Sounders 2014 US Open Cup run will start in Fourth Round

Quest For Four - Otto Greule Jr

US Soccer released the schedule for the 101st Lamar Hunt US Open Cup today. It is the largest field in the modern era with 80 total teams with 38 of those being pro sides.

The most significant news from today's release is not the number of teams participating, nor that MLS teams will start during the Fourth Round. More significantly is that the 2014 US Open Cup will have a full three rounds during the World Cup with that Fourth Round including the possibility of weekend games as MLS and the NASL will suspend league play during the tournament in Brazil. Those that want to raise the bar of the Open Cup will see some hosts with the opportunity to put the national cup tournament on a weekend date with two-and-a-half weeks to sell the game.

Fourth Round-June 10-18 (16 Third Round winners vs. Division I [MLS] clubs): Each Division I team will be matched geographically to play the winner of a specific Third Round pairing. The exact date for each match will be determined by the club selected as the home team from among those dates where the visiting team doesn't have a league game already scheduled. The date selected must allow the visiting team at least two rest days before and after the match date.

Seattle Sounders FC will attempt to earn their fourth Dewar Trophy. From 2009 to 2011 they made history winning three times in a row (that ties Greek American AA). The Chicago Fire are the only MLS side with 4 Open Cup titles. Only six total teams have four or more wins with Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles holding five trophies.

As in previous years the USSF will try to maximize regional play. There is still the issue of a limited number of non-pro teams in the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones. A total of five Second Round matches take place in the West with seven MLS sides in the region that take part. It is likely that a couple of those teams will again have to play against southern teams.

As last year hosting rights are a blind draw between teams that meet stadium standards and put forward a small fee. Teams with lower division affiliates are barred from facing those teams until the final. This will impact New York, KC, Portland, Philadelphia, Columbus, LA, Houston, New England, DC and San Jose. That gives Seattle a slightly better chance of not traveling.

The Open Cup starts on May 7th with the First Round. The Second Round takes place the next week (mostly on May 14th). At that point the next four rounds have two weeks between game days with Semifinals being a month after the Quarters and a month later the Final.

Seattle Sounders FC and MLS teams should learn their potential Fourth Round opponents in mid-May.

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