After canceling the 2020 edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the 2021 edition has already gone through several changes and revisions. The latest announcement from the Open Cup Committee has officially canceled the first round and further reduced the number of participants to just 16.
Additionally, a second go/no-go point has been set for April 19. If the conditions for the new opening round cannot be met, the tournament will be canceled.
And now, a quick rundown of how many teams each division is sending, and how those teams will be determined.
- MLS – D1: 8 teams, to be determined by points-per-game for the USA based teams, taken on May 3
- USLC – D2: 4 teams, the four semifinalists from the 2020 season (El Paso, Tampa Bay, Louisville, Phoenix)
- USL1 – D3: 1 team, 2020 regular season winner (Greenville)
- NISA – D3: 1 team, 2020 Fall Season champion (Detroit)
- Open Division (NPSL, USL2, others): 2 teams, two-stage draw
- Stage 1:
- NPSL: 1 team drawn from 13 eligible
- USL2: 1 team drawn from 10 eligible
- Local Qualifiers: 1 team drawn from 12 eligible
- 2019 USASA Amateur Cup champions (Newtown Pride FC)
- Stage 2:
- 2 teams drawn from 4 Stage One teams
- Stage 1:
The Open Cup Committee will hold the draw for the Open Division spots on April 7. Both the Denton Diablos and Fort Worth Vaqueros are in the eligible pool for NPSL teams although the Diablos have said they are out (see below tweet).
Should the tournament confirm the opening round on April 19, the next two milestones come on May 3 and May 4. The 8 MLS sides will be confirmed on the 3rd, with the final draw to occur the next day. Based on geographic pools, teams will be paired up to set the bracket, with MLS teams facing lower division sides in the opening round. Hosting will be determined based on prior applications and venue viability.
The opening round is scheduled to take place on May 18 and 19, with the quarterfinals held on May 25 and 26, the semifinals on June 15 and 16, and the championship final on either June 29 or 30.