Just after US Soccer announced the return of the provisional sanctioning of division two to the NASL and suspended them for US Open Cup play this season on Valentine’s Day, three days later Soccer House in Chicago announced the structure and schedule for the 2011 edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Once again the setup has remained the same with thirty-two bids in the first round as eleven of them have been given automatically to the third division sides of USL-Pro and the rest of them being fought for as qualifiers for the Premier Development League (PDL), US Adult Soccer Association (USASA) and for the first time ever for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). They will earn their own four places instead of being a part of the USASA in their regional tournament qualifiers.
All round one winners will face each other in round two proper and then advance into round three to face eight Major League Soccer sides. Currently six of the eighteen have won their automatic bids making the top six of the eight team playoffs from last year. Those clubs are defending back to back champions Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake. Once again the rest of Major League Soccer will be fighting it out against each other to qualify for two spots in the third round.
The schedule for this year’s US Open Cup is a little bit better than last year…
Everything was so close together from round 1 proper until the quarterfinals, but finally there is some breathing room. Round 1 will be played on Tuesday, June 14, then round 2 the week after on June 21st, then round 3 the week after on June 28th. The Quarterfinals are played on July 12th, then the Semi-Finals on August 30th. With World Cup Qualifying starting early and the CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage games filling up the calendar in September, the US Open Cup Final will be played on Tuesday October 4th.
So once again round 1 proper will consist of eleven American USL Pro sides who will get automatic bids (Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions, Harrisburg City Islanders, Los Angeles Blues, FC New York, Orlando City S.C., Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos and Wilmington Hammerheads), eight region sides from the USASA, nine sides from the PDL and four sides from the NPSL.
Wait one second. Did I just type nine PDL sides? Why yes I did. When US Soccer announced their structure they said that the PDL this season will have nine sides entering round 1 proper. Currently there are only four conferences with two divisions each in the PDL, how will they create a third division to have those nine sides enter round 1? I guess we will have to wait for the PDL Schedule to come out and get the answer.
So after finding out on Valentine’s Day about the suspension of the five American NASL teams, but three days later hearing that those spots in round 1 will be given to more amateur sides is not so bad. But once again the US Club National Championship has been announced and get ready for some fireworks starting on Tuesday, June 14th which by the way is the day after the group matches of the 2011 Gold Cup.
2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Schedule
Round 1: Tuesday, June 14th
Round 2: Tuesday, June 21st
Round 3: Tuesday, June 28th
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, July 12th
Semi-Finals: Tuesday, August 30th
US Open Cup Championship Final: Tuesday, October 4th