Five years ago the New England Revolution won their first major title: the 2007 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Since then, the team’s participation in the 98-year-old tournament has been less than memorable.
The Revs fell in the semifinals in 2008, lost in the third round in 2009 and failed to qualify for the competition the past two seasons. Now, after one of the worst seasons in team history, the Revs won’t have to worry about qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open Cup thanks to a change in the tournament’s format.
For the first time all Division I, II and III professional clubs will participate in the tournament without having to qualify. That means the Revs – as well as the 16 other American based MLS teams and teams in the NASL and USL-Pro – will automatically have a spot in tournament. The tournament will feature 64 teams, the largest field ever, increasing from 40 clubs last year.
The tournament’s hosting process will also change, with hosts being randomly selected – rather than based on a bidding process as it was in the past – until the quarterfinals of the competition. Additionally, all matches will take place on a Tuesday this year. First round action begins on May 15th, while MLS clubs enter the competition in the third round on May 29th.
Match-ups in the early rounds will be based on geographic basis, meaning should the MPS Portland Phoenix (PDL), the lone other New England team currently qualified for the tournament, advance to the third round, they would be the likely Revs’ opponent.
In addition to winning the U.S. Open Cup in 2007, the Revs reached the final in 2001, marking their first appearance in a championship match.
The Seattle Sounders have won the past three U.S. Open Cup titles. The 2012 champion will earn a $100,000 cash prize, while the runner-up will collect $50,000. The top Division II, Division III and amateur clubs will each receive a $10,000 prize.
2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule:
April 29: Qualifying deadline
May 15: First Round
May 22: Second Round
May 29: Third Round
June 5: Fourth Round
June 26: Quarterfinals
July 10: Semifinals
Aug. 7 or 8: Final
Participating Professional Teams (32 total)
Major League Soccer (Division I – 16 teams): Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City.
North American Soccer League (Division II – 6 teams): Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, NSC Minnesota Stars, San Antonio Scorpions, Tampa Bay Rowdies.
USL PRO (Division III – 10 teams): Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions, Harrisburg City Islanders, Los Angeles Blues, Orlando City, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, Wilmington Hammerheads.
Distribution of Amateur-Level Places (32 total):
U.S. Adult Soccer Association Regional Qualifiers – 9 places: USASA regional qualifiers will increase their number of places in the tournament by one compared to 2011.
United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League – 16 places: The PDL will have the largest increase in representation among the amateur leagues since 2011, growing from nine slots.
National Premier Soccer League – 6.5 places: The NPSL is a national amateur league affiliated with the USASA. In previous years, its teams participated via USASA regional qualifying.
US Club Soccer – 0.5 place: U.S. Club Soccer is an organization member of U.S. Soccer.
Note: One team from the National Premier Soccer League will face a US Club Soccer representative for the final place in the tournament.