Big Changes To US Open Cup: 64-Teams, Equal Hosting Chances

Big Changes To US Open Cup: 64-Teams, Equal Hosting Chances

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On January 11, 2012
  • 2012 US Open Cup, Features

The US Soccer Federation has approved a major change to the US Open Cup. A change that will certainly enhance how the tournament is played in the US.

The competition will feature a Modern Professional Era (1995-present) record 64 teams, including every US-based professional club in the American soccer pyramid from Major League Soccer (16 teams), the North American Soccer League (6 teams), and USL PRO (10 teams). The remaining 32 spots will be filled by amateur clubs from the Premier Development League (16 teams), United States Adult Soccer Association (9 teams), National Premier Soccer League (6.5 teams), and US Club Soccer (0.5 team). An NPSL club will square off with a representative from US Club Soccer for a spot in the 2012 competition.

Another major change will be in the hosting format. The bidding process has been stripped out through the quarterfinals. Each team can apply to host each round and if both teams’ venues meet USSF’s standards, the federation will conduct a blind draw to determine the host. In the past, in addition to meeting USSF venue standards, teams would have to submit a financial bid, and the team that bid the most was awarded the home game. The old bidding method will still be used for the semifinal and finals of the tournament.

Lastly, another change will be when the competition begins. The first four rounds of the 2012 Open Cup will taking place on consecutive weeks. The tournament will begin on May 15 – the earliest the Open Cup has begun in the Modern Pro Era – with the 32 amateur clubs matching up in geographic fashion.

The winners of those games will move on to Round 2 the following week, May 22, where the 16 NASL and USL PRO clubs will enter.

The week after that, on May 29, Major League Soccer will take on the Second Round winners. With the number of teams, a fourth round will added and will take place June 5. The Cup hasn’t had a fourth round since a four-year run from 2003-06.

Three weeks later, the tournament will hold the Quarterfinals on June 26, followed by the Semifinals on July 10, and the Open Cup Final on either August 7 or 8.