Who is playing in the US Open Cup 2024? MLS clubs in reworked tournament, NEXT Pro teams participate

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup may be the oldest domestic soccer competition in the United States by a considerable margin, but in its 109th edition of play, there’s a nervy feeling of new beginnings around the famed tournament.

Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer federation announced that only a handful of MLS clubs will participate in this year’s tournament.

MLS clubs have featured in the U.S. Open Cup since the league began play in 1996, dominating the event by winning all but two of the 27 tournaments since then. However, the league has stated that they are concerned with the sustainability of the current format, preferring to pour significant resources into the new Leagues Cup, while the U.S. Open Cup is sacrificed.

Last winter, MLS attempted to withdraw all clubs from the competition, but when that proposal was rejected by U.S. Soccer, the two sides came to a partial agreement. Eight clubs from MLS will enter this year’s event, while 10 more affiliated youth sides from MLS NEXT Pro will take the place of others.

MORE: Why are only a few MLS clubs participating in the 2024 US Open Cup?

How to watch 2024 US Open Cup

All matches of the 2024 U.S. Open Cup will be broadcast, as U.S. Soccer hopes to increase the tournament’s visibility.

Full broadcast details of the entire tournament have not been announced, but it was revealed that all first and second-round matches will be streamed on the official websites of U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and USL. Likely, as the later rounds arrive, U.S. Soccer will lean on their rights deal with Turner Sports for much of the tournament’s coverage.

For the first time since 2008, the U.S. Open Cup will be formatted so that the first round is made up exclusively of matchups between professional teams against amateur clubs. Expanding that concept further, all MLS clubs will be forced to match up against lower-league opponents until that is no longer possible, based on other scheduling restrictions.

The idea is to give lower-league sides matches with greater visibility, while enjoying the chance to generate upsets.

Who is playing in the 2024 US Open Cup?

A total of 96 teams will enter the 2024 U.S. Open Cup, but the field will look significantly different from recent years. 

Not all Major League Soccer teams will participate, leaving the door wide open for a lower-league champion, something which hasn’t happened since the now-defunct Rochester Rhinos won in 1999.

An MLS participant has triumphed in every single edition since that time — a 22-year run, not including the two cancelled editions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sacramento Republic, who will participate this year, are the last lower-league side to reach the final, when they fell to Orlando City in 2022.

In fact, only four clubs participating in this year’s competition have ever won the tournament: defending champions Houston Dynamo, plus other MLS sides Seattle Sounders, Atlanta United and FC Dallas.

2024 US Open Cup participating teams

Entering in Round of 32

Only nine MLS first-team clubs will enter the U.S. Open Cup in 2024 — the defending champions Houston Dynamo plus the top eight clubs from the 2023 standings who are not participating in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

All the MLS clubs entered are automatic qualifiers into the Round of 32, while the top seven sides in the 2023 USL Championship (Tier 2) regular season standings will also enter at this stage, along with USL Championship playoff winners, Phoenix Rising.

Club League Qualified via
Houston Dynamo MLS 2023 US Open Cup — 1st
2023 MLS aggregate table — 9th
Seattle Sounders MLS 2023 MLS aggregate table — 7th
LAFC MLS 2023 MLS aggregate table — 8th
Atlanta United MLS 2023 MLS aggregate table — 10th
Real Salt Lake MLS 2023 MLS aggregate table — 11th
FC Dallas MLS 2023 MLS aggregate table — 14th
Sporting KC MLS 2023 MLS aggregate table — 15th
San Jose Earthquakes MLS 2023 MLS aggregate table — 16th
Phoenix Rising USLC 2023 USL Cup winners
Pittsburgh Riverhounds USLC 2023 USL Championship — 1st
Sacramento Republic USLC 2023 USL Championship — 2nd
Tampa Bay Rowdies USLC 2023 USL Championship — 3rd
Charleston Battery USLC 2023 USL Championship — 4th
Orange County SC USLC 2023 USL Championship — 5th
San Antonio FC USLC 2023 USL Championship — 7th
Colorado Springs Switchbacks USLC 2023 USL Championship — 8th

Entering in Third Round

Before that, the third round will see the remaining 16 USL Championship (Tier 2) clubs start the competition. This includes the two expansion sides, North Carolina FC and Rhode Island FC.

Club League Qualified via
Memphis 901 USLC 2023 USL Championship — 9th
Louisville City USLC 2023 USL Championship — 10th
Indy Eleven USLC 2023 USL Championship — 11th
El Paso Locomotive USLC 2023 USL Championship — 13th
New Mexico United USLC 2023 USL Championship — 14th
Birmingham Legion USLC 2023 USL Championship — 15th
Oakland Roots USLC 2023 USL Championship — 17th
Detroit City FC USLC 2023 USL Championship — 18th
Miami FC USLC 2023 USL Championship — 19th
Monterey Bay FC USLC 2023 USL Championship — 20th
FC Tulsa USLC 2023 USL Championship — 21st
Loudoun United USLC 2023 USL Championship — 22nd
Las Vegas Lights USLC 2023 USL Championship — 23rd
Hartford Athletic USLC 2023 USL Championship — 24th
North Carolina FC USLC 2024 USLC expansion club
Rhode Island FC USLC 2024 USLC expansion club

Entering in First Round

All other clubs will enter the US Open Cup in the first round. This early field is headlined by nine affiliated MLS NEXT Pro clubs, set to replace some MLS senior squads who were not selected to participate.

Club League Qualified via
Austin FC II MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with Austin FC (MLS)
Chicago Fire FC II MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with Chicago Fire (MLS)
Colorado Rapids 2 MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with Colorado Rapids (MLS)
Crown Legacy FC MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with Charlotte FC (MLS)
LA Galaxy II MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with LA Galaxy (MLS)
Minnesota United 2 MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with Minnesota United (MLS)
NYCFC II MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with NYCFC (MLS)
NY Red Bulls II MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with NY Red Bulls (MLS)
Portland Timbers 2 MLS NEXT Pro Affiliation with Portland Timbers (MLS)
Carolina Core FC MLS NEXT Pro 2024 MLS NEXT Pro expansion club
Chattanooga FC MLS NEXT Pro 2024 MLS NEXT Pro expansion club
Union Omaha USL1 2023 USL League One table — 1st
Northern Co. Hailstorm USL1 2023 USL League One table — 3rd
Charlotte Independence USL1 2023 USL League One table — 4th
Greenville Triumph USL1 2023 USL League One table — 5th
Forward Madison USL1 2023 USL League One table — 6th
Tormenta FC USL1 2023 USL League One table — 7th
One Knoxville SC USL1 2023 USL League One table — 8th
Lexington SC USL1 2023 USL League One table — 9th
Chattanooga Red Wolves USL1 2023 USL League One table — 10th
Richmond Kickers USL1 2023 USL League One table — 11th
Central Valley Fuego USL1 2023 USL League One table — 12th
Spokane Velocity USL1 2024 USL League One expansion club
Michigan Stars NISA 2023 NISA standings — 2nd
LA Force NISA 2023 NISA standings — 3rd
Maryland Bobcats NISA 2023 NISA standings — 5th
Club de Lyon NISA 2023 NISA standings — 7th
Savannah Clovers NISA 2023 NISA standings — 8th
Arizona Monsoon NISA 2024 NISA expansion club
Capo FC NISA 2024 NISA expansion club
Georgia Lions NISA 2024 NISA expansion club
Irvine Zeta NISA 2024 NISA expansion club
Tulsa Athletic NPSL 2023 NPSL Final champions
Apotheos FC NPSL 2023 NPSL Final runners-up
West Chester United NPSL 2023 NPSL semifinalists
Steel City FC NPSL 2023 NPSL quarterfinalists
FC Motown NPSL 2023 NPSL quarterfinalists
El Farolito SC NPSL 2023 NPSL quarterfinalists
Lubbock Matadors NPSL 2023 Lone Star Conference winners
Duluth FC NPSL 2023 North Conference winners 
Ballard FC USL2 2023 USL League Two title winners
Asheville City SC USL2 USL League Two participant
Brave SC USL2 USL League Two participant
Chicago City SC USL2 USL League Two participant
Des Moines Menace USL2 USL League Two participant
Hudson Valley Hammers USL2 USL League Two participant
NoVa FC USL2 USL League Two participant
Redlands FC USL2 USL League Two participant
South Carolina United USL2 USL League Two participant
Vermont Green FC USL2 USL League Two participant
Western Mass Pioneers USL2 USL League Two participant
SC MesoAmerica USASA 2023 National Amateur Cup champions
AS Frenzi UPSL 2024 UPSL Spring Champions
Azteca FC CPL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
Brockton FC United UPSL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
FC Folsom UPSL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
FC America CFL Spurs UPSL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
Foro SC UPSL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
Irvine Zeta FC 2 UPSL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
South Carolina Heat UPSL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
Chicago House AC MWPL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
Christos FC MSSL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
Miami United FC USSL 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier
Vereinigung Erzgebirge USL-P 2024 US Open Cup local qualifier

Which MLS clubs will not play in the 2024 US Open Cup?

With only eight senior MLS sides participating in the U.S. Open Cup in 2024, that leaves the 21 clubs left out.

Six of those teams were excused due to continental participation — with MLS looking to ease the schedule of those in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Only Houston Dynamo, who were afforded the opportunity to defend their 2023 U.S. Open Cup title, will participate in both tournaments.

The bottom 15 MLS clubs from the 2023 standings were not selected to participate. Inter Miami missed out on both counts — finishing 27th in the 2023 aggregate standings and also participating in the CONCACAF Champions Cup via winning the Leagues Cup.

Club 2023 finish Missed out via
Columbus Crew MLS Cup champions CONCACAF Champions Cup participation
Inter Miami MLS aggregate table — 27th
2023 Leagues Cup champions
CONCACAF Champions Cup participation & MLS standings
FC Cincinnati Supporters’ Shield winners CONCACAF Champions Cup participation
St Louis City SC Western Conference winners CONCACAF Champions Cup participation
Orlando City SC MLS aggregate table — 2nd CONCACAF Champions Cup participation
New England Rev. MLS aggregate table — 5th CONCACAF Champions Cup participation
Nashville SC MLS aggregate table — 12th
2023 Leagues Cup runners-up
CONCACAF Champions Cup participation
Sporting KC MLS aggregate table — 15th MLS standings
San Jose Earthquakes MLS aggregate table — 16th MLS standings
NY Red Bulls MLS aggregate table — 17th MLS standings
Portland Timbers MLS aggregate table — 18th MLS standings
Charlotte FC MLS aggregate table — 19th MLS standings
Minnesota United MLS aggregate table — 21st MLS standings
NYCFC MLS aggregate table — 22nd MLS standings
D.C. United MLS aggregate table — 23rd MLS standings
Chicago Fire MLS aggregate table — 24th MLS standings
Austin FC MLS aggregate table — 25th MLS standings
LA Galaxy MLS aggregate table — 26th MLS standings
Colorado Rapids MLS aggregate table — 28th MLS standings
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