Update: USL confirmed the following report with its official announcement.
TheCup.us has learned from multiple sources that the Premier Development League, the amateur division of United Soccer Leagues, will receive 16 berths for the 2012 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The expanded number of berths will be dispersed, with one exception, to the top two clubs from the 2011 standings in each division.
The news, coming from the USL Annual General Meeting being held currently in Clearwater, FL, is further confirmation of TheCup.us’ earlier report about upcoming changes for the tournament which will see an expansion of teams from 40 to 64 and an accelerated schedule that shifts the calendar too close to the start of the PDL season for the league to continue utilizing its four-match qualification format used since 1997. The report also noted that the expansion revolved around the inclusion of all Major League Soccer teams.
The one alteration to the PDL’s two-berth format, a total of four per conference, is in the Eastern Conference, which consists of three divisions. Based on the number of teams per division, the Mid Atlantic (9 teams last year) will receive two berths while the Northeast (5 teams) and South Atlantic (6 teams) will each receive one spot in the tournament.
With the USL AGM in the midst of planning the 2012 season, the final composition of clubs set to play next season has not been announced. Reading United AC and reigning PDL champion Kitsap Pumas are headed to a fourth consecutive appearance in the tournament, matching a record for consecutive entries from an amateur flight league set by Mexico SC (Fresno, CA) of the USASA. The Michigan Bucks are adding a league-record ninth appearance to their ledger. The Portland Timbers U23s and the MPS Portland Phoenix (Maine) are the only two teams who will make their debut in the 2012 tournament.
The 16 PDL clubs are expected to enter the 2012 competition in the opening round, along with 16 other amateur clubs, according to an earlier report. The distribution of the remaining amateur teams, between the USASA, NPSL and possibly US Club Soccer, has yet to be unveiled.
2012 PDL Entries – Based on 2011 Standings (official 2012 alignment unknown)
Michigan Bucks – 1st place in Great Lakes Division – record 9th appearance (9-7-1 all-time), last appearance: 2008
Chicago Fire PDL – 2nd place in Great Lakes Division – 5th appearance (6-4-0), 3rd straight appearance
Des Moines Menace – 2nd place in Heartland Division* – 6th appearance (6-5-1, 1-0 in PKs) – Last appearance: 2010
Real Colorado Foxes – 3rd place in Heartland Division * – 2nd appearance (1-1-0), 2nd straight appearance
*Canadian club Thunder Bay finished 1st
Long Island Rough Riders – 1st place in Mid Atlantic Division – 5th appearance, 3rd as a PDL team (3-5-0 all-time, 1-2-0 as a PDL team) … Last appearance: 2010
Reading United AC - 2nd place in Mid Atlantic Division … 6th appearance, 4th as a PDL team (0-5-0 all-time, 0-3-0 as a PDL team) … 4th straight appearance (tied for the amateur record)
MPS Portland Phoenix – 1st place in Northeast Division … 1st appearance
Carolina Dynamo – 1st place in South Atlantic Division … 8th appearance, 3rd as a PDL team (10-8-0 all-time, 5-3-0 as a PDL team) … 2nd straight appearance
Laredo Heat – 1st place in Mid South Division … 2nd appearance (0-0-1, 0-1 in PKs … lost to Dallas Roma FC in 2006, who went on to make their magical run) … last appearance: 2006
El Paso Patriots – 2nd place in Mid South Division … 10th appearance, 5th as a PDL team (8-7-3, 1-2 in PKs all-time, 2-3-2, 1-1 in PKs as a PDL team) … 2nd straight appearance
Mississippi Brilla – 1st place in Southeast Division … 2nd appearance (0-1-0) … last appearance: 2009
Orlando City U23s (previously Central Florida Kraze) – 2nd place Southeast Division … 5th appearance (0-4-0) … 3rd straight appearance
Kitsap Pumas – 1st place in Northwest Division…. 4th appearance (2-3-1, 1-0 in PKs), 4th straight appearance (Amateur record) … have qualified in every year of their existence
Portland Timbers U23s – 4th place in Northwest Division* … 1st appearance
Fresno Fuego – 1st Southwest Division … 2nd appearance (3-1-0) … last appearance: 2003 (advanced to the Fourth Round and lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy. 1 of only 3 PDL teams to ever advance beyond the Third Round)
Ventura County Fusion – 2nd Southwest Division … 3rd appearance (1-1-1, 0-1 in PKs), 3rd straight appearance
*Canadian clubs Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U23s were 2nd & 3rd