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New Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Format Announced

One of the nation's longest-running team sport competitions will tweak their format in 2015.

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which derives its name from the former Columbus Crew SC owner, has announced an update to the format of the United States' oldest professional soccer tournament.

The tournament will begin in April, featuring a record 91 teams - increased from the 80 that competed in last year's tournament. The field will begin with recreational and semi-professional teams and will have a record number of professional teams, 47, added as it progresses.

The major change to the U.S. Open Cup will be the new, geographically based random draw that will occur prior to the Round of 16, which will set a bracket for the remainder of the tournament. This was done in order to help decrease long distance travel and make it easier on teams financially.

The earlier rounds, as done previously, will be determined by geographic regions with certain restrictions in place.

The winner of this year's Open Cup will take home $250,000 and earn a birth in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League. The second place finisher will earn $60,000, while the lower division team that advances the furthest will receive a $15,000 cash prize.

Crew SC have historically been one of the better MLS sides in the U.S. Open Cup. The Black and Gold have three appearances in the tournament's final game, winning just one.

In 1998, Columbus fell to the Chicago Fire 2-1 in overtime in the final game that was rescheduled and moved to Soldier Field, the home of the Fire, due to inclement weather at the original location. In the 2002 Open Cup final the Black and Gold defeated the LA Galaxy 1-0 at Columbus Crew Stadium after a 30th minute strike from midfielder Freddy Garcia. In 2010 Crew SC fell 2-1 in the final to the Seattle Sounders on the road.

The tournament will begin in late April with play-in matches taking place from April 22-26. This year's final will take place on Sept. 29 or 30. The 17 American MLS teams will enter the tournament in the Fourth Round, which will occur on June 16-17 with 15 of the 17 sides playing a winner from the previous round and two MLS sides facing off against each other.

Stay tuned to Massive Report to find out more information on this year's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as it pertains to Crew SC as it is released.