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2012 US Open Cup Has New Format

2012 January 12
by Brian Quarstad

The 99th Lamar Hunt US Open Cup will sport a new format this season which will included all 1st, 2nd and 3rd division pro men’s teams in the US. It has also changed the rules to allow teams in the first 4 rounds of the competition a 50% chance to host the event if they meet requirements set by the USOC committee.

This year’s U.S. Open Cup includes a 64-team field, which represents the largest in the modern era (1995 to present), eclipsing the previous record of 42 teams set in 2005 and 2006. It also is the largest expansion of teams (24) from a previous year in the competition’s recent history.

The 2012 champion will earn a $100,000 cash prize, while the runner-up will collect $50,000. The top Division II, Division III and amateur clubs will each receive a $10,000 prize. 

2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule: 
April 29: Qualifying deadline
May 15: First Round
May 22: Second Round
May 29: Third Round
June 5: Fourth Round
June 26: Quarterfinals
July 10: Semifinals
Aug. 7 or 8: Final

Participating Professional Teams (32 total)
Major League Soccer (Division I – 16 teams): Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City.

North American Soccer League (Division II – 6 teams): Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Minnesota Stars FC, San Antonio Scorpions, Tampa Bay Rowdies.

USL PRO (Division III – 10 teams): Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions, Harrisburg City Islanders, Los Angeles Blues, Orlando City, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, Wilmington Hammerheads.

Distribution of Amateur-Level Places (32 total):
U.S. Adult Soccer Association Regional Qualifiers – 9 places: USASA regional qualifiers will increase their number of places in the tournament by one compared to 2011.
United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League – 16 places: The PDL will have the largest increase in representation among the amateur leagues since 2011, growing from nine slots.
National Premier Soccer League – 6.5 places: The NPSL is a national amateur league affiliated with the USASA. In previous years, its teams participated via USASA regional qualifying.
US Club Soccer – 0.5 place: U.S. Club Soccer is an organization member of U.S. Soccer.
Note: One team from the National Premier Soccer League will face a US Club Soccer representative for the final place in the tournament. 

See US Soccer for the full press release.


12 Responses
  1. Soccer Boy permalink
    January 13, 2012

    It is great to see the NASL included in this years tourney. It would be great to see a D2 team go deep into the tourney and/or win. Of course it would be even better if the Stars one. I have really enjoyed the Open Cup matches the last couple years as you get to see clubs/teams that you otherwise would not watch. I think that is why I was so bummed last year when D2 was excluded.

  2. Strikers Return permalink
    January 13, 2012

    @soccer boy – With you 100%, well, except for the whole Stars winning it thing. LOL I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the Strikers and the rest of the NASL teams can do in the tournament. Would love to see one, or heck even more than one, of our teams make the same kind of run the Kickers did last year out of D3.

  3. JXU permalink
    January 13, 2012

    I think I like the new format. I’m glad to see all of the U.S. based MLS teams involved. That might help increase the level of prestige of the competition.

    I wonder if MLS teams will still enter at the 3rd round, or if they now enter in the 1st round? And if we’ll still have regional “seeding” in the earlier rounds, or if it will be a random draw?

  4. drebin permalink
    January 13, 2012

    @JXU: All amateur teams play each other in the 1st round. Then, NASL and USLPro teams enter in the 2nd round, followed by MLS in the 3rd round.

    I’m glad for the upgrade and I’m already hoping for bigger improvements the following year to celebrate the centennial edition of the tournament. I like to see more matches available on TV, an official sponsorship, and a bigger cash prize.

  5. Strikers Return permalink
    January 13, 2012

    @drebin – With you on all counts. It will never be as big a deal as MLS Cup, but then the Cups in all the soccer power countries never compare to the league trophies either. So that’s fine. But I agree that these changes do improve the profile, and I think they are great for the lower level teams especially. Chances are we won’t see anymore lower level teams winning the Cup, especially with every MLS team now playing for it each year, but imagine if it did the notoriety it would bring for the lower levels with that title, plus qualification into CCL. Not to mention this is the only current way for the Strikers and Rowdies to wind up in a game that means something against the White Caps, Timbers, Sounders, or Earthquakes! My NASL nostalgia-o-meter is on the rise! LOL

  6. Fotbalist permalink
    January 14, 2012

    I’m with you ‘drebin’, it would be very nice to see more prizes and better sponsorship as well as TV coverage. I’m most excited to see the USLPro and NASL teams facing each other. That’d be great. I think it was a great idea to give the USL PDL more automatic slots since they have assembled such a large structure, but I hope they increase that for NPSL as well. I see them growing quite nicely in the next few years.

  7. Mike permalink
    January 14, 2012

    USL-Pro and NASL teams don’t face each other. No scheduled match-ups anyway. They all play amateur teams in round 2, and winners face MLS opponents in round 3. Only in the highly unlikely event that a team from both leagues in the same bracket each beat an MLS team will such a match occur.

    Considering the still existing bad blood between the two leagues, you can bet that done intentionally.

  8. Ken Jamieson permalink
    January 14, 2012

    Another part of the re-make of the US Open Cup is the random selection of home teams in each round. The USSF is taking a giant leap towards bringing the US Open Cup in line with the FA Cup (although it has a long way to go). One of the enduring charms of the FA Cup is the annual Wembley Final, the US lacks a truly iconic cathederal of soccer, the closest thing it has right now is CenturyLink Field in Seattle, which has hosted the last two Cup Finals to record crowds each year. Perhaps scheduling the final in a soccer made stadium and securing a national TV deal for the game would take the US Open Cup to the next level.
    Now all we need in Canada is for the CSA to expand the Nutrilite Canadian Championships along the lines of the USOC. Given that both tournaments now qualify their winners for CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage, they have to ensure the quality and prestige of its winner.

  9. January 14, 2012

    Dig the changes for the most part, obviously I love the re-inclusion of the NASL teams.

    My only real gripe is that USLPro and NASL teams cannot match up until round 4 at the earliest. I’d love to see either Fort Lauderdale or Tampa Bay take on Orlando, would be a great game with away support at any of the 3 cities. Here’s hoping for an all-Florida final!

    I think a “Wembley”-like venue will never really come about, we have no “national” stadium or traditional home for the game like England does, and you have to consider the distances involved. You can get to Wembley from anywhere in England in like 3 hours, and by train, so it’s relatively easy for fans to get to the game. Here it’s not fair to have a permanent home for the game.

    However on a rotating basis it would be the best way I think. No one would be able to “buy” the home field for the final *cough*Seattle*cough*, and it would be different every year. I think if you move all the leagues’ playoff finales to 2-leg series and then make the USOC Final the big “event” for year it would work well. Take bids like the Super Bowl does for the host city and then make a big deal out of it. ESPN coverage etc. Pump it up. And give it at least one month from the semis to the final so fans can make travel arrangements.

  10. lightstryker permalink
    January 16, 2012

    So do the Internationals represent MN in region 2 qualifiers to try and get a USASA slot?

  11. January 16, 2012

    It’s expensive to play in the competition. We’ve had very few entries in the last number of years. I’ve not heard if anyone has stepped forward to apply.

  12. January 17, 2012

    the same with lightstryker..

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