The U.S. Soccer Federation announced this week it had finalized the format and schedule for the 106th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC is set kick off in the First Round of the competition from May 7-8. The 2019 tournament features a total of 84 teams from all levels, culminating in August with America’s soccer champion lifting the Open Cup trophy after eight rounds of single elimination play.
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC will join the First Round alongside a total of 32 Open Division teams. As a member of USL League One, recently sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) as a Professional division, Chattanooga Red Wolves SC and five other eligible League One clubs are automatically granted participation in the First Round. The other League One teams include Forward Madison FC, Greenville Triumph SC, Lansing Ignite FC, Richmond Kickers and South Georgia Tormenta FC.
Twenty-five teams from the newly-renamed professional Division II USL Championship (formerly the United Soccer League) will take the field starting in the Second Round on May 14-15.
The Third Round takes place on May 29, and its winners will be joined by the 21 U.S.-based Division I Major League Soccer clubs in the Fourth Round on June 12.
In another indication of the unprecedented growth of professional soccer in the United States, 52 pro teams – a modern-era record (1995 to present) – will play in this year’s competition. The previous record was 47, set in 2015.
Chattanooga will learn its opponent when the First Round pairings are announced on April 10. Home teams will be determined by random selection among those who apply to host. Clubs whose venue meets minimum tournament standards will be given priority. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC is planning to submit a bid to host the first round match.
The 2019 U.S. Open Cup winner will earn $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League and have its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy – one of the oldest nationally-contested trophies in American team sports – now on display at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas. The runner-up will earn $100,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will take home a $25,000 cash prize.
Each round will be conducted in a single-game-knockout format, with matches that are tied after 90 minutes of regulation time proceeding to a full 30 minutes of extra time. If still tied after 120 minutes, the team to advance will be determined by kicks from the penalty mark.
Home teams will be determined by random selection among those who apply to host. Clubs whose venue meets minimum tournament standards will be given priority.
The Open Cup Committee has determined the teams that are not permitted to be matched to each other throughout the tournament (e.g. an Open Division team and a parent club; a team who receives material technical support from another club) except in the unlikely event that both sides reach the Final. These pairings are: New York Red Bulls (MLS) and New York Red Bulls U23 (USL League Two); South Georgia Tormenta FC (USL League One) and South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (USL League Two); and San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) and Reno 1868 FC (USL Championship).
Professional teams who are majority-owned or otherwise controlled by higher division professional clubs are expressly excluded from Open Cup competition. For 2019, there are 13 such teams. From USL Championship (10): ATL UTD 2, Bethlehem Steel FC, LA Galaxy II, Loudoun United FC; New York Red Bulls II, Portland Timbers 2, Real Monarchs SLC, Rio Grande Valley FC, Swope Park Rangers and Tacoma Defiance (known in 2018 as Seattle Sounders FC 2); from USL League One (3): FC Tucson, North Texas SC and Orlando City B.
The draw for the First Round of the tournament will be held on April 10 and for the Second Round on April 17. For more details on the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, visit USSoccer.com.