2017 US Open Cup format unveiled with record number of teams

Posted by | March 1, 2017
FC Dallas: 2016 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champions. Photo: FC Dallas

FC Dallas: 2016 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champions. Photo: FC Dallas

The United States Soccer Federation announced the format for the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a Modern Era (1995-present) record 99 teams set to take part in the 104th edition of the tournament.

Just like last year, the third round of the Open Division qualifying tournament has been canceled and all the remaining teams, with the exception of Minneapolis City SC who has been disqualified, will enter the tournament which is scheduled to begin May 10. The opening round will feature a Modern Era record 56 amateur clubs. 17 Open Division teams will join 21 Premier Development League (PDL) teams and 18 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) clubs.

The format will look a little different this year due to the changes at the professional level. For the first time since 1995, the first year of the Modern Era, there will not be three professional divisions represented in the tournament. The United Soccer League (USL) and the North American Soccer League (NASL) were both awarded provisional Division II status, and will all enter the competition in the Second Round, scheduled to take place on May 17. The USL will feature 18 teams, while the NASL is submitting six.

The Round 2 winners will play each other in Round 3 on May 31 and the teams that emerge from that will welcome the 19 US-based Major League Soccer teams in the Fourth Round on June 14.

2016-usoc-logo-724-wideThe winner of the 104th edition of US Soccer’s national championship, will take home a $250,000 cash prize and a berth in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. The runner-up receives $60,000, while the Division II club and the amateur club that advance the furthest will be awarded a $15,000 prize.

Last year, FC Dallas ended a 19-year title drought by defeating the New England Revolution 4-2 in the 2016 Final. Mauro Diaz had a record-breaking performance in the Final with a goal and three assists, and was named TheCup.us Player of the Tournament. Diego Restrepo of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers took home TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament honors.

There are some teams that did enough to qualify for the 2017 tournament but have been left out due to changing leagues. The chief example is Minneapolis City SC, a team that’s decision to change leagues ultimately disqualified them from the tournament. City changed from the Premier League of America to the National Premier Soccer League while the qualifying tournament was ongoing and according to the US Open Cup rules, that disqualifies them.

Two other teams, the Myrtle Beach Mutiny and the Midland-Odessa Sockers, had good enough league seasons to qualify for the NPSL and the PDL, respectively, but since those teams joined the rival league, they were left out. The New York Cosmos B, who are a professional team within the NPSL and owned by the NASL club of the same name, are not eligible due to rules forbidding pro teams owned by higher-level pro teams entering the same tournament.

Tournament Format, Schedule and Other Key Dates:

Initial Pairings Announcement – April 12

  • First Round games as well as Second Round possibilities announced.

First Round – May 10

  • Number of Games: 28
  • Participants: 56 Open Division teams
  • Competition: Teams will be paired geographically with the restriction that teams from the same qualifying pool (e.g. local qualifiers, PDL, NPSL) cannot be paired to play each other.

Second Round – May 17

  • Number of Games: 26
  • Participants: Winners of 28 First Round games are joined by 24 Division II clubs (6 from NASL, 18 from USL).
  • Competition: At the time the First Round pairings are made, each Division II team will be matched geographically to a specific matchup.

First Round pairing and be scheduled to play its winner. The remaining First Round matchups not paired with a Division II side will be paired geographically, with the winners playing each other to complete the round.

Third Round – May 31

  • Number of Games: 13
  • Participants: Winners of 26 Second Round games will play each other.
  • Competition: After each Second Round matchup has been determined, the Second Round pairs will be bracketed geographically to create the Third Round matchups.

Fourth Round – June 14*

  • Number of Games: 16
  • Participants: Winners from 13 Third Round games are joined by 19 MLS clubs.
  • Competition: After each Third Round matchup has been determined, 13 of 19 MLS teams will be paired geographically to a specific Third Round matchup and be scheduled to play these winners, while the remaining six MLS teams will be paired up to complete the bracket.

Round of 16 Draw – June 15

  • 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 per tournament regulations (i.e. pro teams and their affiliated Open Division sides) 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 28*

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

Quarterfinals – July 11^

Semifinals – Aug. 9*

Final – Sept. 20

* Any game in the Fourth Round, Round of 16 and Semifinal Round 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 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Handbook to determine the match date will prevail). In addition, any game chosen by US Soccer to be broadcast nationally is subject to being moved up a day.

^ For the Quarterfinal Round, teams may apply to change the match date within a window that runs between July 7-16 if both teams in a match are not scheduled otherwise.

Note: The day following each of the dates listed above is reserved as a make-up date in the event of a weather postponement.

2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Participating Teams

Division I and II Professional Teams Eligible to Participate (43 total):

Division I (19 teams, entering in the Fourth Round) – Major League Soccer: Atlanta United FC, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC, 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 (24 teams, entering in the Second Round) – North American Soccer League (6): Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC, New York Cosmos, North Carolina FC (formerly Carolina RailHawks), San Francisco Deltas

United Soccer League (18 teams): Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, FC Cincinnati, Harrisburg City Islanders, Louisville City FC, OKC Energy FC, Orange County SC (formerly Orange County Blues), Phoenix Rising FC (formerly Arizona United), Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Reno 1868 FC, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, Sacramento Republic FC, Saint Louis FC, San Antonio FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tulsa Roughnecks FC

Open Division Teams (56 total, all entering in the First Round):

Local Qualifiers (17 places, listed alphabetically by state): California (6): Chula Vista FC, El Farolito, La Máquina*, LA Wolves FC*, Moreno Valley Fútbol Club, Outbreak FC*; Colorado (2): Azteca FC, Colorado Rush; Florida (2): Boca Raton Football Club*, Red Force FC; Maryland (1): Christos FC; Massachusetts (1): GPS Omens; Nevada (1): Anahuac FC; New Jersey (1): FC Motown; Pennsylvania (2): Junior Lone Star FC, Tartan Devils Oak Avalon; Texas (1): NTX Rayados

Premier Development League (21 places): Division Winners: Charlotte Eagles* (N.C.), Des Moines Menace* (Iowa), FC Tucson* (Ariz.), Fresno Fuego (Calif.), GPS Portland Phoenix* (Maine), Michigan Bucks*, OKC Energy U23 (Okla.), Reading United AC* (Pa.), The Villages SC* (Fla.); At-Large Berths: Burlingame Dragons* (Calif.), Carolina Dynamo* (N.C.), Chicago FC United (formerly Chicago Fire U-23), Derby City Rovers (Ky.), FC Golden State Force (Calif.), Ocean City Nor’easters (N.J.), San Diego Zest (Calif.), SC United Bantams (S.C.), Sounders FC U-23* (Wash.), South Florida Surf, Ventura County Fusion* (Calif.), Western Mass Pioneers.

The PDL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2016 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2017 Open Cup.

National Premier Soccer League (18 places): Qualified via 2016 NPSL playoffs: AFC Cleveland* (Ohio), Albion SC Pros (Calif.), Chattanooga FC* (Tenn.), Clarkstown SC Eagles* (N.Y.), Grand Rapids FC (Mich.), Miami United FC (Fla.), New Jersey Copa FC (N.J.), Sonoma County Sol (Calif.); At-Large Berths: AFC Ann Arbor (Mich.), Atlanta Silverbacks*, Boston City FC (Mass.), Dutch Lions FC (Texas), FC Wichita* (Kan.), Fredericksburg FC* (Va.), Jacksonville Armada U-23 (Fla.), Legacy 76 (Va.), OSA FC (Wash.) Tulsa Athletics (Okla).

The NPSL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2016 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2017 Open Cup.