Once again, 40 teams will take aim at being the team to lift the Dewar Challenge Trophy and claim the $100,000 winner’s prize in the final Oct. 5.
However, there will be 17 amateur sides in the first round, one more than has been the case the past few years. The extra spot is available because the USL Second Division includes only six teams this season, rather than seven.
The USL Premier Development League and the US Adult Soccer Association each will continue to have eight berths each, which leaves the total number of teams at 39, one short of the necessary 40. To bring the number to a nice even number, an additional amateur play-in game was added between two California clubs, the Sonoma County Sol and PSA Los Gatos Storm.
The Storm contacted TheCup.us on April 8 asking about how to join the tournament. After passing along the necessary information, most of which was found in the “How to join the US Open Cup” article (found HERE), after some obstacles, they eventually got in touch with the right people and filled out the required paperwork.
The Storm became the first team from US Club Soccer to ever enter in Open Cup qualifying, which is surprising because they are directly affiliated with the US Soccer Federation (a minimum requirement for participating in the tournament). Even though they are a part of the USSF, there is not a procedure in place for them to qualify. Since the USASA and US Club Soccer are essentially competitors, it doesn’t make sense for them to join the Region IV tournament, and since there are no other clubs of their kind to compete against, how else would they get in?
“This situation kind of fell into place for us, and it’s great that it all worked out,” said Neil Buethe, the director of communications for US Soccer. “Hopefully this will encourage more US Club Soccer teams to compete in the future.” Buethe also said that if more US Club teams express interest in competing, then the format for qualifying and the tournament in general would likely have to be re-evaluated and tweaked.
The Open Cup committee decided to reward last year’s NPSL champions (Sonoma County) with a one-game qualifying process against the one team that was in qualifying limbo.
The Sol have qualified for the Open Cup three times in the last five years through USASA Region IV, advancing to the second round of the Open Cup in 2006 and again last year. The Storm plan to join the PDL next year, are playing in the NorCal Premier League this season and their roster includes former NPSL players and two former Major League Soccer players (Stephen Wondolowski, Nick Hatzke).
Thirty-two teams will kick off the tournament June 15 with first-round matches, with all nine US teams in the USSF Division-2 Pro League joining the six USL-2 sides and the 17 amateur teams.
The eight Major League Soccer teams, including defending champion Seattle Sounders FC, again will enter the fray in the third round June 29. An MLS side has won the Open Cup all but one year since the league started in 1996 – the lone exception was the Rochester Raging Rhinos, who won in 1999.
A $50,000 prize will be awarded to the tournament runner-up, while the teams that advance the furthest from each level (USSF D-2, USL-2 and amateur) will receive $10,000 apiece.
May 31: Qualifying deadline
June 15: First round – 32 lower-division teams (USSF D-2, USL-2, amateur)
June 22: Second round – 16 first-round winners
June 29: Third round – Eight second-round winners plus eight MLS teams
July 6 or 7: Quarterfinals – Third-round winners
Aug. 31 or Sept. 1: Semifinals – Quarterfinal winners
Oct. 5: Final – Semifinal winners
Qualifying Update (as of May 3)
Major League Soccer
Win & You’re In: Real Salt Lake at DC United – June 2, 7:30 p.m. – RFK Stadium (Washington D.C.)
New England Revolution at New York Red Bulls – May 12, 8 p.m. – Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)
Win & You’re In: Colorado Rapids at New England/New York winner – Date TBA
Premier Development League