It's that time of year again, when the MLS schedule takes a brief pause and we start the second competition of the year—the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. We know you have a lot of questions, like "what is it?" and the like, so fire away.
So what is it?
Dating to 1914, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in the United States and is among the oldest in the world. Open to all affiliated amateur and professional clubs in the United States, the annual U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament. This is the 103rd edition. The fun thing is that you get to play teams outside MLS, like from the North American Soccer League (NASL), United Soccer League (USL), or even the Premier Development League (PDL) or National Premier Development Soccer League (NPSL).
Who do we play next?
We'll find out. The winner of Wednesday's game advances to the Fifth Round, with the draw to take place on Thursday. The Fourth Round winners will be divided geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, resulting in a fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Home teams are determined by a random selection process among those clubs that have applied to host in a timely fashion and whose venues meet the minimum tournament requirements. If you lose, you're out.
What if we tie?
If the match is tied at the end of regulation, the teams play two 15-minute halves of extra time. If there is still no winner after extra time, the teams go to penalty kicks to determine who advances.
Seems easy enough, just like any other knockout tournament.
Well I guess that answers all of the questions, I'll see ya—
Actually, there's something else. Roster rules are a little bit different than in regular MLS games.
Oh darn. I was just starting to figure those out.
Yeah, there's a couple more intricacies. First, teams are limited to a maximum of five international players in the 18-player gameday roster. Here are the Dynamo internationals: Agus, Cristian Maidana, Mauro Manotas, Leonel Miranda, David Rocha, and Erick Torres (away with Mexico U-23s). Players who have a U.S. green card, such as Boniek García and Giles Barnes, do not count as internationals.
Is that it?
Last thing. The Dynamo have also called up T.J. Casner, an RGV FC player originally drafted by the Dynamo, to be eligible to play for the Dynamo in the Open Cup since RGV FC will not be able to compete in the tournament as a team. MLS clubs are allowed to sign players from their USL affiliates to Short Term Agreements for Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League and friendlies a maximum of four times per player, up to four days at a time. Casner is tied for the USL lead with four assists.