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Restructured U.S. Open Cup format announced, to begin in 2020


The U.S. Open Cup will experience it’s largest structural shakeup in eight years.

U.S. Soccer announced the details of the competition on Thursday, and the new format will allow for more lower division sides to take on Major League Soccer opponents.

A total of 11 Major League soccer teams will enter the competition in the third round, one round earlier than before. The Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, FC Cincinnati, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Inter Miami, Nashville SC, Orlando City, theSan Jose Earthquakes, and Sporting Kansas City will all start their Open Cup runs in the third round with matches held between April 21 and April 23. The remaining sides come in for round of 32 action on May 19 or 20.

Clubs from the second tier United Soccer League Championship and third tier League One and National Independent Soccer Association start their campaigns in the second round while amateur qualifiers from the National Premier Soccer League, USL League Two, and USASA will jump in for the first round.

The competition will allow for potentially 20 lower division sides to play in the round of 32 and will see fewer matchups between two MLS teams in the early rounds.

The competition will begin earlier than ever, as well. The first round will be held on March 24 and 25 with the second round matchups two weeks later, The federation hopes the extended time between rounds will allow home teams more time to sell tickets for their games, leading to larger crowds.

As was the case last season, ESPN will hold the broadcast rights for the entire tournament. Most games can be seen on ESPN+ with the final on one of ESPN’s television networks.

The full list of participating teams, as well as the methodology for early round pairings, will be announced early next month. The deadline for professional teams to apply for sanctioning is December 31, so nothing concrete can come before then.

Atlanta United are the defending U.S. Open Cup Champions. They defeated Minnesota United in last year’s final.


Jan. 9- Pairings methodology, Open Division berth allocation announced
Jan. 22- First Round pairings announced
Jan. 29- Second Round pairings and possible pairings announced
March 24-25- First Round (Open Division teams enter)
April 7-9- Second Round (Division II and III teams enter)
April 10- Third Round Draw
April 21-23- Third Round (11 Division I teams enter)
April 24- Round of 32 Draw
May 19-20- Round of 32 (remaining 12 Division I teams enter)
May 21- Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw
June 10- Possible Round of 16
June 23-24- Round of 16 or Quarterfinals
July 14-15- Quarterfinals or Semifinals
Aug. 11-12- Semifinals or Final
Sept. 22-24- Possible Final

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