U.S. Soccer releases Open Cup schedule
which will feature all 12 Major League Soccer teams -- is scheduled to begin in June, U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday. The tournament is the oldest in U.S. team sports and has been won by an MLS team in every year but one since the league's inception in 1996, with the Kansas City Wizards capturing the Dewar Cup as U.S. Open Cup champion in 2004.
Major League Soccer's two expansion teams -- Real Salt Lake and CD Chivas USA -- bring the total number of teams participating in the knockout tournament to 42, the highest since MLS teams began participating. Those two sides, along with FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire (the two MLS teams that failed to make the MLS Cup playoffs in 2004) will enter the competition in the third round. The remaining eight MLS squads will join the festivities in the fourth round.
The tournament will kick off in early June after qualifying games between lower-division teams are completed. The opening round draw is scheduled for June 1. About six weeks later, on July 13, MLS participation begins as the third round commences. The bulk of the MLS teams will begin play on Aug. 24 when the fourth round will begin, and a new Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion will be crowned at the U.S. Open Cup Final on Sept. 28.
Aside from prestige that comes from capturing the title, cash prizes are also on the line for competing clubs. The champion collects $100,000, while the runners-up take home $50,000. Additionally, the team that advances the furthest from each level other than Division I (MLS) also earns $10,000.
The Chicago Fire, who lost to the Wizards in last year's final at Arrowhead Stadium, is the only MLS team to have won the Open Cup on multiple occasions (1998, 2000 and 2003). The Columbus Crew (2002), Los Angeles Galaxy (2001), Dallas Burn (1997) and D.C. United (1996) are the other MLS teams to have captured the Open Cup in its 91-year history, with the then A-League Rochester Rhinos the only non-MLS team to claim the title since the existence of the league (1999).
2005 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule
Qualifying Concludes -- May 30 Qualifying completed Memorial Day weekend
Pairings Announcement -- June 1
June 8 -- 2 PDL vs. 2 USASA Regional Qualifiers
June 15 -- 2 Qualifying Round Winners, 6 PDL, 6 USASA Regional Qualifiers, 2 USL Second Division
June 29 -- First Round winners vs. 4 USL Second Division; 4 USL First Division
July 13 -- Second Round winners vs. 4 USL First Division, 4 MLS
Aug. 3 -- Third Round winners vs. 8 MLS
Aug. 24 -- Fourth Round winners
Sept. 14 -- Quarterfinal winners
Sept. 28 -- Semifinal winners
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.