With the formal announcement that there will be no Open play this year, the 2022 U.S. Open Cup format has been announced, with a record number of participating teams expected.
The 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament will start on March 22, with the Final of U.S. Soccer’s National Championship slated for mid-September. This announcement comes after a truncated 2021 Open Cup in May and June was called off and will not be rescheduled after not finding available match dates shared across the various participating leagues.
“After calling off the 2021 edition of the Open Cup due to the remnant effects of COVID-19, we’re excited that we can put next year’s match dates on everyone’s calendar so early,” said Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller in a press statement. “The 2022 tournament will be the first in memory when all the top players will be available for selection for every round as none of the games involving Division I Major League Soccer or Division II USL Championship clubs will be played during an international call-up period, a necessary feature for building a credible national championship.”
The 2022 Open Cup will also be the first to execute on improvements that were put in place prior to 2020:
- A revised format that will see approximately half of MLS teams enter in the Third Round, one round earlier than in previous years. This move increases the number of matches across multiple rounds between Division I clubs and those from lower divisions (“David vs. Goliath” pairings); it also increases the opportunity (from 11 in 2019) for lower division clubs to reach the Round of 32.
- An expanded tournament calendar that will allow rounds to take place at least two weeks apart, providing additional time for home teams to market and sell tickets and for visiting clubs to arrange travel earlier at lower cost. In 2019, only one week separated the First and Second Rounds, as well as the Rounds of 32 and 16.
A record number of teams (both overall and at the professional level due to expansion over the last several years) are expected to take part, eclipsing the 100 sides that were to have played in the canceled 2020 Open Cup and the previous record 99 clubs that did take the field in 2017.