U.S. Soccer's plans for modified Open Cup

After being forced to cancel the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in its history, U.S. Soccer plans to go ahead with the 107th edition of the U.S. cup competition but with major limitations.

Instead of the 100 teams entered in 2020, just 24 teams will take part in the 2021 competition:

Enters in Opening Round (16 teams) ...
USL Championship. 8 (24 eligible)
USL League One. 2 (8 eligible)
NISA. 2 (9 eligible)
Open Division. 4 (36 eligible)

Enters in Round of 16 (8 teams) ...
MLS. 8 teams (24 eligible)

The Open Cup was played for 106 years without interruption -- through World War I and World War II -- before being halted without getting started in 2020 after the pandemic hit.

The U.S. Soccer decided it was inadvisable to play in March and April for safety reasons, and other conflicts -- the semifinal and final rounds of the 2021 Concacaf Champions League are scheduled for the fall, and MLS hopes to resume the Leagues Cup in 2021 -- made playing a full schedule impossible.

“In the end," said U.S. Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller, "we all felt a shortened version for this year was the best format and we’re excited to have the opportunity to crown a champion after not being able to in 2020.”

There are still contingencies. The federation's Open Cup committee has set a deadline of March 29 to determine if the opening round can take place on May 4-5. If not, the opening round will be canceled and a deadline of April 19 set to determine whether the Open Cup can take place at all with the round of 16 on May 18-19.

The Open Cup committee has not yet announced the mechanism for determining which teams will take part in the 2021 competition. Waivers will be granted covering Open Cup rules related to a team's recent participation in its affiliated league or the deadline for the release of league schedules.

U.S. Open Cup schedule:
May 4-5 Opening Round
May 18-19 Round of 16
May 25-26 Quarterfinals
June 15-16 Semifinals
June 29 or 30 Final
Note: Dates for confirming opening round and round of 16 are March 29 and April 19, respectively.
5 comments about "U.S. Soccer's plans for modified Open Cup".
  1. R2 Dad, February 9, 2021 at 11:15 p.m.

    I think it's time to decide who this tournament is actually for. The fans? The players? Is it a recruiting tool for clubs? Allocating spots by league lends way too much credence to that format, in a country where leagues are continually blowing up, getting upgraded/downgraded. The Open Cup could become a great showcase for the sport in this country, if anyone ever saw the matches.

  2. Michael Sullivan replied, February 11, 2021 at 7:52 a.m.

    Agreed!

  3. Wallace Wade, February 10, 2021 at 8:29 a.m.

    Why were the teams that actually qualified in 2019 by winning 4 matches against competition from around this Country, told their spots were "guaranteed" for this edition of the Cup? Then, out of the blue they are told that only 4 of these teams will actually compete, and those 4 will be "chosen" by members of the US Open Cup Committee at the Fed? These spots were earned by these Clubs. Does US Soccer understand the difficulties that these Lower League Clubs faced during the last year? They are not backed by Billionaire NFL owners. These Clubs now face the lost revenue of now not being allowed to defend the spot they secured by sporting merit? These spots will be filled by larger Clubs that didn't play even 1 qualifying Round? The Federation needs to look after ALL soccer in this Country! These local Clubs need help! Instead they get this?? Why couldn't all players and staff be tested before each Round? NISA conducted a tournament last summer and followed all professional protocols by testing all players and staff 48 hours before each match. Why can't the US Open Cup do the same? Is there more to the story here? The US Open Cup is the only competition we have that is similar to the format in Europe and the rest of the World. All comers, MLS vs. NPSL vs. Regional League Clubs, let the best team win. Is that really part of the problem here? That's the spirit of this Tournament! Imagine if they did this with the FA Cup!!!!! The MLS is Back tournament was played back in July, but The US Open Cup can't be played correctly "because of Covid"? Lots of questions here. 

  4. Marc Radow replied, February 11, 2021 at 2:47 a.m.

    Monopolies rein apparently.  Too bad for fans, players, and the sport.  More dreams dashed before they can blossom.

  5. Wallace Wade, February 11, 2021 at 7:27 a.m.

    Yep, Marc, too bad for US Soccer. Too bad for millions of players in this Country. Too bad for everyone. 

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