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San Jose Earthquakes need strong start if they want to play in 2021 U.S. Open Cup

Almost no margin for error.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Kansas City Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

U.S. Soccer and MLS announced this week changes to the 2021 U.S. Open Cup format and the process by which MLS teams will qualify for said tournament, respectively.

Because of ongoing issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Soccer slashed the field in half for this year’s Open Cup tournament, to just 16 teams now. Eight of those 16 will come from MLS.

But if you do the math, there’s 24 American MLS teams this year and only eight slots. How will MLS figure out who gets in the USOC field this time? They are going to go by points per game through MLS gameplay on May 3, which for most clubs will be three games of the 2021 MLS regular season.

Needless to say, teams that qualify will likely pick up three wins, or two wins and a draw, etc. Teams that start slow won’t have a chance since there’s only three matches, max, to work with.

So, if the San Jose Earthquakes want to play in the tournament this year — their job is simple: win early and often.

And frankly, this year gives teams in the U.S Open Cup better odds of winning, since MLS teams need to win just four games, not the customary five in recent years, to win the competition. And it will, in turn, likely lead to a Concacaf Champions League berth for the winner. The easiest way to book a ticket into the CCL! But first, start the MLS season strong.

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