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U.S. Open Cup unveils new format with record number of teams



The U.S. Open Cup is back with a bigger field and what should be a better format.

When the tournament returns in the spring, it will see the field increase from last year’s 80 teams to 91 teams, the most the annual event has seen in the modern iteration of the tournament, U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday as it unveiled the list of teams.

With the massive number of participating clubs from around the country, the competition will now include geographic regions as part of a new Round of 16 draw for the fifth round. The top 16 teams will be divided geographically and drawn into fixtures and the top two teams in each group will then face off in the quarterfinals of the Open Cup.

Also, the tournament will take geographic location into consideration from the beginning, with some restrictions preventing parent clubs from playing other affiliated clubs or other conflicts of interest.

The competition will include 17 teams from Major League Soccer, which enter in the fourth round, nine from the North American Soccer League, which enter in the third round, and 21 from USL Pro, which enter in the second round.

On the amateur side, which will start off in the first round, the field includes 19 teams from the Premier Development League, 11 from U.S. Adult Soccer Association qualifying and 12 from the National Premier Soccer League.

The tournament will start with its first matches running from April 22-26. A winner will be crowned either Sept. 29 or 30.

The winner will earn $250,000 and a berth in the CONCACAF’s Champions League while the runner-up earns $60,000. The team that advances furthest from a lower division side earns a $15,000 prize.


What do you think of this new format and the expanded field of teams? Any match-ups you’re already looking forward to?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Best tournament in the country. Some of those NASL v MLS matches are downright scorchers.

  2. The US Open is the most important soccer tournament in this country as far a developing the game and players for the future. Hopefully the nascent soccer fans embrace the event rather than mock it and realize how vital it is to the growth of the game.

    Unfortunately powers that be at MLS do their best to not embrace the tournament as they fear it might provide attention and revenue to teams from outside of the MLS monopoly.

      • I believe there are still some MLS teams that are paying cable companies locally to show their teams. Just because the games are on TV doesn’t mean they are getting the big bucks. There just isn’t a large enough television audience for MLS Open Cup at this time I would bet.

        “The deal includes shared digital content between the Fire’s official site and CSN. The team will also have more of a presence in nightly recap programming. The good news comes at a price however since the Fire are still paying for air time to broadcast matches although a successful stint featuring a team that wins and draws viewers could very well change that dynamic three years from now.”

    • “This year’s winner will earn $250,000…The runner-up will take home $60,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will earn a $15,000 cash prize.”

      i believe this is about the same as last year, but the last one was $10k previously, can anyone confirm? if so thats a nice win for a handful of low div teams.


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