For the second time in three years, the US Soccer Federation has announced the largest tournament in the Modern Era (1995-present) of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. A total of 103 teams, including a record-breaking 71 professional teams (previously set in 2019 with 52 pro teams) and 32 Open Division teams, are set to compete for the 107th edition of America’s national championship.
Also announced was the pairing methodology for each round of the competition. It’s been mostly unchanged from the canceled 2020 tournament, but there are a couple alterations.
Last month, US Soccer announced 25 MLS teams, 2 MLSNP teams, 11 Open Division Local Qualifiers, and the USASA Amateur Cup champion would participate in the 2022 tournament. Along with those teams, 23 USL Championship, 10 NISA, 11 USL League One, 10 NPSL, and 10 USL League Two teams will participate for this tournament starting on March 22-23.
Of note, the number of Open Division teams is a reduction from the 38 proposed for the 2020 tournament. However, it is the same number of teams that actually competed in 2019.
The 2022 US Open Cup winner will earn $300,000 in prize money and a berth in the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League. The runner-up will earn $100,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each of the three lower divisions (Second, Third, and Open) will each earn $25,000. This adds up to a grand total of $475,000 in prize money, the same amount awarded in 2019.
Additional announcements include the introduction of five normal substitutions in regulation, with one normal substitution added in extra time. These substitutions must be made at halftime or in three windows during regulation. For matches that advance to extra time, substitutions can be made before the first extra time period, at halftime of extra time, or during an additional normal substitution window that becomes available during extra time. The 2022 tournament will also be taking part in the concussion substitution trial, allowing teams up to two concussion substitutes and two concussion substitution windows. When a concussion substitute is used, the opponent will receive an additional substitute and additional substitution window.
Finally, in a new competition policy, if a tournament 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). These 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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All 103 teams in the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup:
Division I – Major League Soccer
Not all participating Major League Soccer teams will enter in the same round. The four USA-based entrants to the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League and the next two best American regular-season finishers in each of the league’s Eastern and Western Conferences will enter in the Round of 32.
Teams entering in the Round of 32 (8):
- Colorado Rapids
- Nashville SC
- New England Revolution (Supporter’s Shield Winner)
- New York City FC (MLS Cup Champion)
- Philadelphia Union
- Portland Timbers
- Seattle Sounders FC
- Sporting Kansas City
The remaining MLS teams (17) will enter one round earlier in the Third Round:
- Atlanta United FC (defending Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champion)
- Austin FC
- Charlotte FC (New team)
- Chicago Fire FC
- Columbus Crew
- D.C. United
- FC Cincinnati
- FC Dallas
- Houston Dynamo
- Inter Miami CF
- Los Angeles FC
- LA Galaxy
- Minnesota United FC
- New York Red Bulls
- Orlando City SC
- Real Salt Lake
- San Jose Earthquakes
Division II – USL Championship (excludes teams majority-owned or otherwise controlled by a higher division pro club)
Teams entering in the Second Round (23):
- Birmingham Legion FC
- Charleston Battery
- Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
- Detroit City FC
- El Paso Locomotive FC
- FC Tulsa
- Hartford Athletic
- Indy Eleven
- Las Vegas Lights FC
- Louisville City FC
- Memphis 901 FC
- Miami FC
- Monterey Bay FC (New team)
- New Mexico United
- Oakland Roots SC
- Orange County SC
- Phoenix Rising FC
- Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
- Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (Newly eligible)
- Sacramento Republic FC
- San Antonio FC
- San Diego Loyal SC
- Tampa Bay Rowdies
Division III – MLS Next Pro (excludes teams majority-owned or otherwise controlled by a higher division pro club)
Teams entering in the Second Round (2):
- Rochester New York FC (1999 US Open Cup champion)
- St. Louis City SC (to be named second team)
Division III – National Independent Soccer Association
Teams entering in the Second Round (10):
- AC Syracuse Pulse (New team)
- Albion San Diego
- Bay Cities FC (New team)
- California United Strikers FC
- Chattanooga FC
- Flower City Union (New team)
- Los Angeles Force
- Maryland Bobcats FC
- Michigan Stars FC
- Valley United FC (New team)
(Note: NISA has announced Chicago House AC, New Amsterdam FC, and Stumptown AC will not take part in the 2022 US Open Cup. NAFC general manager Evin Nadaner told TheCup.us that both his team and Chicago are “still considering playing at the professional level next season”. Chicago declined to comment for this story. More information to come.)
New Amsterdam and Chicago are still considering playing at the professional level next season. We have many concerns about how NISA is being run and if the league addresses those concerns then we will play.
— Evin Nadaner (@scruffyisEvin) January 25, 2022
Division III – USL League One
Teams entering in the Second Round (11):
- Central Valley Fuego FC (New team)
- Charlotte Independence
- Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
- FC Tucson (Newly eligible)
- Forward Madison FC
- Greenville Triumph SC
- North Carolina FC
- Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (New team)
- Richmond Kickers
- South Georgia Tormenta FC
- Union Omaha
Open Division teams entering in the First Round:
Local Qualifiers (11):
- Brockton FC United (US Adult Soccer Assn./Bay State Soccer League, Massachusetts)
- Lynchburg FC (US Adult Soccer Assn./United Premier Soccer League, Virginia)
- Northern Virginia FC (aka NoVa FC) (US Adult Soccer Assn./Eastern Premier Soccer League, Virginia)
- Oyster Bay United FC (US Adult Soccer Assn./United Premier Soccer League, New York)
- City Soccer FC (US Specialty Sports Assn./National Soccer League, Florida)
- Orlando FC Wolves (US Specialty Sports Assn./National Soccer League, Florida)
- D’Feeters Kicks SC (US Club Soccer/The Roja League, Texas)
- Azteca FC (US Adult Soccer Assn./Colorado Super League, Colorado)
- Contra Costa FC (US Adult Soccer Assn./National Premier Soccer League, California)
- Escondido FC (US Adult Soccer Assn./United Premier Soccer League, California)
- San Fernando Valley FC (US Adult Soccer Assn./United Premier Soccer League, California)
2019 U.S. Adult Soccer Association National Amateur Cup champion:
Lansdowne Yonkers FC (US Adult Soccer Assn./Eastern Premier Soccer League, New York)
National Premier Soccer League (10):
Listed by region in order of rank:
Northeast Region (3):
- FC Motown^
- Georgia Revolution FC
- Hartford City FC
South Region (3):
- Tulsa Athletic**
- Southern States SC
- Miami United FC
Midwest Region (2):
- Cleveland SC**
- Minneapolis City SC**
West Region (2):
- Denton Diablos FC**
- Las Vegas Legends
* Participated in 2019 US Open Cup
** Qualified for canceled 2020 US Open Cup
^ Both of the above
(Note: The NPSL entered its teams via the National Leagues track under Open Cup regulations, opting to use 2021 league results (a combination of playoff finishes and regular season success) to determine its qualifiers for the 2022 tournament. You can view our interpretation of the rankings here.)
(Note No. 2: The Las Vegas Legends FC was ranked 21st in our NPSL rankings due to the low number of teams in the NPSL’s West Region. It is currently not known how the team jumped up in priority, as following FC Golden State declining it’s bid the next berth should have gone to the next ranked team regardless of region – in this case FC Milwaukee Torrent. However, it’s possible that each region must have at least 2 teams at minimum before it goes to any region. Last Vegas Legends is the next team available as it must come from the Southwest Division in this case.)
USL League Two (10):
- Chicago FC United**
- Des Moines Menace^
- North Carolina Fusion U23**
- Ocean City Nor’easters
- Park City Red Wolves SC
- Portland Timbers U23
- SC United Bantams**
- The Villages SC^
- West Chester United SC^
- Western Mass Pioneers**
* Participated in 2019 US Open Cup
** Qualified for canceled 2020 US Open Cup
^ Both of the above
(Citation: West Chester United SC qualified and participated in the 2019 tournament as a local qualifier)
(Note: USL League Two entered its teams via the National Leagues track under Open Cup regulations, opting to use 2021 league results (with division champions recieving first higher priority bids, while other teams were ranked based on regular season points-per-game) to determine its qualifiers for the 2022 tournament. You can view our interpretation of the rankings here.)
- FC Baltimore Christos (NPSL) as Mid Atlantic Conference champion, league semifinalist, and ranked 3rd in the overall rankings. The organization will not be fielding a team in the National Premier Soccer League next season.
- FC Golden State (NPSL) as Southwest Conference champion, league quarterfinalist, and ranked 8th in the overall rankings. The organization will not be fielding a team in the National Premier Soccer League next season.
- Kalamazoo FC (USL2) as Great Lakes Division champion and ranked 8th in priority.
- Long Island Rough Riders (USL2) as Metropolitan Division champion and 9th in priority.
- Mississippi Brilla FC (USL-2) as Mid South Division champion and ranked 10th in priority. Declined spot due to the late March start date affecting roster eligibility.
- South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (USL2) ranked 13th in priority. Declined spot due to the late March start date affecting roster eligibility
- Boston Bolts (USL2) ranked 14th in priority.
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:
- Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (USL1) and Park City Red Wolves SC (USL2)
- Los Angeles FC (MLS) and Las Vegas Lights (USL Championship)
- Portland Timbers (MLS) and Portland Timbers U23 (USL2)
With the new format of 17 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 22-23)
Number of Games: 16
Participants: 32 Open Division teams (11 local qualifiers, 1 USASA Amateur Cup champion, 10 NPSL, 10 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 5-7)
Number of Games: 31
Participants (62): 16 First Round winners, 23 Division III teams (10 NISA, 11 USL League One, 2 MLS NEXT Pro), 23 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 interesting matchups like Chattanooga FC (NISA) vs. Chattanooga Red Wolves (USL-1) and Flower City Union (NISA) vs. Rochester NY FC (MLSNP) are not possible in this round since they are all in Division III leagues.
Third Round Draw (April 8)
Participants (48): 31 Second Round winners, 17 lower-seeded Division I clubs (MLS)
After completion of the Second Round, the teams in the Third Round will be pooled geographically into groups of either four or six (depending on geographic distribution), with the Division I clubs distributed as evenly as possible among the groups. All Division I sides will be drawn to face a Second Round winner and not another Division I club. Any teams who are precluded from playing each other until the Final will be placed in different groups. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group. Instances where a logical geographic fit doesn’t exist to determine the groups will be resolved by random selection.
Third Round (April 19-21)
Number of Games: 24
Round of 32 Draw (April 22)
Participants: 24 Third Round winners, 8 higher-seeded Division I clubs (MLS)
After completion of the Third Round, the teams in the Round of 32 will be pooled geographically into groups of four, with the Division I clubs first entering the competition and any teams who are precluded from playing each other until the Final being placed in different groups. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group. Instances where a logical geographic fit doesn’t exist in determining the groups will be resolved by random selection.
Round of 32 (May 10-11)
Number of Games: 16
Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw (May 12)
The Round of 32 winners will be pooled geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four, with teams who are precluded from playing each other until the Final being placed in different groups. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group.
Round of 16 (May 24-25)
Round of 32 winners face each other as determined by the Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw
Quarterfinal Round (June 21-22)
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 23)
The four Quarterfinal Round winners will be paired geographically to determine the pairings for the Semifinal Round. Should two teams precluded from playing each other until the Final reach the Semifinal Round and be scheduled to face each other, the matches will be re-drawn to avoid this outcome.
Semifinal Round (July 26-27)
Final (Sept. 6-7 or 13-14)