The 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is set to kickoff on May 9 as 94 teams across the country compete for a larger amount of prize money.
The winner of this year’s Cup – crowned in September – will now earn $300,000, an increase of $50,000, while the runner-up will earn $100,000, an increase of $50,000, according to U.S. Soccer.
Three amateur teams – La Maquina FC, LA Wolves FC and Santa Ana Winds – have already qualified via division qualification and will enter the tournament when it begins. The rule excluding teams from facing others in the same qualifying pool as been eliminated, meaning California teams may face each other in the first round.
San Francisco-based El Farolito did qualify but lost that qualification after switching leagues in the middle of the Open Cup season. Qualifying teams have to stay in the league the were in when the tournament began.
Among Southern California teams, FC Golden State Force from the PDL and Orange County FC of the NPSL both enter the first round. Northern California teams include San Francisco City FC and CD Aguiluchos USA.
Orange County SC and Fresno FC, as well as Sacramento Republic FC, will enter the second round of the tournament in the second round beginning May 16. Of note, last year FC Cincinnati became the first USL club to reach the semifinals since 2011.
The third round will be May 23 with winners from that round paired against 20 MLS teams – including Los Angeles Football Club.
One format change comes in the fourth round when pairings will be made by random draw will determine match-ups. Teams will be grouped geographically, and match-ups will be within each region. This means it may not be inevitable that LAFC play the LA Galaxy every single year in the Open Cup.
The Round of 16 matches will also be determined by draw and teams divided geographically. Pro teams and their affiliated Open Division sides are not allowed to play each other until the final.
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