The U.S. Soccer Federation announced Wednesday the format for the 102nd edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which will feature a record number of clubs in 2015.
The North American Soccer League (NASL) will be represented by all nine of its U.S.-based clubs: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada FC, Minnesota United FC, New York Cosmos, San Antonio Scorpions, Tampa Bay Rowdies.
“We’re looking forward to the 2015 edition of the U.S. Open Cup,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “It’s a very important competition for all of our players, coaches, and fans. We’ve stated that our collective goal is to win the tournament and maybe this year is the year.”
The NASL clubs will enter the tournament in the third round, which will kick off on May 27. Each club’s third-round opponent will be determined by the results of the second-round matchups between USL PRO clubs and teams from various amateur leagues.
Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs will begin Cup play in the fourth round on June 16 or 17.
In last year’s Cup, six of the eight participating NASL clubs advanced past the third round, with the Silverbacks and RailHawks making it all the way to the quarterfinals. The Silverbacks topped a pair of MLS sides, Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids, and the RailHawks did the same, knocking off Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy.
“We had a great showing last year, with two teams making the quarterfinals,” Peterson said. “Hopefully even more teams will reach that stage or go even further in 2015.”
A total of 91 teams will play for the $250,000 prize this year: 17 from MLS, nine from NASL, 21 from USL PRO, 19 from PDL, 12 from NPSL, 11 from USASA, one from U.S. Club Soccer, and one from USSSA.
U.S. Soccer has implemented a new, geographically-based random draw to determine matches in the round of 16. The 16 fourth-round winners will be divided geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four and a random draw, scheduled for June 18, will determine the pairings within each group in the fifth round.
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