While it appeared there would be one more round of qualifiers to determine the final amateur teams to reach the 2016 edition of the U.S. Open Cup, a report from Open Cup blog TheCup.us on Wednesday, based on an email sent to clubs, said that the final qualifying round was canceled and all remaining amateur teams will make the tournament.
Josh Hakala reports that the reason for the shift is because U.S. Soccer formally announced the ban of USL teams fully owned by MLS clubs from participating in the Open Cup last month. As a result of eight clubs now being considered ineligible, including local side LA Galaxy II, that leaves eight more slots available for amateur teams for this year’s tournament.
What does that mean on a local level? Instead of just two entrants from Southern California, four amateur teams will now play in the Open Cup this year. La Maquina and LA Wolves FC will be joined by Outbreak FC and San Nicolas in the tournament proper. It is the first appearance in the Open Cup for all four sides.
While the tournament format for 2016 hasn’t yet been announced, if the set-up is similar to the 2015 edition, there may be a preliminary, play-in round before entering the main bracket. If that’s the case, then there’s a decent chance there will be a Southern California prelim game before the first round, but that depends on the teams in the tournament and the format. Stay tuned on that front.
The amateur team that went the farthest in 2015 and won a bonus for going the farthest, PSA Elite, is a Southern California team. Though none of the 2016 entrants have Open Cup experience, if the draw works the right way and they get hot at the right time, they could be the next to capture the financial windfall. Regardless of money, it should be a good opportunity for all sides involved to play in the United States’ oldest soccer competition.