Major League Soccer and U.S Soccer announced yesterday how MLS teams will Qualify for the 2021 Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup.

After canceling the tournament in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup will return in 2021.

The question has finally been answered how the qualification will work.

Let’s dive in.

To Qualify in 2021…

8 U.S Based MLS teams will qualify for the 2021 U.S Open Cup. The 8 teams will be decided based on the standings through the first 3 weeks of the 2021 MLS Regular Season (April 16-May 3).

To make up for a situation where some teams have played more games than another, the standings will be decided based on points per game, rather than total points. The first tiebreaker will be goal differential per match and the second tiebreaker will be goals scored per match.

What’s Different From Years Past?

In years past, The U.S Open Cup was a great opportunity for teams not in MLS to make a name for themselves and make a run in the competition. Over 100 America-based teams are invited to qualify for the tournament. This year, that opportunity will not be there, as only 16 teams are being invited to the competition, 8 of which from MLS and 4 from the 2nd American Division USL Championship.

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It is unfortunate that the 2021 U.S Open cup will not have the smaller teams involved in such capacity as there usually is, as that is what makes the tournament so great, as all levels of United States club soccer is on display. Many fans wish that U.S Soccer waited until a full tournament can be held, considering it’s not really the U.S Open Cup if most U.S teams cant even participate in it.

What Does This Mean for the Union?

For the Philadelphia Union, they will face a tough challenge qualifying for the Cup. As stated, the Union will have 3 matches to qualify for the competition. These matches will be @ Columbus Crew, VS Miami CF, and VS NYCFC.

So let’s see… The Union have to get, at the very least 4 points, from the season opener at the defending MLS Cup Champions Columbus Crew, David Beckham owned Miami CF who has the star players to have a lot better of a season than last year, and bitter rival NYCFC.

On top of the tough schedule, the Union will be fresh off their CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 ties against Deportivo Saprissa, along with currently being injury-plagued.

It is safe to say the Union will have their work cut out for them if they hope to qualify for the 2021 Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup.

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