The Des Moines Menace huddle up before kickoff of their First Round match vs. Duluth FC in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Des Moines Menace
Despite the official announcement not happening until Jan. 9, teams from both recognized Open Division National Leagues (National Premier Soccer League and USL League Two) have been receiving word and announcing their acceptance into the 2020 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on social media.
Not all the news is good however. Earlier this month, US Soccer announced the revamped format for the 2020 tournament which included teams from Major League Soccer entering in separate rounds and the First Round kicking off in March. The latter note comes at a cost for some Open Division teams that rely on NCAA athletes who are not allowed to play in the tournament before May 1. It has already been announced that both Reading United AC and the Flint City Bucks, the 2019 USL-2 finalists, have already publicly stated they will not field teams in the tournament due to roster concerns. TheCup.us also confirmed that the NPSL’s Midland-Odessa Sockers FC, who have qualified three times in the last five years, will also not be participating due to the schedule change.
With more teams switching leagues or declining spots, TheCup.us has been able to track down and confirm the 13 NPSL and 10 USL-2 teams that will join the 13 Open Division Local qualifiers in the First Round come March.
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National Premier Soccer League
Since 2011, National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) teams have been awarded berths in the US Open Cup based on previous season results. Coming into 2020, that has not changed. However, as a result of teams joining other leagues and teams not being able to field a roster due to a lack of NCAA talent, some of the highest “ranked” teams will not be collecting their league allocated slot. This means, the next best team from their region can claim it.
This is easily trackable using our NPSL Open Cup ranking article (Ex: Miami FC is not participating through NPSL, so the next best South Region team, Tulsa Athletic, moves into the #1 spot).
Teams that were in-line or close to having a berth but declining are:
(*Would not have made it without teams from their region declining)
- Miami FC (Moved to NISA, will not field team in NPSL)
- New York Cosmos B (Will not field team in NPSL) (Confirmed)
- Detroit City FC (Moved to NISA, will not field team in NPSL) (Confirmed)
- Midland-Odessa Sockers FC (Confirmed to TheCup.us)
- Chattanooga FC (Moved to NISA, will not field team in NPSL)
- Brooklyn Italians (Will not field team in NPSL) (First reported by TheCup.us)
- Orange County FC*
- AFC Ann Arbor (Moved to USL-2)*
- Grand Rapids FC (Moved to USL-2)*
- Greenville FC*
Here are the NPSL teams that will compete in the 2020 US Open Cup:
(*Would not have qualified without a team declining a spot)
- Tulsa Athletic (NPSL Quarterfinalist, South Region – Heartland Conference) (Tweet)
- FC Motown (Northeast Region – Keystone Conference) (Tweet)
- ASC San Diego (NPSL Semifinalist, West Region – Southwest Conference) (Tweet)
- Cleveland SC (NPSL Semifinalist, Midwest Region – East Conference) (Tweet)
- Naples United FC (South Region – Sunshine Conference)* (Instagram Post)
- FC Arizona (NPSL Quarterfinalist, West Region – Southwest Conference) (Instagram Post)
- Minneapolis City SC (Midwest Region – North Conference) (Tweet)
- Atlantic City FC (Northeast Region – Keystone Conference) (Tweet)*
- Denton Diablos FC (South Region – Lone Star Conference) (Tweet)*
- FC Davis (West Region – Golden Gate Conference) (Tweet)
- Med City FC (Midwest Region – North Conference) (Facebook post)*
- Miami United FC (South Region – Sunshine Conference)*
- West Chester United SC (Northeast Region – Keystone Conference) (Tweet)*
- Fort Worth Vaqueros (South Region – Lone Star Conference) (Tweet)*
Of note is that Miami United FC’s Under-23 team also qualified for the tournament through local qualifying. The organization has confirmed to TheCup.us that both squads will play in 2020. According to Open Cup rules, they will not be allowed to play one another unless both reach the Final.
USL League Two
USL League Two teams (formerly the Premier Development League) have been receiving first round spots in the US Open Cup since the start of the Modern Era in 1995. This year will be no different. However, as a result of teams switching leagues and teams not being able to accommodate the March start date of the 2020 tournament, some of the highest ranked teams will not be collecting their league allocated spot meaning the next highest team will be awarded.
It’s also unclear if there was a change to USL League Two’s allocation process as the Flint City Bucks say they have declined the spot offered to them. They were originally 14th on our ranking list, but as league champion they may have been offered a US Open Cup berth.
Besides Flint City, two other teams will not be taking their spot in the tournament. Reading United, as Mid-Atlantic Division Champion, has declined their spot due to the schedule change, ending their Modern Era record streak of 11 qualifications in a row.
Colorado Pride Switchbacks U-23s, the Mountain Division champion, will not be fielding a team in USL-2 next season at all, so their spot is given to another team.
Here are the qualified teams:
- Des Moines Menace (Heartland Division champion)
- Western Mass Pioneers (Northeast Division champion) (Tweet)
- FC Golden State Force (Southwest Division champion)
- South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (Deep South Division champion)
- The Villages SC (Southeast Division champion) (Tweet)
- Chicago FC United (Great Lakes Division champion) (Tweet)
- North Carolina Fusion U23 (South Atlantic Division champion) (Tweet)
- GPS Portland Phoenix (At-Large)
- SC United Phantoms (At-Large) (Tweet)
- Corpus Christi FC (At-Large) (Tweet)
We are still waiting to hear back from one more division winner, the Mid South Division champion Brazos Valley Cavalry on whether they have entered into the cup. The next team in line after that is Ventura County Fusion. Ventura County is still exploring the option of playing.