U.S. Soccer announced the schedule to the 2015 US Open Cup on Wednesday, which introduced several new changes to the competition's format. Three-time winners D.C. United and the other 16 US-based MLS teams will enter the competition in the 4th round, set to be played on June 16th and 17th.
A record of 91 teams will enter the competition this year, and the winners, determined in the final played on either September 29th or 30th, will earn a berth in the 2016-2017 CONCACAF Champions League. Rules this year dictate that in the first four rounds, teams will be paired up against teams based on geographic regions, and no team will play against a team from the same league in their first round.
An exception to that last rule will be the 4th round, where 17 MLS teams entering the round of 32 means that there will be one match up of two MLS teams.
The biggest change comes in the 5th round, which will be drawn on June 18th, immediately following the conclusion of the 4th round. Teams will be drawn into four groups of four based off of geographic regions, though two teams with shared-ownership affiliations cannot be drawn into the same group. These groupings will dictate the fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament, unless two ownership affiliated teams are set to meet in the semifinals, at which point the semifinals will be redrawn.
For United, the US Open Cup will present some scheduling issues. United travels to face Orlando City SC on June 14th, and then is home against the New England Revolution on Sunday the 21st, which means United will likely play their 4th round game on June 17th. Should United continue to progress, each round they are looking at a similar situation, with a game just before and just after the scheduled dates for the Open Cup.
What do you think of the new format? Excited for United to make another run at the cup? Worried that the Cup and Champions League games at the beginning and end of the season might wear the team down in the long run?