The Madison Fire will make their debut in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 13.
The U.S. Soccer Federation announced the setup and details for the 102nd annual tournament on Wednesday. A record 91 teams will be in the field for the event, which features teams from every level of adult soccer in the country – from amateur teams to all three professional leagues, including Major League Soccer.
First-round pairings, which will feature 21 geographical matchups between amateur teams, will be announced April 8. The Fire's opponent likely will come from the USL Premier Development League or the National Premier Soccer League.
The Fire are one of 11 sides that qualified for the Open Cup through the U.S. Adult Soccer Association.
They beat FC Indiana 1-0 in a Region II qualifier in October to earn one of the region's two spots – KC Athletics were the only other entrant in the regional tournament and claimed the other berth without playing a match. The Fire have been among the top teams in the Madison Soccer Association, and expanded their program last fall by joining the Wisconsin Soccer Leagues Major Division.
Teams from USL PRO, the third division of pro soccer in the U.S., will join the Open Cup in the second round and North American Soccer League clubs will be added in the third round. MLS teams join in the fourth round.
The Seattle Sounders are the Cup holders, having beaten the Philadelphia Union 3-1 after extra time in the 2014 final for their fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship – one behind the Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles for the most titles.
MLS sides have dominated the competition, winning the title 18 times in the 19 years since the league started in 1996 – the lone exception was in 1999, when the A-League's Rochester Rhinos stunned the Colorado Rapids 2-0 in the final.
Preliminary round: April 22 to 26. Two games – U.S. Club Soccer and USSSA representatives vs. closest USASA qualifiers.
First round: May 13. 21 games – Preliminary-round winners plus remaining 40 amateur teams (USL PDL, NPSL, USASA).
Second round: May 20. 21 games – First-round winners vs. 21 USL PRO teams.
Third round: May 27. 15 games – Second-round winners plus nine NASL teams.
Fourth round: June 16 or 1. 16 games – Third-round winners plus 17 MLS teams.
Fifth round: June 30 or July 1.
Quarterfinals: July 21 or 22.
Semifinals: Aug. 11 or 12.
Final: Sept. 29 or 30.