Nashville SC

MLS announces US Open Cup qualifying format

An Open Cup throwback. Photo by Tim Sullivan/Club and Country

From League release:

NEW YORK (March 29, 2021) – Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer today announced the MLS club qualification procedure for the 2021 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. 

As announced by U.S. Soccer in February, eight U.S.-based MLS teams will qualify for the 2021 tournament. MLS and U.S. Soccer today confirmed that those eight teams will be determined by team performance through the first three weeks of MLS regular season play (April 16 through May 3).

The U.S.-based MLS clubs with the highest number of regular season points per game (three points for a win, one point for a tie) at the conclusion of the first three weeks of MLS play will qualify for the 2021 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. 

In the event that two or more teams have an equal number of points per game, the below regular season tiebreakers will be used until one team ranks above the other(s). After the winner of the MLS regular season tiebreaker is determined, any remaining tied clubs will again go through a second round of the MLS tiebreakers in order to determine the next advancing club. The tiebreaker system will continue until qualification has been determined.

1. Goal Differential (GD) per match (Goals For per match minus Goals Against per match)
2. Goals For (GF) per match
3. Fewest Disciplinary Points* per match
4. Away Goals Differential per Away match (Away Goals For per Away match minus Away Goals Against per Away match)
5. Away Goals For per Away match
6. Home Goals Differential per Home match (Home Goals For per Home match minus Home Goals Against per Home match)
7. Home Goals For per Home match
8.Coin Toss (tie of two clubs) or Drawing of Lots (tie of three or more clubs)

Open Cup Committee Decides Not to Play Opening Round of 2021 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Citing challenges still in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and given the competition is played across the country involving clubs from multiple professional and amateur divisions and leagues, the U.S. Open Cup Committee announced today the decision not to hold the tournament’s previously planned Opening Round.

The tournament is now structured to feature 16 teams which will play four rounds in pursuit of the 2021 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title.

Major League Soccer

The relevant part for Nashville SC purposes is who the Boys in Gold play in those first three weeks: FC Cincinnati, CF Montreal, and Inter Miami CF. Lotta combinations of “city name, letter c, letter f” in there.

FC Cincinnati is on a two-year streak of setting records for futility, while Inter Miami’s inaugural year was incredibly disappointing, especially when even mid-season reinforcements of some of the most expensive transfers in league history resulted in a team that squeaked into the playoffs and was blasted by your very own Nashville Soccer Club. Of course, both of those teams made a number of offseason changes, and there is optimism around each (probably more realistic in Cincinnati’s case) that improved squads will take the pitch in 2021.

Montreal – in its former life as a team without a horrible name – finished ninth in the East and fell to New England in the play-in round. There’s also been plenty of change in Montreal, though it’s more on the negative end (head coach Thierry Henry departing somewhat-suddenly to return to his family in England, deflating news that the Canadian teams will once again begin the year in the US).

It’s not hard to see mechanisms through which Nashville takes 7-9 points in those games – which would almost-certainly get the team into the Open Cup – but also not difficult to see the team starting slow and getting just 3-4 points.

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