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U.S. Open Cup set-up finalized

The road to the 2011 U.S. Open Cup has been set.

The USSF released its structure and schedule for this year's tournament on Thursday. Out of the 40 teams that get by the first phases of qualifying, 11 will be from new sanctioned third division USL-PRO, nine from USL Premier Development League, eight from MLS, eight from the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and four from National Premier Soccer League.

As was announced earlier in the week, teams from the provisionally sanctioned Division 2 NASL are not eligible for this year's tournament.

As a result of the MLS league standings from last season, the Los Angeles Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, FC Dallas and two-time defending champion Seattle Sounders automatically qualify for the third round of the tournament. The remaining 10 U.S.-based MLS teams will have to endure qualification for the league's final two spots in the third round, when only 16 teams will remain. The final is slated for Oct. 4.

How do you feel about the tournament set-up? Disappointed the NASL teams aren't included? Wish MLS teams didn't have to qualify for spots in the field? Do you see Seattle pulling off a three-peat?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I love the fact that regular season standings are the criteria for this tournament. The regular season in MLS means so little right now (once a playoff berth is assured); I feel that any incentive is a good thing. Not bashing on the Rapids, but how great is it that an amateur team gets a chance to knock-off the MLS champs? Only in this sport we love.

  2. I’m still not sure how it tops CCL, and then the CWC isn’t even on the list. That tournament does represent America. (as in North America)

  3. OK dudes, I’m not looking to win any arguments. Consider this a grass roots approach to making Open Cup relevant.

    Seattle was not allowed an MLS team until 2009. Prior to that, the only true trophy we could compete for was the US Open Cup. That’s why we take it seriously.

    There are plenty of talented teams throughout the US who don’t have the right investors to get in to MLS. This is their chance to prove their quality.

  4. I understand your argument, MLS tells everyone that the MLS Cup is most important so everyone jumps on board. That’s why starters play. MLS represents 14 American clubs, not America.

    The point I’m trying to make is that US Open Cup should be the most important trophy next to the league. Open Cup has seen the rise and fall of countless American soccer leagues, and the names that live on from the past are on that trophy. If MLS folds, while unlikely, who is going to care about an MLS Cup? Not sure if you are a Fire fan, but if so you should take pride in the 4 Open Cup trophies you have instead of minimizing their importance.

    MLS Cup isn’t everyone’s top priority, look at what Hans Bakke said this week.

  5. First off, like I already said, most MLS teams don’t even take this tournament seriously and field their “reserve” team. To win the MLS Cup you actually have to beat “REAL” MLS teams that are at full strength. The major difference isn’t marketing, its IMPORTANCE.. Every teams goal is to win the MLS Cup.

  6. Thanks for the snark, but I read and understood the article. What I don’t understand why the automatic berths are based on the regular season standings and don’t take playoffs and championship into account.

  7. Yeah I just checked. In Germany it’s all the Bundesliga teams, all the 2. Bundesliga teams, the 4 best 3rd Liga teams, and 32 regional cup competition winners.

  8. I dunno, but I feel like all MLS teams and all of the USL Pro teams (as well as all the NASL teams) should get entry into the tourney. I mean isn’t how they do domestic cup competitions in Germany, England, France, etc.?

  9. Why? They’re pretty much the same thing, the only major difference is marketing.

    Open Cup is the trophy with history. You have to start hot and finish hot. Not like MLS Cup, where you can suck your way through 34 games and still make the playoffs.

  10. Only one team has the three-peat.

    The long running Greek American.

    Seeeeaaaaaatle Sooooouuunders !

    IF you are going to post, no one else is trying, I don’t care. They should try, so quit rooting for your team and root for the team going for the three in a row !!!!!

    ps. how is it an Open Cup when teams aren’t allowed to play ?

  11. Read the article…
    “Six automatic qualifiers based on the 2010 regular season standings and two qualifiers from a play-in competition that features 10 teams.”

  12. US Open Cup over MLS cup??? Makes no sense considering most MLS teams don’t even play their starters in Open Cup games… Probably why Seattle has won it the last two years.

  13. Let the controversy begin. As a Sounders fan, here is how I prioritize trophies for 2011.

    1. Community Shield
    2. US Open Cup
    3. Champions League
    4. MLS Cup

    I won’t be greedy, we’ll take any two.

  14. They have to find a way to make this more interesting. All U.S. pro teams from MLS to D3 should be eligible from the start. All MLS teams should start in round 1 too, rather than six teams getting automatic buys. It’s foolish to give amateur teams and lower division teams automatic berths but make the rest of MLS qualify. If it’s really an “Open Cup” then make it open, every pro team plays and starts in round 1.


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