The US Open Cup committee has finalized plans to have the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) take over the qualifying process for next year’s tournament. The new competition will begin in the fall of 2015 and will involve teams from the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), US Club Soccer (USCS) and the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) with the qualifying teams advancing to the 2016 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup the following spring.
When the registration period begins, any teams affiliated with those organizations can sign up for the 2016 US Open Cup qualifying tournament through the USSF. The teams that enter will be separated based on geographic location as to minimize travel costs, and giving teams from different organizations the chance to play each other.
“We have been talking about doing this for over a year,” said USASA president and Open Cup committee member John Motta. “This will help the USSF add some prestige to their tournament.”
The complete details, including the registration deadlines, have yet to be announced by the USSF.
The United Soccer League’s Premier Development League (PDL) and most of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) are expected to continue to determine its entries based on the previous year’s league results. However, it is unclear at this point if the NPSL Western Conference will fall in line with the rest of Division 4 (amateur division) which will have its entries determined for the 2016 US Open Cup by the end of 2015. Major League Soccer, North American Soccer League and the United Soccer League will not be affected by these changes.
“I am excited to see the tournament develop and the amateur organizations play a bigger part in regards to adding teams who will be able to pursue qualification now,” said USSSA Vice President and National Director Craig Scriven. “The changes will allow each structured league the ability to be represented in the oldest tournament in the country. We [USSSA], fully support the development and I am excited to see the future of this tournament as more teams compete for the Open Cup.”
Motta also confirmed that the USASA has voted to eliminate the organization’s Open Cup tournament as one of its national events. However, for next year, Region I will continue to hold an Open Cup tournament, with an invitation extended to other USASA teams from Regions II, III and IV.
The competition, up until this year, was the organization’s method of qualifying for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, in addition to eventually crowning a USASA Open Cup champion. Once professional teams re-joined the tournament en masse in 1995, the over-matched amateur clubs decided to create their own version of the Open Cup in 1999, later renamed the Werner Fricker Open Cup. In addition to selecting their entries for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, those same teams squared off at the USASA National Finals to crown a champion. As far as men’s soccer goes, the USASA continues to offer the Amateur Cup, which has always had the same rules and format as the Open Cup and has been running since 1923.