U.S. Open Cut finalizes format, FCC starts play in May

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - FC Cincinnati will compete in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a tiered-bracket, single-game knockout tournament. FCC will begin action in the second round with play scheduled for May 17. Initial pairings are expected to be announced by U.S. Soccer on Apr. 12.

FCC will be one of 43 Division I and II professional teams in the tournament that begins with 56 Open Division clubs. Last season, FCC hosted Indy Eleven NPSL at Nippert Stadium in their first-ever U.S. Open Cup game and posted a 2-1 win to advance to the third round against then-NASL club, Tampa Bay Rowdies, where the team suffered a 1-0 road loss.

Match-ups will be determined based on geography from the first through the fourth rounds. Following the fourth round, a geographically-based random draw will decide the Round of 16 fixtures and determine a bracket for the path to the final, slate for Sept. 20.

The winning team will receive $250,000, a berth in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League and have its name engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy. The runner-up will earn $60,000 while the team that climbs the furthest from each lower division will collect a $15,000 cash prize.

First-round games involving the Open Division teams begin on May 10. FCC will join the competition in the second round on May 17, when winners of the 28 first-round games will take on 24 Division II clubs (6 from the NASL and 18 from the USL). At the time the first-round pairings are decided, each Division II team will be matched geographically to a specific first-round pairing and will be scheduled to play its winner. Remaining first-round matchups not paired with a Division II side will be aligned geographically with the winners playing each other to complete the round.

The third round is slated for May 31 with the winners of the 26 second-round games bracketed geographically to face one another.

MLS teams will make their entrance into the tournament on June 14 and the winners will be divided into groups of four the following day. MLS sides will not be matched up with their affiliates and a random draw will decide group pairings, resulting in a fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Matches may undergo a second drawing should precluded teams meet in the semifinals.

Round of 16 play is slated for June 28, followed by quarterfinals on July 11, semifinals on Aug. 9 with the tournament culminating in a final match on Sept. 20.

2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Participating Teams

Division I and II Professional Teams Eligible to Participate (43 total):

Division I (19 teams, entering in the Fourth Round) - Major League Soccer: Atlanta United FC, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City

Division II (24 teams, entering in the Second Round) - North American Soccer League (6): Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC, New York Cosmos, North Carolina FC (formerly Carolina RailHawks), San Francisco Deltas; United Soccer League (18 teams): Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, FC Cincinnati, Harrisburg City Islanders, Louisville City FC, OKC Energy FC, Orange County SC (formerly Orange County Blues), Phoenix Rising FC (formerly Arizona United), Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Reno 1868 FC, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, Sacramento Republic FC, Saint Louis FC, San Antonio FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tulsa Roughnecks FC

Open Division Teams (56 total, all entering in the First Round):

Local Qualifiers (17 places, listed alphabetically by state): California (6): Chula Vista FC, El Farolito, La Máquina*, LA Wolves FC*, Moreno Valley Fútbol Club, Outbreak FC*; Colorado (2): Azteca FC, Colorado Rush; Florida (2): Boca Raton Football Club*, Red Force FC; Maryland (1): Christos FC; Massachusetts (1): GPS Omens; Nevada (1): Anahuac FC; New Jersey (1): FC Motown; Pennsylvania (2): Junior Lone Star FC, Tartan Devils Oak Avalon; Texas (1): NTX Rayados

Premier Development League (21 places): Division Winners: Charlotte Eagles* (N.C.), Des Moines Menace* (Iowa), FC Tucson* (Ariz.), Fresno Fuego (Calif.), GPS Portland Phoenix* (Maine), Michigan Bucks*, OKC Energy U23 (Okla.), Reading United AC* (Pa.), The Villages SC* (Fla.); At-Large Berths: Burlingame Dragons* (Calif.), Carolina Dynamo* (N.C.), Chicago FC United (formerly Chicago Fire U-23), Derby City Rovers (Ky.), FC Golden State Force (Calif.), Ocean City Nor’easters (N.J.), San Diego Zest (Calif.), SC United Bantams (S.C.), Sounders FC U-23* (Wash.), South Florida Surf, Ventura County Fusion* (Calif.), Western Mass Pioneers. The PDL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2016 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2017 Open Cup.

National Premier Soccer League (18 places): Qualified via 2016 NPSL playoffs: AFC Cleveland* (Ohio), Albion SC Pros (Calif.), Chattanooga FC* (Tenn.), Clarkstown SC Eagles* (N.Y.), Grand Rapids FC (Mich.), Miami United FC (Fla.), New Jersey Copa FC (N.J.), Sonoma County Sol (Calif.); At-Large Berths: AFC Ann Arbor (Mich.), Atlanta Silverbacks*, Boston City FC (Mass.), Dutch Lions FC (Texas), FC Wichita* (Kan.), Fredericksburg FC* (Va.), Jacksonville Armada U-23 (Fla.), Legacy 76 (Va.), OSA FC (Wash.) Tulsa Athletics (Okla). The NPSL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2016 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2017 Open Cup.

* Participated in 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

A list of teams not eligible to play each other until the final will be announced at a later date.

Information provided by FC Cincinnati.

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