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6. U.S. OPEN CUP: MLS sets qualifying format
January 31st, 2007 1:56AM

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Major League Soccer's 12 U.S.-based clubs will enter the 2007 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, but only eight MLS teams will compete in tournament play.

In past years, the eight MLS teams that advanced to the previous season's MLS Cup playoffs automatically qualified for the U.S. Open Cup's round of 16. This year, the MLS teams that finished in the top three of each conference in 2006 - D.C. United, New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Chivas USA -- will automatically qualify for the round of 16, and the final two berths will be determined by a two-stage play-in among the other six U.S.-based MLS teams.

MLS PLAY-IN
Game A:
Los Angeles at Columbus
Game B: Kansas City at Real Salt Lake
Game C: Los Angeles-Columbus winner vs. New York
Game D: Kansas City-Real Salt Lake winner vs. Colorado
(Game C and D winners advance to U.S. Open Cup's round of 16.)

The eight MLS participants will be joined by 32 teams from the USL's First and Second Divisions and PDL, as well as USASA qualifiers. These lower division teams meet in two preliminary rounds before MLS clubs enter the competition in the round of 16.

U.S. OPEN CUP SCHEDULE:
June 12: First Round - all 32 lower division teams enter tournament
June 26: Second Round - Round 1 winners face off
July 10: Round of 16 - Round 2 winners face eight MLS teams
Aug. 7: Quarterfinals
Sept. 4: Semifinals
Oct. 2: Championship


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