photo by George Frey/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The 101st edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will have the largest field of teams that the tournament has ever seen.
U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday the competition format and pairings for the first two rounds of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, which will see a record 80 teams compete. That is an increase from the previous highest total of 68, which was set last year.
The tournament, which has an increase in amateur teams with 42 and pro clubs with 38, will kick off with eight matches on May 7. All Division I, II and III sides will partake in the tournament for the third consecutive year.
A new feature will be the prospect that many pro teams will have to play an early-round Open Cup match on a weekend date (a first in the competition’s modern era). This scheduling opportunity for fourth round games June 14-15 is the result of a league break Division I (Major League Soccer) and II (North American Soccer League) clubs will take during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Here is a full rundown of the tournament dates:
• First Round-May 7 (16 amateur teams: 5 PDL, 4 USASA regional qualifiers, 5 NPSL, 1 US Club Soccer, 1 USSSA): Teams from the same qualifying pool cannot be paired with each other.
• Second Round-May 14 (8 First Round winners, 26 remaining amateur teams [14 PDL, 6 USASA regional qualifiers, 6 NPSL], and 14 Division III [USL PRO] clubs): Teams from the same qualifying pool cannot be paired with each other.
• Third Round-May 28 (24 Second Round winners and 8 Division II [NASL] clubs): Each Division II team will be matched geographically to play the winner of a specific Second Round pairing. The winners of the 16 remaining Second Round matches not paired with a Division II side will play each other.
• Fourth Round-June 10-18 (16 Third Round winners vs. Division I [MLS] clubs): Each Division I team will be matched geographically to play the winner of a specific Third Round pairing. The exact date for each match will be determined by the club selected as the home team from among those dates where the visiting team doesn’t have a league game already scheduled. The date selected must allow the visiting team at least two rest days before and after the match date.
• Fifth Round-June 24-25 (16 Fourth Round winners face each other): Each Fourth Round pair will be matched geographically with another Fourth Round pair to determine the Fifth Round possibilities.
• Quarterfinal (Sixth) Round-July 8-9: Each Fifth Round pair will be matched geographically with another Fifth Round pair to determine the Quarterfinal Round possibilities.
• Semifinal Round-Aug. 12-13: Each Quarterfinal Round pair will be matched geographically with another Quarterfinal Round pair to determine the Semifinal Round possibilities.
• Final-Sept. 30-Oct. 1
What do you think of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup format? Like that it will hold the biggest field of teams in tournament history? Like some of the new rules being implemented?
Share your thoughts below.