Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer revealed the qualification process for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Monday. Eight MLS teams will qualify for the knockout tournament on a points per game basis through the first three weeks of the MLS season, which is set to take place April 16 through May 3.
The eight teams with the most amount of points per game through the first three matches of the regular season will qualify for this year’s edition of the tournament. Reigning U.S. Open Cup champions Atlanta United is set to play Orlando City, Chicago Fire, and the New England Revolution in its first three games of the MLS season.
2021 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Qualification Announced https://t.co/f12uvMOIZW— MLS Communications (@MLS_PR) March 29, 2021
The draw will be held on May 4. Due to complications brought on by the pandemic, the tournament will begin at the Round of 16 as opposed to the traditional Opening Round.
In the case that two teams have the same amount of points per game, a tie breaker will determine which team qualifies for the Round of 16. From the press release, this is how any potential tie breaker situation will go down:
- Goal Differential (GD) per match (Goals For per match minus Goals Against per match)
- Goals For (GF) per match
- Fewest Disciplinary Points* per match
- Away Goals Differential per Away match (Away Goals For per Away match minus Away Goals Against per Away match)
- Away Goals For per Away match
- Home Goals Differential per Home match (Home Goals For per Home match minus Home Goals Against per Home match)
- Home Goals For per Home match
- Coin Toss (tie of two clubs) or Drawing of Lots (tie of three or more clubs)
There’s no doubt MLS teams will want to qualify for the Open Cup. The tournament offers a pathway for the American MLS clubs to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League (cough cough).
For Atlanta to qualify, they’ll (obviously) have to pick up as many points as possible. It’s difficult to predict how likely Atlanta is to make the tournament, but Atlanta should pick up at least six points from the first three games to have a chance of qualifying. Wins against Orlando and New England may be a tough task considering Atlanta will only have two competitive matches under Heinze under its belt when the MLS season begins.