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2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Structure Set

CHICAGO (March 29, 2006) – For the second consecutive year, a total of 42 teams – 26 professional and 16 amateur – will compete in the 2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup when it kicks off in June.

The U.S. Open Cup, which is recognized as U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer.

Qualifying is slated to be completed by May 29, with the pairings announcement expected later that week. The defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy enter the tournament on Aug. 2 in the fourth round. The semifinals will be played Sept. 6, with the final being played on Sept. 27.

The tournament gets underway on June 7 with the qualifying round. Four amateur teams will face off when two of the United States Adult Soccer Association’s regional second-place qualifiers face two second-place teams from the Premier Development League of the United Soccer Leagues.

After the qualifying round, the first round will be played on June 14 with the remaining 12 qualifiers from the USASA and PDL, as well as two USL Second Division teams joining the qualifying winners. The winners of those games advance to the second round to face four teams from the USL Second Division and four from the USL First Division. In the third round, the four remaining USL First Division teams join the fray along with four MLS teams. The final eight MLS teams join in the fourth round.

Within the U.S. Open Cup framework, teams compete in one of the following four categories: professional outdoor Division I (Major League Soccer), Division II (USL First Division) or Division III (USL Second Division); or Amateur Division (USL Premier Development League & U.S. Adult Soccer Association).

The U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament, with games tied after regulation being decided in two 15-minute overtime halves. If neither team scores during the overtime period, the winner is decided on penalty kicks. The team that advances the furthest from each level except Division I earns a $10,000 cash prize. The runner-up takes home $50,000, while the champion collects $100,000. The winner also will have the team’s name engraved on the historic Dewar Cup, the oldest trophy in American team sports that is housed in the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y.

2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule
Qualifying Concludes May 29 Qualifying completed Memorial Day weekend
Qualifying Round June 7 2 PDL vs. 2 USASA Regional Qualifiers
First Round June 14 2 Qualifying Round Winners, 6 PDL vs. 6 USASA Regional Qualifiers, 2 USL Second Division
Second Round June 28 First Round winners vs. 4 USL Second Division, 4 USL First Division
Third Round July 12 Second Round winners vs. 4 USL First Division, 4 MLS
Fourth Round Aug. 2 Third Round winners vs. 8 MLS
Quarterfinals Aug. 23 Fourth Round winners
Semifinals Sept. 6 Quarterfinal winners
Final Sept. 27 Semifinal winners

Composition of participating teams:
12 Major League Soccer
8 United Soccer Leagues First Division
6 United Soccer Leagues Second Division
16 Amateur (8 USL Premier Development League, 8 USASA regional qualifiers)
Total Number of Teams: 42
Total Number of Games: 41


MLS – 12 Teams
For the fourth consecutive year, every MLS team will enter the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The eight MLS teams to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2005 will enter the fourth round of this year’s tournament. The remaining four MLS teams will enter the Open Cup in the third round.

Third Round Teams: CD Chivas USA, Columbus Crew, Kansas City Wizards, Real Salt Lake
Fourth Round Teams: Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls

USL First Division – 8 Teams
All eight U.S. based teams in the USL First Division will participate in the tournament. Teams will enter the tournament based on 2005 regular season league results, with the top four eligible teams entering in the third round. Miami FC, a new club for 2006, will enter in the second round.

Second Round Teams: Charleston Battery, Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Virginia Beach Mariners
Third Round Teams: Atlanta Silverbacks, Portland Timbers, Rochester Raging Rhinos, Seattle Sounders

USL Second Division – 6 Teams (qualifying through May 28)
Six of the nine teams will participate in the tournament. The Charlotte Eagles receive an automatic berth as the defending league champion. In addition, the top five teams, based on point percentage from games played through May 28, qualify for the tournament. Charlotte and the top three qualifiers enter in the second round while the bottom two qualifiers enter in the first round.

Second Round Team: Charlotte Eagles
Eligible Teams for Qualification: Cincinnati Kings, Harrisburg City Islanders, Long Island Rough Riders, New Hampshire Phantoms, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, Western Mass Pioneers, Wilmington Hammerheads

Premier Development League – 8 Teams (qualifying through May 29)
Eight teams will participate from the PDL. The top two teams from each conference based on the results of four pre-designated league games will advance to the tournament. The second-place group finishers from the Eastern and Central Conferences will be drawn to play in the qualifying round against two USASA regional qualifiers. The remaining six will enter in the first round.

USL Second Division/PDL Tiebreakers:
a) Head-to-head record based on total points in Open Cup qualifiers
b) Total wins in the Open Cup qualifying games
c) Goal difference (PDL: +/- 3 goals maximum for each Open Cup qualifier)
d) Goals scored (PDL: +/- 3 goals maximum for each Open Cup qualifier)
e) Lottery conducted by USL

U.S. Adult Soccer Association Regional Qualifiers – 8 Teams (qualifying through May 29)
Eight representatives from the U.S. Adult Soccer Association will also qualify for the 2006 U.S. Open Cup. Two teams qualify from each of the USASA’s four regions (I, II, III & IV), where qualifying tournaments will be staged on a statewide and then regional basis. Six of the qualifying teams will enter the tournament in the first round. The second-place qualifiers from Regions I and II will be geographically paired to second-place qualifiers from the PDL and will play in the qualifying round.