After canceling the U.S. Open Cup in 2020 due to COVID-19, the tournament will be back in 2021 with a modified format.
The action will kick off on May 4 and May 5. There will only be five rounds instead of the usual eight and the rounds will take place across two months. The Final is scheduled for June 29 or 30.
Cutting out three rounds means the field will be reduced from 101 clubs to just 24, but there will still be teams from all four divisions: Professional Division I, Division II, Division III, and the Open Division (encompassing all other affiliated teams and leagues).
“As we looked at our scheduling options, the Open Cup Committee first prioritized the health and safety of the players and decided against scheduling matches in both March and April due to the ongoing circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller. “We also took into consideration the extended June FIFA window and the Concacaf Gold Cup taking place through August 1, along with the semifinal and final rounds of the 2021 Concacaf Champions League being scheduled in the fall.
“In the end, we all felt a shortened version for this year was the best format, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to crown a champion after not being able to in 2020.”
If COVID-19 affects the 2021 USOC, the Open Cup Committee has the option of canceling the Opening Round and starting with the Round of 16 on May 18 and 19. If that happens, they’ll reallocate the eight spots for the lower divisions to:
- Division II: 4 slots
- Division III: 2 slots (one each to NISA and USL League One)
- Open Division: 2 slots
The Committee would have to make this decision by March 29.
For more information and to see the full list of eligible teams, click here.