TAMPA, Fla. - Led by the 2016 PDL Championship winners Michigan Bucks, a total of 21 Premier Development League franchises - the most in league history - have earned a spot in the First Round of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
"The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup provides a unique opportunity for amateur players in the PDL to be exposed to professional clubs and competition across North America while taking part in one of the world's longest-running soccer tournaments," PDL Director Todd Eason said. "We are thrilled to have a record-high 21 of our teams taking part in 2017 and look forward to supporting each and every one of our clubs as they attempt to make a deep run in the tournament."
The teams set to compete in the opening stage of the competition on May 10 include FC Tucson, the Charlotte Eagles, the Des Moines Menace, Reading United AC, the OKC Energy U23, the Fresno Fuego, The Villages SC, the GPS Portland Phoenix, the Carolina Dynamo, San Diego Zest FC, the South Florida Surf, the Ocean City Nor'easters, the FC Golden State Force, Chicago FC United, the Western Mass Pioneers, the Sounders FC U23, the Ventura County Fusion, SC United Bantams, Burlingame Dragons FC, the Derby City Rovers and the Bucks.
Each 2016 PDL division winner - the Bucks, Tucson, Eagles, Menace, Reading United, Energy U23, Fuego, The Villages SC and the Phoenix - qualified for this year's edition of the tournament, while the Sounders U23 were the highest-finishing U.S.-based team in the Northwest Division.
The pairings for the First Round of the tournament, as well as the Second Round possible matchups, will be revealed by U.S. Soccer on April 12.
Teams from the United Soccer League will enter the 104th edition of the tournament in the Second Round, with a USL record-high 18 teams taking part. The Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, FC Cincinnati, Harrisburg City Islanders, Louisville City FC, OKC Energy FC, Orange County SC, Phoenix Rising FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Reno 1868 FC, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, Sacramento Republic FC, Saint Louis FC, San Antonio FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tulsa Roughnecks FC will begin play on May 17.
The Third Round will take place on May 31, and then Major League Soccer clubs will begin U.S. Open Cup play in the Fourth Round on June 14.
First PDL Season: 2003
Open Cup Appearances*: 2003-04, 2006, 2011-14, 2017
2016 PDL Record: 10-3-1 (2nd in South Atlantic Division)
PDL Titles: PDL Championship Runners-up (2012), Regular Season Champions (2006), Eastern Conference Champions (2004, 2012), Mid Atlantic Division Champions (2004), Southeast Division Champions (2007), South Atlantic Division Champions (2006, 2011-13)
First PDL Season: 2003
Open Cup Appearances: 2003, 2012, 2014, 2017
2016 PDL Record: 10-3-1 (1st in Central Pacific Division)
First PDL Season: 1996
Open Cup Appearances: 1997, 1999-2001, 2003, 2006-2008, 2012-17
2016 PDL Record: 12-2-0 (1st in Great Lakes Division)
PDL Titles: PDL Champions (2006, 2014, 2016), Regular Season Champions (2000, 2008, 2012, 2015-16), Central Conference Champions (1997, 2000, 2006-07, 2014, 2016), North Central Division Champions (1997), Great Lakes Division Champions (1999-2000, 2003-04, 2007-08, 2010-12, 2014-16)
First PDL Season: 2010
Open Cup Appearances: 2011, 2014-15, 2017
2016 PDL Record: 7-3-4 (2nd in Northeast Division)
PDL Titles: None
*U.S. Open Cup appearances as a PDL franchise.