U.S. Soccer released the 2019 edition of its U.S. Open Cup handbook this week, revealing some interesting changes for the historic tournament.
Among the most notable: A fourth player substitution will now be allowed in matches that go to extra time, allowing for another set of fresh legs to enter play in the late going.
In another significant shift, the federation is making plans for all Open Cup matches to be broadcast, so host venues will now be required to have additional staff in place to support this, including a broadcast operations manager and an electrician. It’s also prompting adjustments to commercial rights in the tournament’s early rounds.
The details of the new broadcasting arrangement have not yet been released, but an announcement is expected soon.
Open to all levels of the American soccer pyramid from amateur to MLS, the 2019 Open Cup is slated to include the largest number of pro teams in its modern history with 52 slots. MLS teams have won all but one edition of the tournament since the league’s inception in 1996, with the Houston Dynamo the current trophy holders after defeating the Philadelphia Union in last year’s final.
The final qualifying stages of the 2019 Open Cup take place next month, with the tournament proper kicking off in May. The 21 US-based MLS teams enter in the fourth round, which is set to begin on June 12.
The 2019 USOC handbook can be read in full here; this year’s policy changes are listed on page 4.