CHICAGO (January 29, 2004) – A total of 40 teams – 24 professional and 16 amateur – will compete in the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as it kicks off during the first week of June. After 34 teams participated in 2003, six additional amateur teams will take part in the tournament this year marking the most total teams since Major League Soccer began participating in 1996.The additional amateur teams will hail from the United States Adult Soccer Association’s regional qualifiers as well as the Premier Development League of the United Soccer Leagues. The four USASA regional champions will be joined by the four runners up in the tournament for the first time, while two additional PDL teams will earn berths to bring the total number of teams representing the PDL to eight.
First-round pairings will be announced on May 25 and the First Round will be played on June 2 & 8. The defending champion Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer) enter the tournament on July 20 in the fourth round. The semifinals will be played Aug. 24 & 25, with the final being played on Sept. 22, almost one month earlier than last year.
The 2004 Open Cup bracketing will be similar to 2003, but with an expanded number of games in the first two rounds. The first round will feature match-ups between USASA teams from the Premier Development League and regional qualifiers. In the second round six teams from the USL Pro Soccer League and two A-League teams join the mix to take on the first round winners. The second round winners will play six more A-League teams and the two non-playoff teams from the 2003 MLS standings (Columbus Crew & Dallas Burn) in the third round. The balance of the MLS teams will face the third round winners in the fourth round before the quarterfinals are set.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. Within the U.S. Open Cup framework, teams shall compete in one of the following four categories: professional outdoor Division I (Major League Soccer), Division II (A-League) or Division III (USL Professional Soccer League); or Amateur Division (USL Premier Development League & U.S. Adult Soccer Association).
The U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament, with drawn games being decided by two 15-minute sudden death (“Golden Goal”) overtime halves. If neither team scores during the two overtime halves, 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.
2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule
Qualifying - Ends May 23*
Pairings Announcement - May 25
First Round - June 2 & 8 Eight USASA regional qualifiers vs. eight PDL teams
Second Round - June 15 First Round winners vs. six USL PSL, two A-League teams
Third Round - June 30 Second Round winners vs. two MLS, six A-League teams
Fourth Round - July 20 Third Round winners vs. remaining eight MLS teams
Quarterfinals - Aug. 4 Fourth Round winners
Semifinals - Aug. 24 & 25 Quarterfinal winners
Final - Sept. 22 Semifinal winners
*Qualifying for USASA Region III does not end until May 31
Composition of participating teams:
10 Major League Soccer
16 USASA (8 PDL, 8 regional qualifiers)
40 Total Teams
2003 U.S. OPEN CUP QUALIFYING BREAKDOWN
MLS – 10 Teams
For the second consecutive year, each MLS team will enter the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Eight MLS squads will enter the fourth round of this year’s tournament based on their 2003 regular season finish in the MLS standings. The remaining two MLS teams (Dallas Burn & Columbus Crew) will enter the Open Cup in the third round. The two squads will not face-off in the third round but may square off against an MLS team in the fourth round depending on the geographical pairings.
A-League – 8 Teams (qualifying through May 23)
Based on the Tournament Format for the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, there will be eight (8) qualification slots for the ten (10) U.S.-based A-League teams. All Primary Qualifiers and the top Secondary Qualifier enter in the Third Round. The two remaining Secondary Qualifiers enter in the Second Round.
The primary qualifiers will be the winners of a two-leg, aggregate goal series predetermined by geography. If the score is tied after the two matches, penalty kicks will determine which teams advance. Those matches are:
Richmond v. Virginia Beach: Fri., April 30 @ Richmond; Sat., May 1 @ Virginia Beach
Charleston v. Atlanta: Sat., May 8 @ Atlanta; Sat., May 15 @ Charleston
Portland v. Seattle : Sat., May 1 @ Portland; Sat., May 15 @ Seattle
Milwaukee v. Minnesota: Fri., May 21 @ Minnesota; Sat., May 22 @ Milwaukee
Rochester v. Syracuse: Fri., May 14 @ Syracuse; Sat., May 22 @ Rochester
The final three qualifiers are secondary and the remaining berths will be allocated as follows.
1) 2003 A-League Champion (Charleston)
2) 2003 A-League Finalist (Minnesota)
3) Non-qualifier with highest Point Percentage (total league points earned divided by total possible league points) in all matches played on or before Sunday May 23rd with at least three league games played
4) Non-qualifier with 2nd highest Point Percentage (total league points earned divided by total possible league points) in all matches played on or before Sunday May 23rd with at least three league games played
5) Non-qualifier with 3rd highest Point Percentage (total league points earned divided by total possible league points) in all matches played on or before Sunday May 23rd with at least three league games played
USL Pro Select League – 6 Teams (qualifying through May 23)
The 2003 USL Pro Soccer League champion Wilmington Hammerheads will join five qualifiers as determined by four designated regular season qualifying matches, two home and two away. The top five teams overall based on total points earned in those games will also enter the tournament.
Premier Development League – 8 Teams (qualifying through May 23)
The 2004 U.S. Open Cup will have eight PDL teams representing the United Soccer Leagues amateur division. All eight teams will face off against USASA regional qualifiers in the first round. The defending champion Cape Cod Crusaders earn an automatic berth, and the seven other teams will qualify based on four regular season games vs. conference opponents. Two berths each will be allotted to the Central, Eastern and Southern Conferences, and the Western Conference gets one spot.
U.S. Adult Soccer Association Regional Qualifiers – 8 Teams (qualifying through May 23 - I, II, IV; May 31 - III)
Eight representatives from the U.S. Adult Soccer Association will also qualify for the first round of the 2004 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. The qualifying teams will be paired up against teams from the PDL squads in the first round, which will be completed on June 2 & 8.