U.S. Open Cup eliminates 1st round, reduces field to 16 teams
New York, March 29, 2021 (AFP) - Eight Major League Soccer squads will be among 16 teams to compete in this year's US Open Cup, organizers said Monday after trimming the field due to Covid-19 concerns.
The 107th edition of the US Soccer Federation event will now begin May 18-19 after a planned May 4-5 opening round involving pro and amateur clubs was wiped out over health concerns.
"It became clear that the difficulties of staging the opening round given the current environment made the decision to not play the correct one, as we will always prioritize the health and safety of the players and staff first," US Open Cup commissioner Paul Marstaller said.
"We'll continue to monitor the situation and hope for more positive news in three weeks as it relates to the round of 16."
A release announcing the change said if conditions for holding the round of 16 cannot be met on April 19, this year's event will be canceled.
No champion was crowned last year for the first time in US Open Cup history due to the ongoing pandemic.
This year's final is planned for the weekend June 29-30.
Eight MLS slots will be awarded to teams based on average points per game on May 3, after the first three weeks of the 2021 campaign. Eight teams from lower levels will also be included.
Atlanta United won the last US Open Cup awarded in 2019, beating Minnesota 2-1 in the final.
No team from outside MLS has reached the Open Cup final since Charleston in 2008 and none has lifted the trophy since Rochester in 1999.