U.S. Soccer formally released the format for the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Thursday, giving fans a glimpse of what is to come in the 106th edition of the world’s third-oldest continuously running open competition.
The competition format remains largely unchanged from last year’s tournament, though USSF has noted that a record 52 of the 84 teams in this year’s tournament are professional clubs. Each round will be a single match, hosted by a randomly determined team provided both clubs’ stadiums meet the necessary venue requirements.
The Seattle Sounders, like the 20 other MLS clubs, will enter in the fourth round of play on June 12, with a draw determining their opponent May 30, one day after the end of the third round.
The Sounders U23s won’t be one of the 10 USL League Two teams to make the cut, as the league decided to use last year’s final tables to determine which teams would get a slot. The U23s finished second behind Canadian club Calgary Foothills FC, excluding them from the competition.
The newly-named Tacoma Defiance are still ineligible for Open Cup play, as are the 12 other teams in the pyramid who are directly operated by a higher-league club.
Fourth qualifying round – April 6-7
First Round draw – April 10
Second Round pairings and possible pairings announced – April 17
First Round – May 7-8 (38 clubs from Open Division and USL League One)
-Teams from same qualifying pool (USL League Two, NPSL, etc.) cannot be paired.
Second Round – May 14-15 (19 first round winners and 25 USL Championship clubs)
-Matches from first round are pre-matched geographically to a specific USL Championship club (before playing the first round). Six remaining USL Championship sides play one another.
Third Round – May 29 (22 second Round winners)
-Second round pairs are bracketed geographically to create third round matchups
Fourth Round draw – May 30
Fourth Round – June 12 (11 third round winners and 21 MLS clubs)
-Teams divided into eight groups of four, placing teams ineligible to face one another (affiliates) into different groups. Each group will have at most two third round winners. A random draw will determine the pairings in each group, at which point the bracket is fixed for the remainder of the tournament.
-Five MLS vs. MLS matches
Round of 16 draw – June 13
Round of 16 – June 18-23 (16 fourth round winners)
Quarterfinals – July 10
Draw for hosting semifinals and finals – July 11
Semifinals – August 7
Final – August 27/28