CHICAGO (Thursday, February 13, 2003) – The 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will kick off in early June and will feature 34 teams from every level of the sport across the United States competing in one of the oldest soccer cup tournaments in the world. Won last year by the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer (MLS), the U.S. Open Cup dates all the way back to 1914.
A format revision in 2003 will see two additional teams compete in the tournament proper compared to 2002, including 10 from MLS, eight from the A-League, six from the USL Pro Select League (USL PSL) of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) and six from the Premier Development League (PDL), also of the USL. Four representatives of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association (USASA) will also compete for the 90-year-old championship.
The first round, played June 4-8, will to include eight teams from both the USASA and the PDL based on a draw that will be held May 28 in the U.S. Soccer House in Chicago, Ill. The second round includes the opening round winners, two USASA or PDL teams that received a first-round draw and six PSL squads on June 25-26. The six second-round victors will then join eight A-League teams and MLS's D.C. United and the MetroStars (as the last-place finishers in the MLS 2002 regular season) in third round play. The remaining eight MLS teams will await the third round survivors in the Open Cup's fourth round (Round of 16).
The 2003 Open Cup geographical bracket pairings for the first and second round will be announced on May 28, two days after the conclusion of qualifying. Bracket pairings for subsequent rounds will be announced after the previous round is completed and will also be geographical. Home teams in each pairing will be determined by competitive bids submitted prior to the U.S. Open Cup pairings in late May. U.S. Soccer will determine the semifinal and final venues as the tournament progresses.
Played under FIFA rules, each Open Cup match will finish with a winner, with tie games going into 30 minutes of sudden-death overtime, and then to penalty kicks, if needed. In 2002, the Crew captured their first domestic championship by claiming the Open Cup crown with a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy, thus qualifying automatically for the 2003 CONCACAF Champions' Cup.
Fox Sports World and Fox Sports en Español, which have broadcast a number of Open Cup matches across the last three years, including the semifinals and championship games, will once again be the official television broadcaster of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2003.
The U.S. Open Cup is recognized as the U.S. Soccer Federation's National Championship and 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 (MLS), Division II (A-League) or Division III (USL PSL); or Amateur Division (USL PDL and the USASA).
2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule
Qualifying (amateur, pro): Ends May 26 - A-League, USL PSL, PDL, USASA
Bracket Announcement: May 28 - 2003 Pairings
First Round: June 4-8 - 8 of 10 USASA and PDL teams
Second Round: June 25 - 6 USL PSL, 4 first-round winners & 2 first-round bye recipients
Third Round: July 16 - 2 MLS, 8 A-League, 6 second-round winners
Fourth Round: August 6 - 8 MLS vs. 8 third-round winners
Quarterfinals: August 27 - 8 fourth-round winners
Semifinals: Sept. 23 & 24 - 4 quarterfinal winners
Finals: Oct. 15 or 22 - 2 semifinal winners
- 2003 U.S. OPEN CUP QUALIFYING BREAKDOWN -
MLS - 10 Teams
For the first time since 2001, 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 2002 regular season finish in the MLS standings. The remaining two MLS teams (D.C. United & the MetroStars) will enter the Open Cup in the third round. The two squads will not face-off in the third round but the winner may square off against an MLS team in the fourth round depending on the geographical pairings.
THIRD ROUND QUALIFIERS
FOURTH ROUND QUALIFIERS
Kansas City Wizards
Los Angeles Galaxy
New England Revolution
San Jose Earthquakes
A-League - 8 Teams (qualifying through May 26)
The newly formed Milwaukee Wave United qualify directly into the 2003 Open Cup as they replace the defunct Milwaukee Rampage, which captured the 2002 A-League crown. The remaining seven qualifiers will be decided based on direct knockout, home-and-away results from seven stand-alone pairings from games that also double as A-League regular season matches. The eight qualifiers will join two MLS teams and six second round winners in the third round on July 16.
THIRD ROUND QUALIFIER
Milwaukee Wave United
to be completed by May 26
USL Pro Select League - 6 Teams (qualifying through May 26)
The 2003 USL Pro Select champion Long Island Rough Riders will join five qualifiers as determined by select 2003 regular-season results. The six qualifiers will be paired against the first round amateur team winners in the second round, scheduled for June 25.
SECOND ROUND QUALIFIER
Long Rough Riders
USL PRO SELECT LEAGUE QUALIFYING
to be completed by May 26
Premier Development League - 6 Teams (qualifying through May 26)
The 2003 U.S Open Cup will have six PDL teams representing the United Soccer Leagues amateur division. None of the PDL teams have pre-qualified for the tournament, thus the six PDL qualifiers will be determined by select 2003 regular-season results.
U.S. Adult Soccer Association - 4 Teams (qualifying through May 26)
Four representatives from the U.S. Adult Soccer Association will also qualify for the 2003 U.S. Open Cup. One team each will qualify from the USASA's four regions (I, II, III & IV), where qualifying tournaments will be staged on a statewide and then regional basis.