Which PDL teams will play in the 2018 US Open Cup?

Posted by | August 4, 2017
The Western Mass Pioneers were eliminated by Boston City (NPSL) in penalty kicks in the 2017 US Open Cup First Round. Photo: Western Mass Pioneers

The Western Mass Pioneers were eliminated by Boston City (NPSL) in penalty kicks in the 2017 US Open Cup First Round. Photo: Western Mass Pioneers


It’s never too early to start looking ahead to the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

The Premier Development League (PDL), the amateur league which has been participating in the US Open Cup (under various names) since the Modern Era began in 1995, is heading down the home stretch of the 2017 season.

The team allocations for the 2018 US Open Cup have not been released yet, but assuming there isn’t a major format change, we can make predictions about what teams may qualify for the 105th edition of the tournament.

As far as predicting the number of teams, you can never know for sure. However, it’s worth considering that the number of PDL teams in the tournament has only increased since the league first entered a single team in 1995. Last year, the league was awarded an all-time high 21 entries.

PDL-Primary-ShieldThe PDL has made it very simple in determining their entries in recent years. The league’s entries are based on the previous year’s regular season results. So the top 21 overall teams get in.

We would do the same analysis for their rival, the National Premier Soccer League, but that league bases their entries on a combination of playoff results and regular season results. In addition, they use a somewhat complicated formula where teams from certain divisions are included based on the number of teams they are allowed to submit. So we’ll just wait until their allocation formulas are released.

With the assumption that the number of teams at least remains the same, we have ranked the top teams in the PDL below.

UPDATE (7/16/17)

There wasn’t much drama in terms of the Top 21 standings. The Southern California Surf, who were position to leap frog a number of teams with a game against Orange County SC early on Sunday afternoon, had their game postponed. However, in an evening game, the Portland Timbers U-23s made that game irrelevant to the standings when they had no trouble with Lane United, beating them 3-0. The win claimed the Northwest Division title and the No. 18 spot in the overall (U.S. team) standings (SEE BELOW). This means that the Surf, and San Francisco City FC were both eliminated from contention.

Now, we have 21 teams set, although keep in mind that teams could leave for other leagues, fold or, in a very rare case (it has happened before), decline to participate. Once again, the format for the 2018 US Open Cup has not been released, so it is possible that more than 21 teams could be entered, or fewer than 21 teams could be included. If the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) could receive “national” league status, they could steal some spots from the PDL or the NPSL, but that has yet to be determined by the US Soccer Federation.

UPDATE (7/15/17)

The final day of the PDL season is on Sunday, July 16 and the top 20 is set, leaving three teams fighting for the final spot. Once again, just to reiterate, this is purely based on the 2017 qualifying format where the PDL received 21 entries. This could change for 2018.

Heading into the final day, we have ranked all of the teams based on the tiebreakers (1. Head to head 2. Wins 3. Goal difference), which, if the season ended after Saturday’s games, San Francisco City would get the 21st spot due to having seven wins to Portland Timbers U-23s’ six wins. However, the City’s regular season is over and the Timbers have one last game on Sunday against Lane United FC (3-5-5). A win or a draw by the Timbers will clinch the 21st spot.

However, there is one more team could spoil the party for both San Francisco City and the Portland Timbers. The Southern California Surf will take on Orange County SC (1-11-1) and if they win, they will be tied with City and the Timbers and South Georgia Tormenta FC (who have been eliminated already due to the wins tiebreaker). If those teams all finish tied, the Surf will earn the 21st spot because they will have nine wins.

Other notable teams that were eliminated include the Des Moines Menace who have been represented in the tournament every year since 2010 (NOTE: On two occasions, when their PDL team did not qualify, they entered a separate team into USASA qualifying and earned a spot in the US Open Cup).

Here are the qualifying scenarios for the three remaining teams:

San Francisco City FC … will qualify with a Portland Timbers U-23s loss and draw (Sunday) or a loss by the Southern California Surf.

Portland Timbers U-23s … will qualify with a win or draw vs. Lane United FC (Sunday).

Southern California Surf … will qualify with a win on Sunday vs. Orange County SC U-23s (Sunday).

x – clinched a spot in the Top 21
Through the games of July 16, 2017 | Check out the 2017 PDL schedule here

Team Points Games left
1. x-NY Red Bulls U-23s 37 0
2. x-OKC Energy U-23s 37 0
3. x-Reading United AC 36 0
4. x-Seacoast United Phantoms 35 0
5. x-SIMA Aguilas 34 0
6. x-FC Miami City 33 0
7. x-Michigan Bucks 33 0
8. x-FC Golden State Force 33 0
9. x-Myrtle Beach Mutiny 33 0
10. x-Fresno Fuego 32 0
11. x-FC Tucson 30 0
12. x-Mississippi Brilla FC 30 0
13. x-Charlotte Eagles 29 0
14. x-Lakeland Tropics 29 0
15. x-Ocean City Nor’easters 28 0
16. x-Nashville SC U-23s 28 0
17. x-Long Island Rough Riders 28 0
18. Portland Timbers U-23s 28 0
19. Western Mass Pioneers 27 0
20. The Villages SC 26 0
21. FC Boulder U-23s 26 0
22. San Francisco City FC 25 0
23. South Georgia Tormenta FC 25 0
24. Des Moines Menace 23 0
25. Southern California Surf 22 1
  Saint Louis FC U-23s 22 0
SC United Bantams 22 0
Brazos Valley Calvary FC 22 0
FC Boston 21 0
Tobacco Road FC 21 0
Colorado Rapids U-23s 20 0
St. Louis Lions 19 0
  Sounders FC U-23s 19 0
West Virginia Chaos 19 1