The 12 remaining Second Round matchups not paired with a Division II side will be paired up geographically, with the winners playing each other to complete the round.

Fourth Round – June 15

Number of Games: 16
Participants: Winners from 15 Third Round games are joined by 17 MLS clubs.
Description: After each Third Round matchup has been determined, 15 of 17 MLS teams will be paired geographically to a specific Third Round matchup and be scheduled to play these winners, while two MLS teams will face each other to complete the bracket.

Round of 16 Draw – June 16

The Fourth Round winners will be divided geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four, with teams who are precluded from playing each other until the Final (see list elsewhere) placed in different groups. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, resulting in a fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Should a precluded pair of teams reach the Semifinal Round and be scheduled to face each other, the matches will be re-drawn after the quarterfinals to avoid this outcome.

Round of 16 – June 29

Number of Games: 8
Fourth Round winners face each other as determined by the Round of 16 Draw.

Quarterfinals – July 20

Semifinals – Aug. 10

Final – Sept. 21

Note: The day following each of the dates listed above is reserved as a make-up date in the event of a weather postponement. Additionally, any game from the Fourth Round until the Semifinals where one of the participants has a league game the following Friday will be moved up a day (exception to this is when the team’s opponent is scheduled for a league game the preceding Sunday; in this case, the provisions in the Open Cup Handbook to resolve such an issue prevail). Finally, any game chosen by U.S. Soccer to be broadcast nationally is subject to being moved up a day.

2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Participating Teams
Division I, II and III Professional Teams Eligible to Participate (44 total):

Division I – Major League Soccer (17 teams, entering in the Fourth Round): Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City

Division II – North American Soccer League (9 teams, entering in the Third Round): Carolina RailHawks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC, Minnesota United FC, New York Cosmos, Rayo OKC, Tampa Bay Rowdies

Division III – United Soccer League (17 teams, entering in the Second Round): Arizona United, Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, Colorado Springs Switchbacks, FC Cincinnati, Harrisburg City Islanders, Louisville City FC, Oklahoma City Energy, Orange County Blues, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, Sacramento Republic, Saint Louis FC, San Antonio, Tulsa Roughnecks, Wilmington Hammerheads

Division IV, Open Division Teams (48 total, all entering in the First Round, except Chattanooga FC & Kitsap Pumas will enter in Round 2):

Local Qualifiers (14 places, listed alphabetically by state): California (5): La Maquina, LA Wolves FC, Outbreak FC, San Francisco City Football Club*, San Nicolas FC; Colorado (1): Harpo’s FC*; Florida (1): Boca Raton Football Club; Louisiana (1): CD Motagua of New Orleans; Massachusetts (1): Southie FC; New York (2): Lansdowne Bhoys FC, New York Pancyprian Freedoms; Pennsylvania (1): West Chester United; Texas (1): NTX Rayados*; Virginia (1): Aromas Cafe FC

Premier Development League (19 places): Division Winners: Burlingame Dragons* (Calif.), Charlotte Eagles (N.C.), Des Moines Menace* (Iowa), FC Tucson* (Ariz.), GPS Portland Phoenix (Maine), Kitsap Pumas* (Wash.), Michigan Bucks*, Mississippi Brilla, New York Red Bulls U-23, The Villages SC* (Fla.); At-Large Berths previously awarded: Jersey Express* (N.J.), Long Island Rough Riders* (N.Y.), Reading United* (Pa.), Seacoast United Phantoms* (N.H.), Ventura County Fusion* (Calif.); At-Large Berths newly awarded: Albuquerque Sol FC (N.M.), Cincinnati Dutch Lions (Ohio), Portland Timbers U-23, Sounders FC U-23. The PDL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2015 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2016 Open Cup.

National Premier Soccer League (15 places): Qualified via 2015 NPSL playoffs: AFC Cleveland (Ohio), CD Aguiluchos USA (Calif.), Chattanooga FC* (Tenn.), Clarkstown SC Eagles (N.Y.), Indiana Fire, Myrtle Beach Mutiny (S.C.), Sacramento Gold (Calif.); At-Large Berths previously awarded: Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves, FC Wichita (Kan.), Fredericksburg FC (Va.), Miami Fusion FC; At-Large Berths newly awarded: Chesterfield United FC (Va.), Corinthians FC of San Antonio (Texas), Detroit City FC*, Kraze United (Florida). New York Cosmos B and New York Athletic Club, previously awarded places in the 2016 competition, have withdrawn. The NPSL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2015 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2016 Open Cup.

* Participated in 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (The Villages SC played as Ocala Stampede)

Teams not eligible to play each other until the Final
(result of ownership affiliation or level of control over another squad participating in the tournament)

New York Red Bulls (MLS), New York Red Bulls U-23 (PDL)
Portland Timbers (MLS), Portland Timbers U-23 (PDL)
Seattle Sounders FC (MLS), Sounders FC U-23 (PDL)

In the instances listed above, the lower-division teams are allowed to participate per Section 202(d) of the Open Cup Policy (which limits an organization to fielding its top professional team when owning more than one pro side) because the teams either do not share an ownership affiliation or are not professional teams (in the case of PDL squads).