Today, US Soccer announced the format and make up of the 2012 US Open Cup, the 100th edition of the competition. A couple of changes were announced that I feel will be for the better of the competition. First, the prize money for the winner has been raised, from $100,000 to $250,000. While I still am not sure that's enough, and would still welcome a corporate sponsor if it brought more money for the prize, it's at least a step up.
The other big change that I feel will help the competition was the decision to make the winner of a coin flip the host for each round. This had been true up until the semifinal round of last year's competition, when it converted back to the old bidding process. The change means that we won't have a situation like this year where Sporting KC and the Seattle Sounders both offer "equal" bids for the final.
While the coin flip was used in the early rounds, teams still bought the "home game" from whichever team won the coin flip. Apparently that ability is going away as well. Another step in the right direction. Although the cynic in me could see a way to bend that rule but the home team "turning down" the coin flip win, and accepting money under the table from the new host.
This year the tournament proper kicks off on May 14th. MLS teams will enter 2 weeks later in the third round on the 28th. That game will be against either an amateur side, or a team from the lower leagues in the US. That game will take place two days after Sporting KC host the Houston Dynamo in a league game. The final this year is almost 2 months later than it was in 2012, taking place on either October 1st or 2nd in 2013.
Overall I like the changes and attempts by US Soccer to be more transparent with the process. Now to be even more transparent, I vote for offering a video of the coin flips, similar to what MLS did once for Open Cup qualifiers. And also make more of an effort to push teams to stream every one of the games this year.