US Soccer has retooled the U.S. Open Cup a little bit to include a better prize as well as the introduction of more teams.
This year marks the 100th edition of the U.S. Open Cup. For a nation that supposedly has little soccer history, that's quite a long time! Despite that, however, it's only been until fairly recently that anybody has really taken it seriously. As much as I dislike saying it, the Seattle Sounders' interest in winning the thing from 2009 onward has really increased the importance of the tournament. So much so that I expect the Timbers to at least beat an amateur club this year...
The tournament this year has been tweaked slightly to make it even more appealing to clubs. here's exactly what's been changed:
The amount of prize money distributed will see a substantial increase, with the overall champion earning a total of $250,000 (up from $100,000 in recent years). The tournament runner-up will receive $60,000 (up from $50,000) and the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will win $15,000 (up from $10,000).
Another significant change for 2013 is the process for determining the site for the Open Cup tournament semifinals and final. In past years, the sites for the final three matches of the tournament had been determined through a sealed-bid process, but this year the hosts of those games will be determined by a coin flip. Home teams throughout the entire tournament will be determined by random selection.
Additionally, the tournament will host 68 teams instead of the 64 we saw in 2012.
Obviously the added prize money is very cool, but the important part is the info about the site selection. Some teams, (Seattle) have been accused in years past of buying the home field advantage. Sporting Kansas City got it last year and, well look at that, they won. With this new coin flip, it won't be possible for a Seattle, or even Kansas City, to simply buy the home location.
What isn't clear is just what the money does for the MLS team who wins it. Are they allowed to use it for allocation money next year? If so, then that's either a couple solid MLS players, or one really good one to bolster the squad. Quite the incentive, if you ask me.
What do you think of the Open Cup changes?