Lamar Hunt’s US Open Cup Explainer: How America’s Oldest Club Soccer Tournament Works

This year’s edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is coming into the home stretch, with just eight teams remaining in pursuit of the 2022 trophy. Six of those teams are from MLS, while two of them are from lower divisions of the American football hierarchy. Sacramento Republic FC, who were just moments away from securing an expansion berth in MLS, play in the second-tier league USL Championship, while Union Omaha SC competes in USL League One. third level.

What is the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup?

The US Open Cup is the oldest national football cup tournament in the United States, dating back to 1913. Any team that plays in a league that is part of the American football organization can qualify for the tournament, opening it to many lower division teams who can try their hand at making a deep run.

2022 marks the first edition of the USOC since 2019, with subsequent editions in 2020 and 2021 having been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How does the Open Cup work?

All clubs enter the tournament at different stages, with the first round starting with clubs from the lowest divisions like the NPSL, USL League Two and the Open Division which allows amateur teams from local competitions to qualify. The second round sees more clubs from lower divisions joining, including the USL Championship, MLS Next Pro and USL League One.

MLS teams only begin to join in the third round, when 17 of the league’s teams entered in April and faced the remaining lower division teams that advanced from the second round. The fourth round, or round of 16, sees the entry of the bottom eight MLS teams, which consist of the four teams playing in the CONCACAF Champions League, followed by the next two best teams that have achieved the best results from each conference in last year’s MLS season. .

Only 25 of the 28 MLS teams participate in the tournament, as the competition is only open to clubs based in the United States. Vancouver Whitecaps, CF Montreal and Toronto FC are not eligible to participate in the USOC.

Who won last year’s tournament?

Since no tournament was held in 2020 or 2021, MLS team Atlanta United FC have been defending USOC champions since 2019. They beat Minnesota United with a final score of 2-1, thanks to first two goals before the 20th minute.

Who should win this year’s tournament?

Although odds for the winner of the tournament are not yet known on DraftKings Sportsbook, there are still two lower division teams in Union Omaha SC and Sacramento Republic FC fighting to stay alive in the competition against tougher MLS clubs. .

History will show that an MLS team is usually favored to win, as the last non-MLS club to win the trophy was the Rochester Rhinos of the now defunct A-League in the 1999 edition of the tournament. The Rhinos have since changed their name and now compete in MLS Next Pro as Rochester New York FC.

How can I watch the Open Cup?

All US Open Cup matches will be shown live on ESPN+ as they have exclusive rights to the tournament until 2022.

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