The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the world's third-longest-running tournament of its kind, announced the First and Second Round draws for the 103rd edition yesterday. The tournament is open to all amateur and professional clubs - with the exception of the MLS 2s and RGVFC - in the United States. The USOC provides high level competitive experience for the lower league clubs, as well as a chance to go toe-to-toe with the relative giants of MLS. In addition to receiving some silverware, the winner of the cup gets a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League as one of the four American clubs.
The First Round starts on May 11, 2016 with the USL clubs - plus Chattanooga FC and Kitsap Pumas, who received byes - playing the winners in the Second Round on May 18, 2016.
Here are the scenarios for the USL Clubs in the Second Round.
Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC (PDL) v Indy Eleven (NPSL) winner @ FC Cincinnati
Corinthians FC of San Antonio (NPSL) v NTX Rayados winner @ San Antonio FC
Chesterfield United (NPSL) v Aromas Cafe FC (Amateur) winner @ Richmond Kickers
FC Tucson (PDL) v San Nicolas FC (Amateur) winner v Arizona United SC
Harpo's FC (Amateur) v Albuquerque Sol FC (PDL) winner @ Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Seattle Sounders U23 (PDL) @ Kitsap Pumas (PDL)
Orange County Blues @ VC Fusion (PDL) v LA Wolves FC (UPSL) winner
Mississippi Brilla FC (PDL) v CD Motagua of New Orleans (Amateur) winner v OKC Energy FC
San Francisco City FC (PDL) v CD Aguiluchos USA (NPSL) winner @ Sacramento Republic FC
Burlingame FC (PDL) v Sacramento Gold (NPSL) winner @ Portland Timbers U23 (Or @ La Maquina)
Charlotte Eagles (PDL) v Myrtle Beach FC (NPSL) winner v Charlotte Independence
Kraze United (NPSL) v The Villages FC (PDL) winner @ Charleston Battery
Boca Raton FC (APSL) v Miami Fusion (NPSL) winner @ Wilmington Hammerheads FC
Detroit City FC (NPSL) v Michigan Bucks (PDL) winner @ Louisville City FC
Harrisburg City Islanders @ Fredericksburg FC (NPSL) v West Chester United SC (PDL) winner
Atlanta Silverbacks FC (NPSL) v Reading United AC (PDL) winner @ Chattanooga FC
Seacoast United Phantoms (PDL) v Southie FC (USASA) winner @ Rochester Rhinos
Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) v Lansdowne Bhoys FC (Amateur) winner @ Pittsburgh Riverhounds
AFC Cleveland (NPSL) V GPS Portland Phoenix (PDL) winner @ Saint Louis FC
Tulsa Roughnecks @ Des Moines Menace (PDL) v FC Wichita (NPSL) winner
Jersey Express (PDL) v Clarkstown SC (Amateur) v New York Red Bulls U23
A Few Notes
The biggest story line of the tournament is the lack of the "MLS 2" clubs in the competition. Given that, it is rather odd to see the U23 teams of the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, and New York Red Bulls. These U23 clubs are not allowed to face their parent club unless the unlikely occurs and they both make the Cup Final. RGVFC, despite its hybrid-style affiliation, will not compete in the tournament per the request of the Houston Dynamo.
The USL clubs will be looking to build on their Open Cup success last season when they swept NASL in each of the seven head-to-head matches between the two leagues in the Third Round. In all, 11 USL clubs advanced to the Fourth Round to face the MLS sides. Charlotte Independence advanced the furthest of all USL clubs last season, making it to the Fifth Round with a 1-0 victory over MLS side New England Revolution in the Fourth Round.
What do you think of the draw? Which potential matchups are you most looking forward to watching? What USL club do you think will advance the furthest? Let us know in the comments below!