CHICAGO (June 18, 2015) – The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the annual knockout competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer and recognized as U.S. Soccer’s national club championship, has introduced a new qualifying process for amateur teams starting with the 2016 competition.
Effective immediately, any team that wishes to participate and belongs to a club or league of any Organization Member of U.S. Soccer, competes in a league with at least four teams where each team plays at least ten league games and meets other criteria, may enter Open Division qualifying (required for all entrants outside of the Division I, II or III professional leagues) by submitting an application form and entry fee to U.S. Soccer headquarters. U.S. Soccer will then arrange matches, process rosters for approval, 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, which will tentatively begin May 11, 2016. Previously, the individual amateur governing bodies (U.S. Adult Soccer Association, US Club Soccer, U.S. Specialty Sports Association, and the USASA-affiliated National Premier Soccer League and Premier Development League) determined their own qualification processes independently of the others.
Open Division qualifying for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will now take place within two tracks:
- National leagues (National Premier Soccer League, Premier Development League): National leagues are eligible to use 2015 league results to determine the clubs advancing to the Open Cup tournament proper, thus bypassing the local qualifying process. All teams in leagues who opt for this qualifying method are required to enter by July 15, 2015, for the 2016 competition. The number of slots allocated to teams from national leagues will be determined after the overall number of clubs registering through the Open Division has been finalized following the local qualifying entry deadline.
- Local qualifying (single-game, knockout basis): Teams not from national leagues and wishing to participate will be required to enter by August 3, 2015, and play Open Cup matches on dates (up to three in the fall, two in the spring) determined by U.S. Soccer. All entrants, regardless of level, Organization Member affiliation, or other attributes, will start on equal footing. Matches will be determined geographically to minimize travel time and expense, with random selection used when practicable to determine exact pairings. Each home team will be responsible for arranging the field of play, security and medical presence, game balls, paying the officials, and other expense relating to staging games, while each visiting team will cover its own travel-related costs. U.S. Soccer shall appoint the match officials.
Some of the projected benefits of the new qualifying process include:
- Giving teams and the larger U.S. Soccer family a clear, identifiable path for reaching the Open Cup tournament proper
- Providing a platform to promote Open Division qualifying to a national audience, allowing the public to follow the entire tournament from start to finish
- Eliminating a major burden from local, state, regional and national amateur administrators to organize competitions at multiple levels
- Minimizing disputes regarding player eligibility, given that roster approval will be handled centrally by U.S. Soccer.
Teams advancing from Open Division qualifying will enter the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the First Round, tentatively scheduled for May 11, 2016. The schedule details for the remainder of the tournament will be confirmed in the fall of 2015.
2016 U.S. Open Cup Competition Calendar
Key Dates in 2015:
Wednesday, July 15 (4 p.m. CT) – Team Entry & Information Form deadline and Entry Fee deadline for Open Division teams in national leagues using 2015 league results to determine their qualifiers
Monday, August 3 (4 p.m. CT) – Team Entry & Information Form deadline and Entry Fee deadline for teams participating through the Open Division local qualifying track
Friday, August 7 (4 p.m. CT) – Venue Declaration Form deadline and Home Game Application deadline for first three qualifying rounds
Monday, August 10 – Preliminary allocation determined for Open Division slots into 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Monday, August 17 – Matchups for first qualifying round and bracket for second and third qualifying rounds announced
Monday, August 24 (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)
Friday, Sept. 4 (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)
Wednesday, Sept. 9 – Player passes received by teams in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states (from Maine to Virginia and West Virginia)
Sept. 12 through Sept. 13 – First qualifying round for teams in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states
Wednesday, Sept. 16 – Player passes received by teams in all other states
Sept. 19 through Sept. 20 – First qualifying round for teams in all other states
Friday, Oct. 9 (4 p.m. CT) – Roster approval/clearance deadline for second and third qualifying rounds
Oct. 17 through Oct. 18 – Second qualifying round for teams in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states
Oct. 24 through Oct 25 – Second qualifying round for teams in all other states
Nov. 14 through Nov 15 – Third qualifying round for teams in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states
Nov. 21 through Nov. 22 – Third qualifying round for teams in all other states
Thursday, Dec. 31 – Team Entry & Information Form deadline and Entry Fee deadline for teams in Division I, II and III professional leagues
Key Dates in 2016:
January date TBD – Final allocation determined for Open Division slots into 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Wednesday, Jan. 6 (4 p.m. CT) – Home Game Application deadline for fourth and fifth qualifying rounds
January date TBD – Matchups for fourth qualifying round and bracket for fifth qualifying round announced
Monday, Feb. 29 (tentative) (4 p.m. CT) – Spring roster submission deadline for teams still alive through the Open Division Local qualifying track (teams may add up to five new players to their Fall roster who are not already cup-tied, 22 player limit remains)
Friday, March 4 (tentative) (4 p.m. CT) – Spring roster approval/clearance deadline for Open Division local qualifiers (rosters for these teams will be frozen through June 30 to include the opening rounds of 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup)
March 12 through March 13 – Fourth qualifying round (dates tentative)
Wednesday, March 23 (tentative) – Venue Declaration Form deadline for teams wishing to host games in 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Friday, April 1 (2 p.m. CT) – Home Game Application deadline for First, Second and Third Rounds of 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (date tentative)
April 16 through April 17 – Fifth qualifying round (dates tentative)
Wednesday, April 20 – 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup First Round pairings and Second Round possible matchups announced (date tentative)
Wednesday, April 27 – Deadline for teams entering at First Round (not including Open Division local qualifiers) to submit initial roster (date tentative)
Wednesday, May 11 – 2016 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 2016
July 1 to July 15 (4 p.m. CT) – Summer roster changeover period for Open Division local qualifiers still in the competition (teams may add up to five new players to their Spring roster who are not already cup-tied, 22 player limit remains)
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