The U.S. Open Cup will be back in 2021 after an one-year hiatus with a shortened format due a currently busy schedule.

U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday the return of the annual cup competitors, which will involve 24 groups who will play five rounds from May 4’s opening round to the projected last of either June 29-30. The Open Cup usually welcomes 101 eligible groups, however has actually been lowered for the 2021 edition.

” As we took a look at our scheduling alternatives, the Open Cup Committee first focused on the health and wellness of the players and decided versus scheduling matches in both March and April due to the ongoing circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.S. Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller stated in a release. “We also took into consideration the extended June FIFA window and the Concacaf Gold Cup happening through August 1, in addition to the semifinal and final rounds of the 2021 Concacaf Champions League being set up in the fall.”

” In the end, all of us felt a reduced version for this year was the very best format, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to crown a champ after not being able to in 2020.”

The Opening Round will see 8 USL Champion clubs, 4 Open Division groups, Two USL League One teams, and Two NISA groups take part, with the winners advancing to the Round of 16. Those eight winners will be joined by 8 MLS clubs, who have actually not yet been figured out.

If the Opening Round can’t be played due to COVID-19 and the Open Cup starts with the Round of 16 instead, 2 Open Department teams, two USL League One/NISA groups (one each) and four USL Championship teams would be allocated. Those groups would sign up with the 8 MLS sides in the Round of 16.

Atlanta United is the safeguarding U.S. Open Cup Champion after defeating Minnesota United in the 2019 last.

Here’s a complete predicted schedule of the tournament:

March 29 – Date for confirming Opening Round March 31 – Opening Round matchups announced April 19 – Date for validating Round of 16 April 21 or 28 – Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw (held earlier if Opening Round is not played) May 4-5 – Opening Round (16 teams total) Might 18-19 – Round of 16 (8 MLS groups vs. 8 winners from Opening Round) May 25-26 – Quarterfinals June 15-16 – Semifinals June 29 or 30 – Last