Increased prize money, random host-site selection among U.S. Open Cup changes

The 100th edition of the competition will see the winner take home $250,000, while the locations for the semifinal and final will be determined by random selection.
The 100th edition of the U.S. Open Cup will feature a number of significant changes from past editions of the competition.

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that all rounds will have host locations determined by random selection, as opposed to last year in which the semifinal and final were determined by a closed bid process. In addition to that change, unlike last year, when some lower division teams sold hosting rights they had won by random selection, teams will not be permitted to sell off hosting rights in 2013.

A U.S. Soccer spokesman confirmed to that possibility no longer exists. Last year, the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake negotiated with a pair of lower-tier sides, the Atlanta Silverbacks and Minnesota Stars, respectively, to host third-round matches. The incentive for the typically low-budget lower-tier sides was a chance to pocket some money in exchange for playing the game away from home, a decision that caused some uproar from supporters.

In addition to the hosting-rights provision change, the winning team will take home $250,000, a vast increase from the previous high of $100,000. The final will be considerably later this year than in past years, with Oct. 1 or 2 slated for the winner-take-all championship game. Last year's final was played on Aug. 8.

The tournament field for the 2013 competition will be the biggest of the modern U.S. Open Cup era, with 68 clubs (up from last year's high of 64) ranging from the depths of the U.S. amateur circuit to the 12 USL PRO teams, six NASL teams and 16 USA-based MLS teams in the three tiers of professional soccer. MLS teams will enter the competition in the third round, which begins on May 28.

Sporting Kansas City claimed its second Open Cup in franchise history last season, defeating the Sounders and ending Seattle's three-year reign as tournament champion.