Every year over the past century in the United States, the longest running club soccer tournament in the nation has crowned a champion from amongst the ranks of clubs big and small, professional and amateur. In 2014, the 101st edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup will once again bring together clubs from all corners of the country to challenge for the one of the oldest sports trophies in American sport, the Dewar Cup.
In addition to raising the Dewar Cup, this year’s winner will earn $250,000 and a berth in the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League. The runner-up will take home $60,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each division beneath Division I will earn a $15,000 cash prize.
With the rapid growth of soccer in the U.S. consistently increasing the number of professional and amateur teams in recent years, a handful of changes have been made to the 2014 edition of the U.S. Open Cup competition, and some new records will be set for the competition’s modern era (1995-present):
- The 2014 tournament will feature a modern-era-record 80 teams, which is an increase from the last year’s record of 68 that took the field for the 100th anniversary edition of the Open Cup.
- The 2014 expansion results in both the largest number of amateur teams (42) in the tournament proper—exceeding the previous record of 34 set last year—as well as the largest contingent of pro clubs (38, surpassing last year’s record of 34). All Division I (MLS), II (NASL) and III (USL PRO) professional U.S. clubs will participate for the third consecutive year.
- An additional record will be set for the number of matches held in a single round when the competition stages 24 second-round matches this year, exceeding the previous high of 18 set in the 2013 first round.
- Numerous pro teams may have to play their fourth-round Open Cup match on a weekend date (a first in the competition’s modern era). This scheduling change is the result of a league break Division I and II clubs will take during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Since 1995, the tournament has once again increased in prominence and prestige among the country’s professional clubs. Following is a quick look at the most recent history of the U.S. Open Cup:
- In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.
- The USOC is open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer.
- D.C. United is the defending USOC champion, having won its third tournament title (following triumphs in 1996 and 2008) after a 1-0 road victory over Real Salt Lake on Oct. 1, 2013.
- Modern Era winners: Chicago Fire (4: ‘98, ‘00, ‘03, ’06); Seattle Sounders FC (3: ’09, ’10, ’11); D.C. United (3: ’96, ’08, ’13); LA Galaxy (2: ’01, ’05); Sporting KC (2: ’04, ’12), Columbus Crew (’02), FC Dallas (’97), New England Revolution (’07), Rochester Rhinos (’99), Richmond Kickers (’95).
- Only two non-MLS teams have won the Cup in the modern era – The Richmond Kickers in 1995 and the Rochester Rhinos in 1999. The Rhinos are the only non-MLS team to win the Cup since MLS began pay in 1996.
- The Charleston Battery are the only lower division pro team besides Rochester to reach the final since MLS’ inception, losing 2-1 to D.C. United in 2008. Rochester also lost to United when both teams made their first final in 1996.