2020 US Open Cup will feature Modern Era record 100 teams

Posted by | January 8, 2020

Photo: Houston Dynamo

US Soccer has announced the largest tournament in the Modern Era (1995-present) of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Along with 62 professional teams (breaking the record of 52 pro teams set last season), there will be an additional 38 Open Division teams (up from the 32 teams in the 2019 edition)

Also announced was the pairing methodology for each round of the competition. It’s been mostly unchanged from previous years, but there are a couple changes.

Last month, US Soccer announced the 23 MLS teams, 12 Open Division Local Qualifiers, and the USASA Amateur Cup champion would participate in 2020 tournament. Along with those teams, 25 USL Championship, 6 USL League One, 8 NISA, 14 NPSL, and 11 USL League Two teams will participate for this tournament starting on March 24-25.

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All 100 teams in the 2020 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup:

Division I – Major League Soccer

Teams entering in the Round of 32 (12):

  • Atlanta United FC (defending Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champion)
  • D.C. United
  • Los Angeles FC
  • LA Galaxy
  • Minnesota United FC
  • New England Revolution
  • New York City FC
  • New York Red Bulls
  • Philadelphia Union
  • Portland Timbers
  • Real Salt Lake
  • Seattle Sounders FC

The four USA entrants to the 2020 Concacaf Champions League and the next four best American regular-season finishers in 2019 in each of the league’s Eastern and Western Conferences were granted the extra bye.

Teams entering in the Third Round (11):

  • Chicago Fire FC
  • Colorado Rapids
  • Columbus Crew SC
  • FC Cincinnati
  • FC Dallas
  • Houston Dynamo
  • Inter Miami CF
  • Nashville SC
  • Orlando City SC
  • San Jose Earthquakes
  • Sporting Kansas City


Division II – USL Championship (excludes teams majority-owned or otherwise controlled by a higher division professional club)

Teams entering in the Second Round (25):

  • Austin Bold FC
  • Birmingham Legion FC
  • Charleston Battery
  • Charlotte Independence
  • Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
  • El Paso Locomotive FC
  • FC Tulsa
  • Hartford Athletic
  • Indy Eleven
  • Las Vegas Lights FC
  • Louisville City FC
  • Memphis 901 FC
  • Miami FC
  • New Mexico United
  • North Carolina FC
  • OKC Energy FC
  • Orange County SC
  • Phoenix Rising FC
  • Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
  • Reno 1868 FC
  • Sacramento Republic FC
  • Saint Louis FC
  • San Antonio FC
  • San Diego Loyal SC
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies


Division III – USL League One (excludes teams majority-owned or otherwise controlled by a higher division professional club)

Teams entering in the Second Round (6):

  • Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
  • Forward Madison FC
  • Greenville Triumph SC
  • Richmond Kickers
  • South Georgia Tormenta FC
  • Union Omaha


Division III – National Independent Soccer Association

Teams entering in the Second Round (8):

  • California United Strikers FC
  • Chattanooga FC
  • Detroit City FC
  • LA Force
  • Michigan Stars FC
  • Oakland Roots
  • San Diego 1904 FC
  • Stumptown Athletic


Open Division teams entering in the First Round:

Local Qualifiers (12):

East Region:

  • Christos FC (USASA)
  • New York Pancyprian Freedoms (USASA)
  • Vereinigung Erzgebirge (USASA)
  • Virginia United* (ANFEEU)

Central Region:

  • Louisiana Krewe FC (USASA)
  • Miami United FC U23 (USASA)
  • Nashville United (USASA)
  • NTX Rayados* (USASA)

West Region:

  • Cal FC* (USASA)
  • Chula Vista FC (USCS)
  • FC Boulder Harpos (USSSA)
  • Olympic Club (USASA)

* Participated in 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup


2019 U.S. Adult Soccer Association National Amateur Cup champion:

  • Newtown Pride FC (Conn.)


National Premier Soccer League (14):

Listed by region in order of rank:

Northeast Region (3):

  1. Atlantic City FC
  2. West Chester United SC*
  3. FC Motown*

South Region (4):

  1. Tulsa Athletic
  2. Naples United FC
  3. Denton Diablos FC
  4. Fort Worth Vaqueros FC

Midwest Region (3):

  1. Cleveland SC
  2. Minneapolis City SC
  3. Med City FC

West Region (4):

  1. ASC San Diego
  2. FC Arizona
  3. FC Davis
  4. Crossfire Redmond

* Participated in 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

Note: The NPSL entered its teams via the National Leagues track under Open Cup regulations, opting to use 2019 league results (a combination of playoff finishes and regular season success) to determine its qualifiers for the 2020 tournament.


USL League Two (11):

Division winners:

  • Chicago FC United
  • Des Moines Menace*
  • FC Golden State Force*
  • North Carolina Fusion U23
  • South Georgia Tormenta FC 2*
  • The Villages SC*
  • Western Mass Pioneers

Wild card entries (in rank order):

  1. GPS Portland Phoenix
  2. SC United Bantams
  3. Ventura County Fusion
  4. Corpus Christi FC

* Participated in 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

Note: USL League Two entered its teams via the National Leagues track under Open Cup regulations, opting to use 2019 regular season league results (division winners ranked highest) to determine its qualifiers for the 2020 tournament.

Declined Bids

Also announced last month was the schedule for the competition, and with a start date before college players were allowed to leave their schools, it left USL League Two and NPSL teams scrambling to see if they could field teams. TheCup.us has confirmed the following teams declined their bids due to the schedule change:

  • Reading United AC (USL2) as Mid Atlantic Division champion
  • Brazos Valley Cavalry (USL2) as Mid South Division champion
  • Midland-Odessa Sockers (NPSL) as Lone Star Conference regular season champion and ranked 3rd in the South region rankings (First reported by TheCup.us)

The teams that benefit from the declined bids in USL2 are Ventura County Fusion and Corpus Christi FC.

Miami United FC would have also received a bid in the NPSL that was declined. However, this was likely declined for other logistical and roster management reasons as their Under-23 team in the UPSL qualified in Local Qualifying. Combined with Midland-Odessa Sockers declining their bid and that resulted in Denton Diablos and Fort Worth Vaqueros both getting a spot in the competition (as the 6th and 8th placed teams in the South rankings)

Separated teams

Just like in years past, some teams must be separated unless they reach the final due to the shared ownership or one team giving material technical support to another. The following pairs of teams must be separated:

  • Denton Diablos (NPSL) and Fort Worth Vaqueros (NPSL) because of shared ownership.
  • LA Force (NISA) and FC Golden State Force (USL2) because of shared ownership.
  • South Georgia Tormenta FC (USL1) and South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (USL2) because of shared ownership.
  • San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) and Reno 1868 FC (USLC) because Reno receives material technical support from San Jose.

Pairing Methodology

With the new format of 11 MLS teams starting in the Third Round of the competition, there have been a couple changes to how teams are paired in each round of the competition.

First Round (March 24-25)

  • Number of Games: 19
  • Participants: 38 Open Division teams (12 local qualifiers, 1 USASA Amateur Cup champion, 14 NPSL, 11 USL League Two)
  • Pairings Format: Teams will be paired geographically against clubs from other qualifying pools*

* Teams may be paired from the same qualifying pool if it results in better overall travel for the first round teams.

Second Round (April 7-9)

  • Number of Games: 29
  • Participants (58): 19 First Round winners, 14 Division III teams (8 NISA, 6 USL League One), 25 Division II clubs (USL Championship)
  • Pairings Format: After the First Round pairings are made, each First Round pairing will be matched geographically to a specific Division III or Division II team. The remaining Division III and Division II sides will be paired to play each other (avoiding any remaining Division III clubs from playing other Division III sides and any remaining Division II clubs from playing other Division II sides), with these pairings also made geographically.

This means there will not be any NISA vs. USL League One matches in the Second Round since they are both Division III leagues and clubs. Any other matchup is a possibility.

Third Round Draw (April 10)

  • Participants (40): 29 Second Round winners, 11 lower-seeded Division I clubs (MLS)
  • After completion of the Second Round, participants in the Third Round will be pooled geographically into either ten groups of four (with nine groups having three Second Round winners and one Division I club and one group having two Second Round winners and two Division I clubs) or nine groups (with seven groups consisting of three Second Round winners and one Division I side and two groups having four Second Round winners and two Division I teams), with the number of groups (either ten or nine) based on geographical considerations. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, with all Division I sides paired to face a Second Round winner and not another Division I club.

Third Round (April 21-23)

  • Number of Games: 20

Round of 32 Draw (April 24)

  • Participants: 20 Third Round winners, 12 higher-seeded Division I clubs (MLS)
  • After completion of the Third Round, participants in the Round of 32 will be pooled geographically into eight groups of four, with four groups having two Third Round winners and four groups having three. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, with all Division I sides playing their first tournament game paired to face a Third Round winner and not another Division I club playing their first tournament game.

Round of 32 (May 19-20)

  • Number of Games: 16

Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw (May 21)

  • The Round of 32 winners will be divided geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, resulting in a fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Should a prohibited pair of teams reach the Semifinal Round and be scheduled to face each other, the matches will be re-drawn after the Quarterfinal Round to avoid this outcome.

Round of 16 (June 10 or June 23-24)

  • Round of 32 winners face each other as determined by the Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw

Quarterfinal Round (June 23-24 or July 14-15)

  • Round of 16 winners face each other as determined by the Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw

Draw to Determine Hosts for Semifinals and Final (June 25 or July 16)

Semifinal Round (July 14-15 or Aug. 11-12)

Final (Aug. 11-12 or Sept. 22-24)

Finally, there was a change in the competition policy regarding suspended matches. If a match has kicked off and is terminated prior to the end of the first half or is otherwise tied at the time of termination and the termination is not due to the conduct of one of the teams, the match shall be restarted at the point of termination if restarted within two days of the original match date (games are required to be rescheduled for the next day unless mitigating circumstances prevent this). Otherwise, the match shall be replayed in its entirety if the rescheduled date is three or more days following the original match date.

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