US Open Cup 2022: Schedule & when MLS teams will enter

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is scheduled to return in 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday.

MLS teams will enter the 107th edition either in the Third Round or Round of 32, while the domestic cup competition begins March 22-23 and carries through the final in September.

Below is key information for MLS clubs, as well as the entire schedule that’ll follow a single-game, knockout format. Games will be broadcast on ESPN+.

What is the schedule?

The March 22-23 opening represents the earliest start in the Open Cup’s modern era (1995 to present). The expanded tournament calendar allows rounds to occur at least two weeks apart.

All rounds involving professional clubs, including those from MLS, will take place outside of national team call-up periods. This will allow all the top players, barring injury or suspension, to be available for selection for every round.

Here are the key dates, with the 2022 MLS campaign kicking off the weekend of Feb. 26 and carrying through MLS Cup 2022 on Nov. 5. Dates in which MLS teams can compete are bolded.

  • Jan. 6 – Open Division berth allocation announced
  • Jan. 19 – First Round pairings announced
  • Jan. 26 – Second Round pairings and possible pairings announced
  • March 22-23 – First Round (Open Division teams enter)
  • April 5-7 – Second Round (Division II and III teams enter)
  • April 8 – Third Round Draw
  • April 19-21 – Third Round (17 Division I teams enter)
  • April 22 – Round of 32 Draw
  • May 10-11 – Round of 32 (remaining 8 Division I teams enter)
  • May 12 – Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw
  • May 24-25 – Round of 16
  • June 21-22 – Quarterfinals
  • June 23 – Semifinal/Final Hosting Draw
  • July 26-27 – Semifinals
  • Sept. 6-7 or 13-14 – Final
When do MLS teams enter?

The 25 eligible MLS teams are given Division I status. Seventeen teams enter in the Third Round (April 19-21), while the remaining eight MLS clubs join in the Round of 32 (May 10-11).

The latter group includes the four USA entrants to the 2022 Concacaf Champions League and the next two best American regular-season finishers in each of the league’s Eastern and Western Conferences.

Those that enter in the Third Round will need to win six games to lift be crowned Open Cup champions, while those joining in the Round of 32 will need to win five games.

Third Round teams from MLS
Third Round teams from MLS
Eastern Conference
Western Conference
Atlanta United
Austin FC
Charlotte FC
FC Dallas
Chicago Fire FC
Houston Dynamo FC
Columbus Crew
D.C. United
LA Galaxy
FC Cincinnati
Minnesota United FC
Inter Miami CF
Real Salt Lake
New York Red Bulls
San Jose Earthquakes
Orlando City SC
Round of 32 teams from MLS
Round of 32 teams from MLS
Eastern Conference
Western Conference
New England Revolution
Colorado Rapids
New York City FC
Nashville SC
Philadelphia Union
Portland Timbers
Seattle Sounders FC
Sporting Kansas City
What it means

Barring a downturn in the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Open Cup will return for the first time since Atlanta United beat Minnesota United FC in 2019. An MLS team has won the tournament every year since 1999 when the Rochester Rhinos – now rebranded and competing in MLS NEXT Pro as Rochester NY FC – beat the Colorado Rapids.

There's plenty on the line, as the 2022 U.S. Open Cup winner will earn $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League and have their name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy. The runner-up will earn $100,000.

The Open Cup gives managers another competition to juggle alongside the MLS regular season's 34-game schedule. Historically, the deepest teams find the most success in the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States, with professional and amateur teams alike vying for the prize.

Of note: MLS' three Canadian clubs – CF Montréal, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC – instead compete in the Canadian Championship each year.

MLS reserve teams competing in either the USL Championship (Division II) or MLS NEXT Pro (Division III) are not eligible to participate. The exception is St. Louis CITY SC's MLS NEXT Pro team as they don't enter MLS until their 2023 expansion season.