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2014 U.S. Open Cup to feature largest group of teams in tournament history


photo by George Frey/


The 101st edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will have the largest field of teams that the tournament has ever seen.

U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday the competition format and pairings for the first two rounds of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, which will see a record 80 teams compete. That is an increase from the previous highest total of 68, which was set last year.

The tournament, which has an increase in amateur teams with 42 and pro clubs with 38, will kick off with eight matches on May 7. All Division I, II and III sides will partake in the tournament for the third consecutive year.

A new feature will be the prospect that many pro teams will have to play an early-round Open Cup match on a weekend date (a first in the competition’s modern era). This scheduling opportunity for fourth round games June 14-15 is the result of a league break Division I (Major League Soccer) and II (North American Soccer League) clubs will take during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Here is a full rundown of the tournament dates:

• First Round-May 7 (16 amateur teams: 5 PDL, 4 USASA regional qualifiers, 5 NPSL, 1 US Club Soccer, 1 USSSA): Teams from the same qualifying pool cannot be paired with each other.

• Second Round-May 14 (8 First Round winners, 26 remaining amateur teams [14 PDL, 6 USASA regional qualifiers, 6 NPSL], and 14 Division III [USL PRO] clubs): Teams from the same qualifying pool cannot be paired with each other.

• Third Round-May 28 (24 Second Round winners and 8 Division II [NASL] clubs): Each Division II team will be matched geographically to play the winner of a specific Second Round pairing. The winners of the 16 remaining Second Round matches not paired with a    Division II side will play each other.

• Fourth Round-June 10-18 (16 Third Round winners vs. Division I [MLS] clubs): Each Division I team will be matched geographically to play the winner of a specific Third Round pairing. The exact date for each match will be determined by the club selected as the home team from among those dates where the visiting team doesn’t have a league game already scheduled. The date selected must allow the visiting team at least two rest days before and after the match date.

• Fifth Round-June 24-25 (16 Fourth Round winners face each other): Each Fourth Round pair will be matched geographically with another Fourth Round pair to determine the Fifth Round possibilities.

• Quarterfinal (Sixth) Round-July 8-9: Each Fifth Round pair will be matched geographically with another Fifth Round pair to determine the Quarterfinal Round possibilities.

• Semifinal Round-Aug. 12-13: Each Quarterfinal Round pair will be matched geographically with another Quarterfinal Round pair to determine the Semifinal Round possibilities.

• Final-Sept. 30-Oct. 1


What do you think of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup format? Like that it will hold the biggest field of teams in tournament history? Like some of the new rules being implemented?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. So excited. This is the oldest and most distinguished cup in US history. I can’t wait for the 2015 edition, when Louisville’s USL team will be competing. We will pack our park!

  2. Not to demean the Open Cup, which is fine, but I would hope that someday we have something like a League Cup. Maybe eventually MLS, NASL and USL will be merged into MLS 1, 2 and 3 and only the pro teams will compete, even the Canadian ones. And then we can have promotion and relegation. Nah. Never gonna happen.

      • Would be cool though. We could have a 20 team first division, 18 in the second and 16 in the third. 54 pro teams in the US and Canada with promotion and relegation. The League Cup would give 10 teams a first round bye. The other 44 play down to 22 and then add the 10 bye teams for 32 teams straight knockout.

      • The only way I can think of is to have like 5 guest slots of Lower dev teams getting to play in the MlS. And have 2 of the 5 relegated every year. It would be some wierd mini league but….

        MLS owners arent giving up the first division. But they might let someone piggy back. Our system is already wierd enough by having playoffs. Lets make it more convoluted why not.

      • A league cup is more realistic than pro/rel. I can see MLS, NASL, and USL Pro competing against one another, especially now that USL Pro is increasing in quality with MLS loanees.

        Maybe by 2020 we’ll see:
        24 MLS teams
        16 NASL teams
        16 USL Pro teams

        That’s enough for a mini tourney.

      • in order to have pro/rel wouldn’t every NASL and USL team have to have a stadium that held at least 15,000 and owners who could afford at least 5-10 million dollar team salaries plus larger front office staff, etc…?

    • Keep in mind, the League Cup in England (currently known as the Capital One Cup) is of LESSER history and importance than the FA Cup. The US Open Cup is over 100 years old, full of the rich history of soccer in our country. The only difference between the League Cup you’re proposing and the US Open Cup as it is now is that the amateur teams wouldn’t be playing. So, it would be a competition without the history of the US Open Cup without any new improvements/benefits.

      Much better, IMO, would be working on getting a TV deal for the later rounds of the USOC. We could then spotlight its history, doing some 30 for 30 docs on Bethlehem Steel, Maccabi Los Angeles, etc.That would be baller.

      But yes, I would love to see Cosmos or Indy 11 make a deep run in the cup. Barring that, an MLS team whose fan base will cherish it!

    • Bring it!!

      I would love to see NASL win the Open Cup this year. I’m sick of MLS coaches not taking it seriously.

      I think this is a highly underrated competition that deserves much more attention than it gets. NASL having something to hang over the heads of MLS would certainly up the ante and give everyone a little more motivation to do well in the tournament.

      • MLS coaches get fired based on poor MLS performance. Until that changes I don’t see MLS coaches taking the open cup seriously.

      • MLS will come up with some lame excuse like they always do for losing. They always lose the All-Star game because they don’t take it seriously. They can’t win Champions League because of the travel. They already get a huge break in this competition yet te Bruce Arenas of the world will still bitch about it.

  3. I can picture NASL telling team owners, if one of NASL teams win the cup, will give u a free vacation any where in the world and a huge bonus 🙂
    As for cosmos, they r gonna be a scary team to face 🙂 cosmos is just a big name in American soccer, the more we deny it, it just grows every year, enough to grab attention.
    It’s like when river plate went to the division 2 in Argentina and all those big name teams now playing in division 2, the name will scare you and the team will grow for respect.

  4. Very good, difficult task scheduling this with so many teams coming and going across all of levels of USSoccer. I like the idea of scheduling the bulk of the games during fifa breaks; keeps MLS/NASL schedules less complicated. Players involved in WC/Gold Cup/other summer tournaments will be back for the SF’s and Final.

    Good stuff USOC, looking forward to it this year.

    • Since the amount of participating teams seems controlled, the idea of a record is kind of dubious. If March Madness let in more teams that would be a record of sorts, too.

      It bears noting that in USOC you qualify by being good and participation is essentially required of the pro teams, while in England it’s voluntary and everyone can enter (but sometimes teams like ManU decline). If what we want is more teams, just let every entry in that meets some sort of standard.

  5. ” Fourth Round-June 10-18 (16 Third Round winners vs. Division I [MLS] clubs):”

    Good thing there are only 16 MLS clubs.


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