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NYCFC, Red Bulls to skip 2024 US Open Cup

US Soccer has announced that the 2024 US Open Cup will include only 8 MLS teams.

There's no chance of an NYCFC vs Red Bulls matchup in the US Open Cup this year |

Neither the New York City FC nor the New York Red Bulls will participate in the 2024 US Open Cup

After months of uncertainty, US Soccer will announce the format and draw for the 109th edition of the United State’s national championship tomorrow, February 29, or Friday, March 1.

(Update 3/1: US Soccer officially confirmed the format and teams participating in the 2024 US Open Cup on Friday, March 1. You can click here to read their full official release.)

Hudson River Blue learned that the field will not include all Major League Soccer teams. Instead, a select number of teams from MLS teams and MLS NEXT Pro, the division-three reserve league, will take part. New York City FC II will participate in place of NYCFC, and New York Red Bulls II in place of the Red Bulls. 

This brings the total number of entrants in this year’s competition to 96, down from 100 in 2023.

The news was first reported by James Nalton of The Guardian and more recently by Jeff Carlisle of ESPN, and was independently confirmed by HRB. The story of MLS’s continued intent to leave the competition was first broken by HRB last week.

We can now confirm that no MLS team from the Northeastern United States will participate in the US Open Cup. That means that former champions DC United (1996, 2008, 2013) and the New England Revolution (2007) will not compete this year.

No MLS teams from the New York area in US Open Cup

This will be the first time in NYCFC club history that the First Team won’t compete in the US Open Cup. 

NYCFC has a turbulent history with the US Open Cup. The team suffered early exits to both the New York Cosmos (in 2015 and 2016) and the Red Bulls (in 2017 and 2018). NYCFC fared better in 2019 when they defeated DC United 1-2 to advance to the Quarterfinals before losing to Orlando City on penalty kicks. Last year, NYCFC lost to FC Cincinnati 1-0 in the Round of 32.

The NYCFC First Team will be replaced by NYCFC II, who will make their USOC debut in the first round between March 19–21. NYCFC II head coach Matt Pilkington is coming off a sophomore season in which his squad missed the playoffs by one point.

Despite the circumstances, this will not be Red Bulls II’s first time in the US Open Cup. In 2015, the team competed in the tournament as a member of the then-named United Soccer League (now USL Championship). The side lost its first and only game, 1-0, in a second-round match against Jersey Express SC.

Following the 2015 tournament, U.S. Soccer changed tournament policy to bar professional teams that are owned by a team that plays in a higher division, i.e. reserve teams.

The Baby Bulls are coming off their first season in MLS NEXT Pro after an eight-year tenure in the USL Championship. The team’s first season in their new home ended with head coach Ibrahim Sekagya’s team qualifying for the postseason. The Bulls fell in the Conference Semifinals to New England Revolution II.

The Red Bulls (and MetroStars) reached the USOC Final on two occasions, in 2003 and 2017, but have never lifted the trophy. The team had participated in all but three editions of the tournament since launching in 1996.

Just 8 MLS teams will participate

Only eight teams from MLS will compete in the 2024 Open Cup. Defending US Open Cup champions Houston Dynamo will be joined by the top seven US based-squads from the 2023 Supporters’ Shield standings that are not competing in the CONCACAF Champions Cup: Atlanta United, FC Dallas, LAFC, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting Kansas City.

MLS Cup winner Columbus Crew and Leagues Cup winner Inter Miami CF won't participate in the US Open Cup. Neither will Cincinnati FC, Orlando City, Philadelphia Union, Nashville SC, New England Revolution, and St Louis City.

The nine teams that finished below San Jose in the standings will be represented by MLS NEXT Pro teams. NYCFC II and RBNY II will be joined by Austin FC II, Chicago Fire FC II, Colorado Rapids 2, Crown Legacy FC, LA Galaxy II, Minnesota United FC 2, and Portland Timbers 2. The reserve teams will be joined by the two independent MLS NEXT Pro teams, Carolina Core FC and Chattanooga FC.

Notably, DC United will not have any direct participation in the tournament. The organization does not field a team in MLSNP, and DC United’s former reserve side, Loudoun United FC of the USL Championship, became fully independent last year. DC United still owns 20% of Loudoun United.

Lower-division matchups announced this week

The confirmation that RBNY II and NYCFC II will be competing brings the total number of local lower division teams participating in the first round to four (six if you include the Philadelphia metro as local).

The format, which was first reported in detail by John Morrissey of Backheeled, will see all open division (non-professional) teams enter the first round in mid-March. These teams will be joined by professional teams from the three third-division leagues in U.S. Soccer (MLS Next Pro, the National Independent Soccer Association, and USL League One).

Locally this group includes both FC Motown (Morristown, NJ) and Hudson Valley Hammers (Newburgh, NY).

The third round on April 16-17 will see 16 teams from the second division USL Championship join the competition. The remaining eight USLC teams and the eight MLS first teams will enter the competition in the following round, the Round of 32, on March 7-8.

(Update 3/1: Here's the post from US Soccer confirming the field and format for the 2024 US Open Cup.)