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U.S. Open Cup Canceled As a Result of Pandemic

After trying for several months to figure out when or how to stage it, or to hold off on making a decision until the pandemic became more predictable, the U.S. Soccer Federation has opted to cancel this year’s U.S. Open Cup tournament, multiple sources confirmed to Sports Illustrated on Friday.

The 2020 competition was suspended in early March, shortly before the first round featuring local and national amateur qualifiers was to kick off. As a result of the cancellation, the Open Cup will lose its status as the longest continuously-contested annual sports competition in the USA, and the second-longest on the planet. It debuted in 1913. This season’s edition would’ve been the 107th.

Now, the 107th Open Cup tournament will have to take place place next season. U.S. Soccer intends to invite each club that qualified for this year’s event, according to a source.

An announcement from the federation is expected early next week, and a new annual streak will have to begin in 2021.

The 2020 Open Cup lost its first entrants when the two national amateur leagues, USL League Two and the NPSL, canceled their seasons. The pro teams from MLS, the USL Championship, USL League One and NISA have prioritized playing as much of a regular season as possible in home markets—the MLS campaign just resumed Wednesday night in Dallas—with or without fans. That’s made finding available dates for prospective Open Cup games difficult, especially when advancement isn’t assured. In addition, travel can be problematic, and smaller teams could conceivably take a significant financial hit staging an Open Cup match in an empty stadium.

No decision has been made regarding the Open Cup champion's slot in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League, Sports Illustrated understands. The Portland Timbers just secured one CCL berth by winning the MLS is Back Tournament, and the remaining two American spots are assigned to the MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield winners.