U.S. Soccer Accepting Team Entry Forms for 2018 U.S. Open Cup Qualifying

Entry Deadline for Amateur Teams Seeking to Compete in the Historic Competition is Aug. 14; Open Division Qualifying to be Conducted on Single-Game, Knockout Basis this Fall

CHICAGO (July 28, 2017) - U.S. Soccer is now accepting entry forms from local amateur teams looking to compete in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer’s National Championship. The entry deadline for local qualifying is Aug. 14, 2017, at 2 p.m. CT.

The history-filled annual tournament, entering its 105th year, is perhaps the only high-profile competition in American team sports where amateur sides have the opportunity to face professionals in meaningful competition.

Any team outside of the national amateur leagues (National Premier Soccer League and Premier Development League) or the professional leagues from Division I (Major League Soccer), Division II (North American Soccer League and United Soccer League) and Division III (no leagues operating) may enter Open Division Local Qualifying—as this portion of the competition is called—as long as the team meets basic criteria spelled out in U.S. Soccer’s Open Cup Policy. Among these criteria, teams must belong to a club or league of any Organization Member of U.S. Soccer and compete in a league with at least four teams where each plays at least ten league games during the year. Entry is done by submitting an official application form and entry fee to U.S. Soccer headquarters.

After certifying a team's eligibility to participate, U.S. Soccer will process rosters for approval, arrange matches, appoint match commissioners and officiating crews, administer discipline, promote the games in advance and their results afterwards, and provide a clear link to the final tournament, projected to begin in May 2018.

Open Division Local Qualifying will be conducted on a single-game, knockout basis, with up to three rounds of matches, scheduled for designated weekend dates this fall. All entrants, regardless of level, Organization Member affiliation, or other attributes, will start on equal footing and must be able to host games in every qualifying round. Matches will be determined geographically to minimize travel time and expense, with random selection used when practicable to determine exact pairings. Home teams will be determined by coin flip and will be responsible for arranging the field of play, game balls, paying the officials, and other expenses relating to staging games, while each visiting team will cover its own travel-related costs. U.S. Soccer shall appoint the match officials.

The aforementioned Premier Development League has elected to use the Open Division National Leagues track for qualifying. The PDL will use 2017 league results to determine the clubs that advance to the Open Cup First Round, thus bypassing the local qualifying process. The National Premier Soccer League will be making a determination on this matter shortly.

The final number of 2018 U.S. Open Cup First Round slots allocated to teams from the two Open Division qualifying tracks (Local Qualifying and National Leagues) will be determined in January 2018 after the Division I, II and III professional leagues’ entry deadline of Dec. 29, 2017.

In the 2017 edition of the U.S. Open Cup, amateur powerhouse Christos FC from Maryland, who advanced through two rounds of Open Division Local Qualifying to reach the First Round, put together a run that will resonate with Open Cup fans and players for years. After a shock 1-0 win over the Division II Richmond Kickers in the Second Round, the team named after and sponsored by a discount liquor store suddenly found itself riding a wave of magic, catching the eye of soccer fans everywhere and media outlets around the world and swiftly developing a fan base on its way to a Fourth Round encounter against Division I side D.C. United. The dream of knocking off the “big boys” in the neighborhood seemed even closer after taking a 23rd-minute lead against the three-time Open Cup champions, followed by a wild celebration by nearly half of the standing-room crowd of over 5,000 in attendance. Through 80 minutes, the sides were even. While the more-fit team of professionals scored three times in the closing minutes to make the difference in the final score, participating in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time raised Christos FC’s profile considerably and added another memorable chapter to tournament lore.

2018 U.S. Open Cup Open Division Competition Calendar

KEY DATES IN 2017:
Monday, Aug. 14 (2 p.m. CT) - Team Entry & Information Form deadline and Entry Fee deadline for teams participating through the Open Division Local Qualifying track
Friday, Aug. 18 (2 p.m. CT) - Venue Declaration Form deadline and Home Game Application deadline for first three qualifying rounds
Monday, Aug. 28 - Matchups for first qualifying round and bracket for second and third qualifying rounds announced
Friday, Sept. 1 - Entry Fee deadline for Open Division national leagues who use 2017 league results to determine their qualifiers
Tuesday, Sept. 5 (4 p.m. CT) - Fall roster submission deadline for teams participating through the Open Division Local Qualifying track (22 player limit, no additions allowed after the deadline)
Thursday, Sept. 21 (4 p.m. CT) - Roster approval/clearance deadline for first qualifying round (players must be approved by their team's league and cleared by U.S. Soccer to play)
Sept. 23 - Sept. 24 - First qualifying round
Thursday, Oct. 19 (4 p.m. CT) - Roster approval/clearance deadline for second and third qualifying rounds
Oct. 21 - Oct. 22 - Second qualifying round
Nov. 18 - Nov. 19 - Third qualifying round
Friday, Dec. 29 - Team Entry & Information Form deadline and Entry Fee deadline for teams in Division I, II and III professional leagues

KEY DATES IN 2018:
January date TBD - Final allocation determined for Open Division slots into 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Wednesday, Jan. 10 (2 p.m. CT) - Team Entry & Information Form deadline for Open Division teams who have qualified via 2017 results in national leagues
Wednesday, March 14 - Venue Declaration Form deadline for teams wishing to host games in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Wednesday, March 21 (2 p.m. CT) - Home Game Application deadline for First, Second and Third Rounds of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Wednesday, April 4 - 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup First Round pairings and Second Round possible matchups announced
Wednesday, April 25 - Deadline for teams entering at First Round (not including Open Division Local Qualifiers) to submit initial roster
Wednesday, May 2 (4 p.m. CT) - Spring roster submission deadline for Open Division Local Qualifying teams still competing (each team may add up to seven new players to their Fall roster who are not already cup-tied; 22 player limit remains; rosters for these teams will be frozen through June 30 to include the opening rounds of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup)
Wednesday, May 9 - 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup First Round (date tentative); Dates for remaining rounds of the competition and deadlines to apply to host in these rounds will be determined by January 2018
July 1 - July 13 (4 p.m. CT) - Summer roster changeover period for Open Division Local Qualifiers still in the competition (teams may add up to seven new players to their Spring roster who are not already cup-tied; 22 player limit remains)