The US Soccer Federation announced Thursday the revised format for the US Open Cup, the oldest soccer tournament in the country.
The most significant change to the competition was the announcement that 11 MLS sides will enter the competition in the third round, a round earlier than in past seasons.
The group of MLS clubs entering the tournament in the fourth round will be made up of the four American entrants to the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League and the next four best American clubs from the Eastern and Western conference.
The 11 MLS clubs entering in the third round (Chicago Fire FC, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, FC Cincinnati, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Inter Miami CF, Nashville SC, Orlando City SC, San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City) will each have an additional match to play in order to claim the title.
The tournament scheduling was also modified, with the opening rounds of the cup kicking off March 24-25. The first round will include Open Division participants, while USL Championship, USL League One and NISA sides will all enter in the second round.
The revised schedule means that there will be at least two weeks between rounds. In previous years, some rounds would be played a week apart, often complicating travel and hosting arrangements for lower-division sides.
ESPN+ will continue to broadcast all Open Cup matches, the second year in a four year deal. The new scheduling means the 2020 Final could take place as late as September 24, nearly a month later than the 2019 Final (August 27).
2020 LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP COMPETITION SCHEDULE
Jan. 9 - Pairings methodology, Open Division berth allocation announced
Jan. 22 - First Round pairings announced
Jan. 29 - Second Round pairings and possible pairings announced
March 24-25 - First Round (Open Division teams enter)
April 7-9 - Second Round (Division II and III teams enter)
April 10 - Third Round Draw
April 21-23 - Third Round (11 Division I teams enter, including Nashville SC)
April 24 - Round of 32 Draw
May 19-20 - Round of 32 (remaining 12 Division I teams enter)
May 21 - Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw
June 10 - Possible Round of 16
June 23-24 - Round of 16 or Quarterfinals
July 14-15 - Quarterfinals or Semifinals
Aug. 11-12 - Semifinals or Final
Sept. 22-24 - Possible Final