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Pairings Set For Open Cup, Oldest U.S. Soccer Tourney

The oldest soccer competition in the United States, the Open Cup, kicks off again this year with participation from all across the spectrum of the American game. MLS teams, which already played some qualification matches of their own for the tournament, join in the third round.

The groupings for the first two rounds of the 2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup have been announced by U.S. Soccer, which runs the tournament.

First-round matches begin on Tuesday, June 9, around the country. All 32 lower division teams will enter the tournament in the first round and have been grouped geographically into eight groups of four teams. The first-round match ups were drawn randomly within the four-team groups, although match ups between teams in the same division were avoided when possible.

The two winners from each group will face off in the second round on June 16, with the winners then advancing to the third round to face the eight qualified Major League Soccer teams.

The quarterfinals will be played July 7, the semifinals will be played July 21 or 22, and the final will be played on Sept. 2.

Of the 16 amateur division teams representing the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and the Premier Development League, only two are returning for their second consecutive U.S. Open Cup, with the St. Louis Lions (PDL) and the Arizona Sahuaros (USASA) in the field for a second straight year. The Sahuaros have qualified for three of the last four U.S. Open Cups, the best record of any amateur team during that span.
Within the U.S. Open Cup framework, teams compete in one of the following four categories: professional outdoor Division I (Major League Soccer), Division II (USL First Division) or Division III (USL Second Division); or Amateur Division (USL Premier Development League & U.S. Adult Soccer Association).

Overall, 120 amateur division teams nationwide participated in qualifying for the 2009 U.S. Open Cup, with 16 teams advancing to the tournament. The 16 teams in the USL First Division and USL Second Division based in the U.S. qualified automatically.

Major League Soccer’s top six teams from the 2008 standings qualified, while D.C. United and the Seattle Sounders won their respective play-in games to complete the field of 40.

The annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 95 consecutive years dating back to 1914.

The U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament, with games tied after regulation being decided in two 15-minute overtime halves. If the score is still tied after overtime, the winner is decided in a penalty kick shootout.

Despite its long history, the Open Cup has rather paltry prize sum involved, as the champion team will collect only $100,000. The winner also will have the team’s name engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy, the oldest trophy in American team sports.

Schedule First Round
1 - June 9 Reading Rage (PDL) at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL2) 7:05 p.m. ET Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, Pa.
2 - June 9 Emigrantes Das Ilhas (USASA-Mass.) at Western Mass Pioneers (USL2) 7 p.m. ET Lusitano Stadium; Ludlow, Mass.
3 - June 9 Crystal Palace Baltimore (USL2) at Ocean City Barons (PDL) 7 p.m. ET Carey Stadium; Ocean City, N.J. 4 June
9 - Aegean Hawks FC (USASA-Va.) at Real Maryland FC (USL2) 6 p.m. ET Richard Montgomery H.S.; Rockville, Md.
5 - June 9 Richmond Kickers (USL2) at Carolina RailHawks (USL1)
7 p.m. ET WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.
6 - June 9 Charlotte Eagles (USL2) at Wilmington Hammerheads (USL2) 7 p.m. ET Legion Stadium; Wilmington, N.C.
7 - June 9 Atlanta FC (USASA-Ga.) at Charleston Battery (USL1) 7:30 p.m. ET Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C.
8 - June 9 Lynch’s FC (USASA-Fla.) at Miami FC (USL1) 8 p.m. ET Tropical Park; Miami, Fla. 9 June
9 - St. Louis Lions (PDL) at Cleveland City Stars (USL1) 7 p.m. ET Middlefield Cheese Stadium; Bedford, Ohio
10 - June 9 Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL2) at Rochester Rhinos (USL1) 7 p.m. ET Rochester Rhinos Stadium; Rochester, N.Y.
11-  June 9 402 (USASA-Neb.) at Minnesota Thunder (USL1) 7:05 p.m. ET National Sports Center; Blaine, Minn.
12 - June 9 Milwaukee Bavarians (USASA-Wis.) at Chicago Fire PDL (PDL) 5 p.m. CT Toyota Park Practice Field; Bridgeview, Ill.
13 - June 9 Arizona Sahuaros (USASA-Ariz.) at El Paso Patriots (PDL) 8 p.m. MT Patriot Stadium; El Paso, Texas
14 -  June 9 Mississippi Brilla FC (PDL) at Austin Aztex (USL1) 7:30 p.m. CT Nelson Field; Austin, Texas
15 - June 9 Portland Timbers (USL1) at Kitsap Pumas (PDL) 7 p.m. PT Bremerton Memorial H.S.; Bremerton, Wash.
16 -  June 9 Sonoma County Sol (USASA-Calif.) at Orange County Blue Star (PDL) 2 p.m. PT Concordia University; Irvine, Calif.

Second Round No. Date Match Time (local) Venue
17 - June 16 Winner 1 vs. Winner 2 TBD TBD
18 - June 16 Winner 3 vs. Winner 4 TBD TBD
19 - June 16 Winner 5 vs. Winner 6 TBD TBD
20 - June 16 Winner 7 vs. Winner 8 TBD TBD
21 - June 16 Winner 9 vs. Winner 10 TBD TBD
22 -  June 16 Winner 11 vs. Winner 12 TBD TBD
23 - June 16 Winner 13 vs. Winner 14 TBD TBD
24 - June 16 Winner 15 vs. Winner 16 TBD TBD

Future Dates
June 30 Third Round Round 2 winners face eight MLS teams
July 7 Quarterfinals Round 3 winners
July 21/22 Semifinals Quarterfinal winners
Sept. 2 Final Semifinal winners