The The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, recognized as US Soccer’s National Club Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with US Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 103 consecutive years dating from 1914 making it the oldest ongoing competition in American soccer. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.
The US Open Cup features teams from Division I, II and III professional leagues, and open division teams. Teams from local qualifying are allowed 14 clubs, the Premier Development League (PDL) is allowed 21 clubs, and the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is allowed 18 clubs to compete in the tournament. Open division teams enter in the first round, Division III (United Soccer League) sides start in the second round, Division II (North American Soccer League) clubs see their first action in the third round and Division I (Major League Soccer) teams will take the field starting in the fourth round. Teams are paired geographically from the first round through the fourth round. After the fourth round, a geographically-based random draw will take place to determine the round of 16 match-ups and set a fixed bracket to the final.
This year’s winning team will receive $250,000, a berth in the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions’ League and have its name engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest nationally contested trophies in American team sports. The runner-up will earn $60,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will take home a $15,000 cash prize.
FC Wichita was awarded an at-large berth into the 2017 competition as a result of a very impressive season. May 10, 2017 will mark Wichita’s second appearance in the long history of the event. “Our first goal is to be invited every year,” said GM Larry Inlow. “Now it’s time to shift our attention to advancing beyond the first round.”
FC Wichita will host Azteca FC for a 7:00 PM CST kickoff.
After the announcement was made, we caught up with CEO Blake Shumaker to get his view. “We couldn’t be more humbled by the decision from US Soccer,” said Shumaker. “The opportunity to continue building our soccer culture and growing the club is in front of us. If we can collect a result in round one then we would again host in round two. It’s a special time for our city and we don’t intend to let them down, we’ll be ready to play.”