U.S. Open Cup generic

How the 2014 U.S. Open Cup semifinal draw went down

Whether it’s for the fourth round or a final, I’m always nervous when I attend a U.S. Open Cup coin flip.

Monday’s semifinal flip was no different.

As the tournament goes on, the process for determining pairings obviously gets easier with less teams. Going into today’s flips, I thought that the Fire/Atlanta Silverbacks quarterfinal pairing provided a more logical geographic fit to be paired with the New England Revolution/Philadelphia Union winner but my hunch was incorrect.

Instead, when I arrived at Soccer House, Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller handed me a piece of paper which grouped the Fire/Silverbacks pairing with that of FC Dallas/Carolina RailHawks in a preliminary coin flip for the right (yeah, I'll call it that!) to play the New England/Philadelphia winner. It looked like the table below, with the flip result bolded:

Heads Tails
New England Revolution/Philadelphia Union Chicago Fire/Atlanta Silverbacks Heads
FC Dallas/Carolina RailHawks Tails

With the coin coming up tails, the Fire/Silverbacks pairing dropped down to the Portland Timbers/Seattle Sounders match up. Marstaller then flipped for the hosting rights for both semifinal matches, which are reflected below. 

Heads Tails
New England Revolution/Philadelphia Union FC Dallas/Carolina RailHawks
Portland Timbers/Seattle Sounders Chicago Fire/Atlanta Silverbacks

So just for the record, the semifinal host scenarios for August 12 and 13 are very straight forward:

  • FC Dallas/Carolina RailHawks winner will host New England Revolution/Philadelphia Union winner (August 12/13)
  • Portland Timbers/Seattle Sounders winner will host Chicago Fire/Atlanta Silverbacks winner (August 13)


  • Eligibility to host the 2014 U.S. Open Cup semifinals/finals is contingent on teams applying for the right to host by July 1.
  • Seven of the eight quarterfinal participants did this, with only the Atlanta Silverbacks not applying to host a potential semifinal match.
  • Hosting rights for the U.S. Open Cup semifinals are $50,000 and $250,000 for the final. Teams that win the rights to host these games are required to pay the hosting fee within one week following the match in question.
  • For reference, hosting rights fees prior to the semifinals are as follows: 1st-3rd round (no fee), 4th round ($12,000), 5th round ($18,000), quarterfinals ($25,000).

According to the 2014 U.S. Open Cup handbook, prize money is awarded as follows:

U.S. Open Cup Champion $250,000
U.S. Open Cup Runner-Up $60,000
Division II team that advances furthest $15,000
Division III team that advances furthest $15,000
Amateur team that advances furthest $15,000

As the only USL PRO team to advance to the fifth round, the Rochester Rhinos will be awarded the $15,000 prize money for Division III while the USL PDL's Laredo Heat win the amateur prize money due to being the furthest advancing amateur team to defeat a Division II representative. Laredo defeated the NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-2 in the third round. 

Should both Atlanta and Carolina go out in the quarterfinals, it will be the Silverbacks that win the Division II money by virtue of defeating two MLS teams (Real Salt Lake and Colorado). Carolina defeated one MLS team (LA Galaxy) and drew with Chivas USA before dispatching the Goats on penalty kicks in the fourth round.

Obviously if either team advances to the semifinal, that side will receive the Division II prize money. If both teams advance, more tiebreakers related to whether a team won on penalties vs. in regulation or extra time will come into play.

Have questions relating to the U.S. Open Cup draw process? I'll be hosting an AMA at /r/MLS to answer all related questions Monday at 3pm CT. Ask away here