On Tuesday, U.S. Soccer announced a few major tweaks to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for its 100th year. There will be more teams (68, the most in the modern era) and more prize money ($250,000 for the tournament winner) at stake. But, the changes don't stop there.
The sealed-bid process previously to determine the host venue in the latter rounds -- which Kansas City were able to exploit for their own benefit, as Seattle had done in the past --will now be handled by a coin flip, with random selection used to decide home teams the rest of the tournament.
Sporting Kansas City beat the Seattle Sounders on penalties last year at Sporting Park to claim the trophy. The team's defense of the trophy will begin on May 28 when the 16 American MLS clubs join the competition. The 2013 U.S. Open Cup opens with a play-in round on May 7.
The final will be held much later than last year, as it will wrap up on either Oct. 1 or 2.
Some other things you might find enjoyable to read/listen to this morning.
• I joined the usual cast of James Starritt, Zachary Cobb and Laura Byrne on theKick The Ball podcast
. It's our first ever post-MLS match podcast. Give it a listen.
• How good was Graham Zusi this weekend? Well, Peter Vermes had effusive praise for his midfielder, tellingMLSSoccer.com:
"We've got certain guys on the team who can change the outcome of a game and he's one of those guys. When he's on, he's on. That was huge for us and huge for him."
• Were you smart enough to include Zusi in yourMLS Fantasy team
? If you did, he got you a hefty 14 points -- second only to Los Angeles' Mike Magee. If you had Zeus as your team captain (which I did), that was 26 points in your pocket.
• I personally think it's too early to start working out power rankings, but I've seen two of them so far. Sports Illustrated has KC third in the league; MLSsoccer.com has them second.
• Fresh off his performance with the U.S. U-20s, Mikey Lopez is ready to join Kansas City.Vermes is content to bring the youngster along slowly.
• Playoff soccer is already here in Kansas City as the Missouri Comets are preparing to take on defending MISL champion Milwaukee Wave on Thursday at the Independence Events Center. Kickoff is at 7:35 p.m. For information or playoff tickets, call 855.4KC.GOAL (855.452.4625) or visit CometsIndoorSoccer.com.