Big changes are coming to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup proper tournament.
Today, the US Soccer Federation has announced the 2020 US Open Cup schedule and format of the competition which will now run from March through September.
To get to the nuts and bolts of how this affects our one local club that will be expected to be competing, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, the Steel Army pretty much broke it down best:
Open Cup TL;DR:
– Hounds will enter in the 2nd round with all other D-2 and 3 clubs
– 2nd round to be played April 7-9
– 2nd round pairings will be announced January 29
– 11 D-1 teams will enter in the 3rd round and the rest in the 4th round
– At least 2 weeks between rounds
— The Steel Army (@SteelArmy) December 12, 2019
Caught up with @RiverhoundsSC Head Coach Bob Lilley tonight. He felt having Open Cup game in April would be beneficial to squad rotation and giving more guys extended game minutes earlier in season. https://t.co/uAaRwlN0lm
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) December 13, 2019
For the first time since 2006, Major League Soccer (MLS) teams will not all enter in the same round of the competition and will instead be split up nearly 50-50 between starting in the Third Round and the Fourth Round. This will result in more matches between MLS and lower division competition over the course of the early rounds of the tournament.
Eleven MLS teams will enter in the Third Round:
- Chicago Fire FC
- Colorado Rapids
- Columbus Crew SC
- FC Cincinnati
- FC Dallas
- Houston Dynamo
- Inter Miami CF
- Nashville SC
- Orlando City SC
- San Jose Earthquakes
- Sporting Kansas City
Twelve MLS teams will enter in Round 4. The four CONCACAF Champions League participants plus the next four best teams each from the Eastern and Western Conference based on the 2019 league standings. For 2020, the 12 MLS teams entering the Fourth Round:
- Atlanta United FC
- D.C. United
- Los Angeles FC
- Los Angeles Galaxy
- Minnesota United FC
- New England Revolution
- New York City FC
- New York Red Bulls
- Philadelphia Union
- Portland Timbers
- Real Salt Lake
- Seattle Sounders FC
The remaining professional teams from Division II (USL Championship) and Division III (USL League One, and NISA) will all enter the Second Round of the competition. The teams will be announced after the professional team deadline of Dec. 31, 2019.
In another major change to the tournament schedule, the First Round will be played on March 24-25, 2020 with all Open Division teams participating.
This includes the Open Division Local teams, and most notably, all of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and USL League Two teams.
This will create a problem because NPSL and USL-2 teams overwhelmingly rely on college players. According to NCAA rules, current college players (excluding seniors who will graduate in the spring) are not allowed to play for an outside team before May 1, unless the game falls during Spring Break or some other school-sanctioned vacation period.
Teams that rely on the use of college players will need to come up with different or additional players to participate in cup competitions. It’s even possible for NPSL and USL League Two teams to play three Open Cup matches before their regular season kicks off in May.
The remaining Open Division teams are the local qualifiers that have already been determined for the First Round next March. The NPSL and USL League Two allocations and qualified teams will be determined on Jan. 9, 2020.
The 13 Local Qualifiers (including the 2019 USASA Amateur Cup Champion Newtown Pride FC)
- Cal FC (USASA/UPSL, California)
- Christos FC (USASA/Maryland Majors Soccer League, Maryland)
- Chula Vista FC (USCS/SoCal Premier League, California)
- FC Boulder Harpos (USSSA/Colorado Premier League, Colorado)
- Louisiana Krewe FC (USASA/Gulf Coast Premier League, Louisiana)
- Miami United FC U23 (USASA/UPSL, Florida)
- Nashville United (USASA/Middle Tennessee Soccer Alliance, Tennessee)
- Newtown Pride FC (USASA/Connecticut Soccer League, Connecticut)
- New York Pancyprian Freedoms (USASA/Cosmopolitan Soccer League, New York)
- NTX Rayados (USASA/North Texas Premier Soccer Association, Texas)
- Olympic Club (USASA/San Francisco Soccer Football League, California)
- Vereinigung Erzgebirge (USASA/United Soccer League of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania)
- Virginia United (ANFEEU/Woodbridge Soccer League, Virginia)
While the entirety of the format of the competition has not been announced by US Soccer, TheCup.us has made a projection on the format and allocation of slots for each league.
2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Competition Schedule
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