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 consecutively crowned a champion every year since 1914 making it the oldest ongoing competition in American soccer. In 1999, it 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 17 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.
The tournament winner receives a cash prize, a berth in the following year’s CONCACAF Champions’ League, and their name engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest nationally contested trophies in American team sports. The runner-up and each team that advances the furthest from each lower division all take home cash prizes.
Since the formation of the MLS, the 1999 Rochester Rhinos are the only non-MLS club to win the Cup.
FC Wichita was awarded an at-large berth into the 2016 competition as a result of their impressive inaugural season. May 11 marked Wichita’s first appearance into the tournament, as they were selected to host the Des Moines Menace (USL PDL). Despite a good showing, the home side was eliminated from the competition in the first round against the experienced Menace (11th cup appearance). Midfielder Carlos Contreras etched his name in the history books as the first player ever to score for Wichita in the tournament’s 103 year history.
A second consecutive at-large berth for FC Wichita will give the club another opportunity for a run at the cup. The 2017 First Round pairing was announced on April 12th, brining Azteca FC (Colorado) to Wichita on May 10, 2017 at Stryker Soccer Complex. Single game tickets are now available, but are also included FREE with a season ticket package.
Lamar Hunt US Open Cup: ussoccer.com/lamar-hunt-us-open-cup/