Here are the more important changes:
- USL clubs (22 in total) will enter in Round Two and be drawn against 26 surviving amateur clubs from the qualifying rounds and Round One. MLS clubs will enter at Round Four along with the 12 survivors of Rounds Two and Three. At Round Four, teams will be sorted into groups of four depending on geographic location. Each group will have 1-2 Round Three winners, and each team from Round Three will face an MLS club.
- The prize fund has been increased, with the winners of the tournament receiving $300,000 (up from $250,000). The losing finalists will receive $100,000 (up from $60,000), while the team that advances the furthest from every lower division gets $25,000 (up from $15,000).
- Travel reimbursements have also been increased, while team eligibility for reimbursements has been expanded. Travel funds will be available for all teams from Round One onward, with teams receiving up to $12,000 (capped at 24 people) up to and including the semifinals. Teams that reach the Final will receive up to $25,000 (capped at 30 people).
- The tournament commissioner will have expanded authority to reschedule games “if such a change is in the best interests of the tournament.”
There’s more, and you can get all the details here. Still plenty of work to be done, but this is an encouraging sign. US Soccer seems to be taking the Open Cup more seriously. Maybe.