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U.S. Open Cup undergoes major changes

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The 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will much different than any of its predecessors.

U.S. Soccer announced a number of changes for the 99th edition of the tournament. Those changes include a 64-team field (the largest in the modern era), a random selection process for determining home teams from the opening round until the quarterfinals, and the inclusion of all professional teams from the top three divisions, meaning the MLS qualifying bracket is no more.

The Division 1 field will include all 16 U.S.-based MLS clubs, while all six U.S.-based NASL teams and all 10 U.S.-based USL Pro sides are also included. This marks the first time that NASL clubs will participate in America's oldest national soccer tournament.

The other 32 entries will come from amateur clubs from various leagues affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and U.S. Club Soccer.

The first round of the single-elimination tournament begins on May 15 and will ultimately be decided on Aug. 7 or 8. All games are scheduled to be played on Tuesday, except for the final which could be played on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Seattle Sounders are currently the three-time defending champions. Should they win again, they would become the first club in the history of the tournament to win four consecutive.

The winner of the tournament gets a $100,000 cash prize, while the runner-up will earn $50,000. The top teams from Division 2 (NASL), Division 3 (USL Pro) and the amateur level will each receive $10,000. 

Here is the slated schedule for this year's U.S. Open Cup:

April 29: Qualifying deadline 

May 15: First Round 

May 22: Second Round 

May 29: Third Round 

June 5: Fourth Round 

June 26: Quarterfinals 

July 10: Semifinals 

Aug. 7 or 8: Final 


What do you think of the changes? Like them? Prefer last year's set-up?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. No…I love soccer, love everything about it, otherwise I wouldn’t know about this website and check it 50 times a day.

    So it pains me that my country’s league and it’s biggest cup competition aren’t more highly regarded or covered.

    Thus, my tongue in cheek comment. Guess sarcasm doesn’t come through on internet posts very well.

  2. Huh? explain your comment again please… are you asking us to explain what those leagues mean? or are you saying it’s all confusing to you? or something else?

  3. Haha you don’t like the name? I hope you realize this tournament is close to a century old… but I guess that doesn’t matter cause the name makes you laugh… nice.

  4. $100k to the winning club? Seems cheap for a Federation that makes millions per year.

    I like this format better than the previous one. I really like the English FA Cup model of the lower ranked club hosting the match. Although, English non-league clubs have decent stadiums that can house a Premier League team, while a non-league team in the US probably uses the local college stadium?

  5. Don’t sweat it… I hear they’re planningon showing reruns from the 1999 English Carling Cup and infomercials out the wazoo, plus a new talk show featuring Eric Wynalda telling us how things ought to be.

  6. Would be a nice way for Fox Soccer to show some MLS teams on their channel and convince some of us they are still interested in American Soccer instead of Euro leagues.

  7. Quintuple the prize money — at least — and actually advertise. That’s what this competition really needs. Seriously, I can’t believe what a bunch of shortsighted tightwads run this thing.

  8. Very cool to see US Soccer allow our NASL Sides back in. Great to see us compet against some USLPro and MLS clubs. Looks like this year’s tourney moves fast too.

  9. Oh snap. That was clever. I mean, wow, you just nailed us with that. How am I going to face being a fan again?

    Seriously, how douchey do you have to be to go to read a website devoted to an already scoffed at sport in the US and then go scoff at those who actually care about that sport more than you?
    Also, your punctuation is terrible.

  10. The US Open Cup? This is too easy for us to win. We must compete for and win the Emirates Cup again, a REAL cup. US Open Cup? We laugh in your clueless face. HA. HA. HA.

  11. For all those fans complaining about Seattle playing the games at home; if your club had enough fans to make bidding on the games worth their time and effort, they would outbid Seattle. You only have yourself to blame that you can’t fill up a stadium so your team doesn’t take every game seriously.

  12. Hope Fox Soccer picks this up since they do not have the MLS contract they need to fill air time with something, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

  13. Fake US Open Cup play-in matches are gone. Phew. That’s why most MLS teams didn’t care. Four teams had to play 7[!] matches to win the Cup as opposed to six who only had to win 4.

  14. That will never go away until the Sounders dont draw three times what everyone else would….too much money at stake AND there are not teams that would draw cloe to zero…again its is always about the money

  15. Well the Rochester Rhino’s used their US open cup win (way back when) to get a new stadium built but that still took years, and sadly no one goes to the games still.

  16. “a random selection process for determining home teams from the opening round until the quarterfinals”

    Apparently so. Franco, any word on how semi and final venues will be decided? Still a bid system?

  17. Are people critical of the blind-bind system? Because Seattle just buys the home games? I thought people were thanking Seattle for kicking their asses in front of Sounder fans instead of in front of their own fans.

  18. Several steps in the right direction. They didn’t fix everything, granted, but I like seeing that (1) every professional team from USLPRO up participates without the play-in nonsense, (2)that the field expanded to 64 teams, and (3) that they kept the geographical matching model through the inclusion of the MLS sides so that they didnt price out the smaller clubs and amatuer sides. Looking forward to it.

  19. Agreed! The USOC is a great opportunity to promote soccer in non-MLS markets. Really hoping we see some more TV coverage in the coming years.

  20. This adds heaps of legitimacy to the US Open Cup. I hope MLS teams take the tournament more seriously now. More importantly, I hope US Soccer puts money into advertising. 99th year? What?! If that doesn’t merit interest from impartial American soccer fans / Eurosnobs, I don’t know what will.

  21. Cool. Good changes. Now we need to see the games on TV. I had to watch FCD vs. Seattle in the semis last year on my computer. Would be a lot better on TV.

    Looking forward to a great 2012 USOC

  22. Ok…maybe I’m slow…How are the fixtures decided? I see home team will be chosen a random but that doesn’t explain who will play who in round one.

    I do think this sounds better and more **inclusive**

  23. It’s great to have so many teams involved.

    And the change to a random selection process for games is great news. Too bad the closed-bid process resumes from QFs to final. I guess if a D2 or D3 team makes it that far they won’t be playing at home. I wonder if a team like that made it to the final they could put together a viable bid involving a larger stadium in their home area?


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