If the Sounders are to win their second-straight and fifth overall U.S. Open Cup, they’ll have to work their way through a re-worked bracket.
U.S. Soccer revealed Wednesday the new format of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which has a record number of 91 entrants for its 102nd edition in 2015.
The most significant change is this: There will be a new, geographically-based random draw that will determine the Round of 16 matches and set a fixed bracket to the final. The change was implemented to minimize the possibility of clubs being required to travel long distances for matches. As in earlier editions, matches from the beginning of the tournament to the fourth round will be determined on a geographic basis, with certain restrictions in place.
The winner of the final, set for either Sept. 29 or 30, earns both $250,000 and a spot in the 2016-2017 CONCACAF Champions League.
Another title will draw the Sounders even with defunct clubs Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles for the most-ever U.S. Open Cups with five. Among MLS clubs, only Chicago and Seattle have won four.