US Open Cup soccer cut from 101 teams 24 due to pandemic

CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. Open Cup is being cut from 101 teams to 24 and reduced from eight rounds to five because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 tournament was skipped entirely because of the pandemic, the first time the competition was not held since it started in 1913-14. Atlanta won the 2019 title.

The U.S. Soccer Federation said Tuesday that this year’s tournament will start May 4 and the final will be June 29 or 30.

U.S. Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller said in a statement the pandemic caused organizers to not want to play in March or April.

“We also took into consideration the extended June FIFA window and the CONCACAF Gold Cup taking place through Aug. 1, along with the semifinal and final rounds of the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League scheduled for the fall,” he said.

Teams will include eight from Major League Soccer that enter the round of 16 on May 18-19, eight from the second-tier United Soccer League Championship, two from the third-tier USL League One, two from the third-tier National Independent Soccer Association and four from the USSF’s Open Division.

The U.S. Open Cup committee said if it determines by March 29 that conditions don’t enable the opening round to be held as scheduled, it would cancel the round, reallocate slots for the round of 16 and decide by April 19 if the tournament can start May 18. If it determines by April 19 the round of 16 can’t be held, the committee would cancel the tournament.

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