After navigating through all of the changes in the U.S. Soccer landscape through the recent Winter months, on Wednesday the United States Soccer Federation finally revealed the details and format — and preliminary schedule for the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The Tournament will begin with the remaining eligible Open Division local qualifiers — including one local club — Tartan Devils FC — advancing directly to the First Round on May 10.
As a result, the tiered-bracket and single-game knockout format will see a modern era record of 99 teams participating this year.
The format will look a little different this year due to the changes at the professional level — namely because there are only two “levels” of professional divisions after The United Soccer League (USL) and the North American Soccer League (NASL) were both awarded provisional Division II status in January.
Each of the league’s eligible teams — including the Pittsburgh Riverhounds – will all enter the competition in the Second Round, scheduled to take place on May 17. The USL will feature 18 teams, while the NASL is submitting six.
The Round 2 winners will play each other in Round 3 on May 31 and the teams that emerge from that will welcome the 19 US-based Major League Soccer teams in the Fourth Round on June 14.
The Riverhounds have already been assured to host a second round game at Highmark Stadium against a first round winner on May 17. One interesting Pittsburgh story line that could develop if the Tartan Devils FC could win its first round match against a selected opponent, they could meet the Riverhounds in the second round.
CLICK HERE TO SEE COVERAGE FROM TARTAN DEVILS FC FIRST EVER OPEN CUP QUALIFYING WIN IN OCTOBER AT ROONEY FIELD
After consecutive appearances to the 4th round of the tournament in 2014 and 2015, when they took on MLS opponents, the Riverhounds stumbled in 2016, in the second round of the Open Cup, losing 2-0 to Landsdowne Bhoys FC, a club with Irish roots based near Yonkers, NY.
TOURNAMENT FORMAT, SCHEDULE AND OTHER KEY DATES:
Initial Pairings Announcement – April 12
• First Round games as well as Second Round possibilities announced.
First Round – May 10
• Number of Games: 28
• Participants: 56 Open Division teams including Pittsburgh area club Tartan Devils FC
• Competition: Teams will be paired geographically with the restriction that teams from the same qualifying pool (e.g. local qualifiers, PDL, NPSL) cannot be paired to play each other.
Second Round – May 17
• Number of Games: 26
• Participants: Winners of 28 First Round games are joined by 24 Division II clubs (6 from NASL, 18 from USL). Pittsburgh Riverhounds will host a second round match.
• Competition: At the time the First Round pairings are made, each Division II team will be matched geographically to a specific First Round pairing and be scheduled to play its winner. The remaining First Round matchups not paired with a Division II side will be paired geographically, with the winners playing each other to complete the round.
Third Round – May 31
• Number of Games: 13
• Participants: Winners of 26 Second Round games will play each other.
• Competition: After each Second Round matchup has been determined, the Second Round pairs will be bracketed geographically to create the Third Round matchups.
Fourth Round – June 14*
• Number of Games: 16
• Participants: Winners from 13 Third Round games are joined by 19 MLS clubs.
• Competition: After each Third Round matchup has been determined, 13 of 19 MLS teams will be paired geographically to a specific Third Round matchup and be scheduled to play these winners, while the remaining six MLS teams will be paired up to complete the bracket.
Round of 16 Draw – June 15
• The Fourth Round winners will be divided geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four, with teams who are precluded from playing each other until the Final per tournament regulations (i.e. pro teams and their affiliated Open Division sides) placed in different groups. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, resulting in a fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Should a precluded pair of teams reach the Semifinal Round and be scheduled to face each other, the matches will be re-drawn after the quarterfinals to avoid this outcome.
Round of 16 – June 28*
• Number of Games: 8
• Fourth Round winners face each other as determined by the Round of 16 Draw.
Quarterfinals – July 11^
Semifinals – Aug. 9*
Final – Sept. 20
* Any game in the Fourth Round, Round of 16 and Semifinal Round where one of the participants has a league game the following Friday will be moved up a day (exception to this is when the team’s opponent is scheduled for a league game the preceding Sunday; in this case, the provisions in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Handbook to determine the match date will prevail). In addition, any game chosen by U.S. Soccer to be broadcast nationally is subject to being moved up a day.