Record entrants expected for 2022 U.S. Open Cup

At least 100 teams are expected to take part in the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the most in the competition's modern era. The modern record is 99 teams that competed in 2017. The 2020 competition had 100 entrants but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The exact number of entrants in 2022 -- the competition's 107th edition -- won't be known until the confirmation of pro entrants by the Dec. 31 deadline.

In the fall, 87 teams took part in the local qualifying process from which 11 teams advanced to the 2022 Open Cup. (Five other teams entered but forfeited due to issues related to the registration of players.)

On Tuesday, U.S. Soccer's Open Cup Committee met to approve the competition format and set the round of entry for each division.

MLS has expanded so much that 17 of its 25 U.S. clubs will enter in the third round, one round earlier than MLS teams entered in 2019, the last year the competition was held. The remaining eight teams will begin play in the round of 32.

For the first time, pro teams from NISA and MLS Next Pro, which launches in 2022, will be entered in the Open Cup. The exact number of spots left to fill in the Open Division for NPSL and USL League Two amateur teams will depend of the confirmation of pro entrants. The USL Championship (Division II) and USL League One and MLS Next Pro (Division III) have confirmed their 2022 alignments. NISA has yet to confirm its alignment for the spring portion of its 2021-22 season.

Teams majority-owned or otherwise controlled by a higher division pro club are not allowed to compete. That excludes 21 MLS second teams that will operate in the United States in 2022. In a twist, St. Louis City SC, which will enter MLS in 2023, will be allowed to enter its new second team in the Open Cup.

Another change for 2022 : All rounds involving pro teams will take place outside of international windows.

Open Division teams will begin play on March 22-23 -- during the March international window -- marking the earliest start in the modern era. U.S. Soccer intended to start the 2020 Open Cup in March. That early start prompted several NPSL and USL League Two teams to pull out because they would not have been able to field college players on whom they depended.

The 2020 and 2021 Open Cups were both cancelled. Atlanta United captured the trophy in 2019 (photo) with a 2-1 win over Minnesota United before a crowd of 35,709.

Viewing: All Open Cup matches will again air on ESPN+ in 2022.

2022  Entrants:
First round ...
Open Division:
-- Local Qualifiers (11):

East Region: Brockton FC United (Mass.), Lynchburg FC (Va.), Nova FC (Va.), Oyster Bay United FC (N.Y.).
Southeast Region: City Soccer FC (Fla.), Orlando FC Wolves (Fla.).
Central Region: Azteca FC (Colo.), D'Feeters Kicks SC (Texas).
West Region: Contra Costa FC (Calif.), Escondido FC (Calif.), San Fernando Valley FC (Calif.).
-- USASA National Amateur Cup champion (1): Lansdowne Yonkers FC (N.Y.).
-- NPSL (TBD): To be named after confirmation of the Open Division berths available.
-- USL League Two (TBD): To be named after confirmation of the Open Division berths available.

Second round (31 games) ...
Division II:
-- USL Championship (23): Birmingham Legion, Charleston Battery, Detroit City FC, Hartford Athletic, Indy Eleven, Louisville City, Memphis 901, Miami FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Tampa Bay Rowdies, FC Tulsa, Colorado Springs Switchbacks, El Paso Locomotive, Las Vegas Lights, Monterey Bay FC, New Mexico United, Oakland Roots, Orange County SC, Phoenix Rising, Rio Grande Valley, Sac Republic FC, San Antonio FC, San Diego Loyal.
Division III:
-- USL League One (11): Union Omaha, Greenville Triumph, Chattanooga Red Wolves, FC Tucson, Richmond Kickers, Forward Madison FC, South Georgia Tormenta FC, North Carolina FC, Central Valley Fuego, Northern Colorado Hailstorm, Charlotte Independence.
-- *NISA (13): Albion San Diego, California United Strikers, Chattanooga FC, Chicago House, Los Angeles Force, Maryland Bobcats, Michigan Stars, New Amsterdam FC, Stumptown AC, AC Syracuse Pulse, Bay Cities FC, Flower City Union, Valley United FC.
-- MLS Next Pro (2): Rochester NY FC, St. Louis City SC.
+ First-Round winners (13).
*The pro team confirmation deadline for 2022 Open Cup entrants is Dec. 31.

Third round (24 games) ...
Division I:
-- MLS (17):
Atlanta United FC, Austin FC, Charlotte FC, Chicago Fire FC, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Cincinnati, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Inter Miami CF, Los Angeles FC, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes.
+ Second-Round winners (31).

Round of 32 (16 games) ...
Division I:
MLS (8):
Colorado Rapids, Nashville SC, New England Revolution, New York City FC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City
+ Third-Round winners (24).

2022  Schedule:
March 22-23. First Round (Open Division teams enter)
April 5-7. Second Round (Division II and III teams enter)
April 19-21. Third Round (17 Division I teams enter)
May 10-11. Round of 32 (remaining 8 Division I teams enter)
May 24-25. Round of 16
June 21-22. Quarterfinals
July 26-27. Semifinals
Sept. 6-7 or 13-14. Final

6 comments about "Record entrants expected for 2022 U.S. Open Cup".
  1. Wallace Wade, December 23, 2021 at 10:24 a.m.

    Does anyone really believe that MLS Franchises will actually participate in this tournament? I don't. Given the recent decisions made by tournament organizers, I really doubt most of the fixtures even get played. 

  2. Harry Oei, December 23, 2021 at 12:26 p.m.

    Has there ever been a US Open Cup for women's teams? If not, why not? I wonder if it's more than simply lack of demand from fans and teams.

  3. frank schoon replied, December 24, 2021 at 10:40 a.m.

    I heard that the U12 are also entering....

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, December 26, 2021 at 2:51 a.m.

    Open means open. Not open to only men. If it is open just to men, then it isn't really an open tournament.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, December 26, 2021 at 2:53 a.m.

    Last time I looked USSF rules defined male teams to allow both male and female players. Female teams were defined to exclude males.

  6. Richard Groff, December 24, 2021 at 11:02 a.m.

    All 92 teams that entered last fall , to select 11 teams,  paid the Lamar Hunt Open Cup Fee and filed the Lamar Hunt application. They entered the Lamar Hunt Open Cup.
    Participation for 2022 will be over 200 teams. 
    Last fall was the actual early rounds and next spring will be additional rounds that include both additional amateur and professional teams.
    Lamar Hunt Open Cup continues to grow and the near future may see 200 amateur teams and 100 professional teams entered into the Cup. A great tradition for US Soccer.

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