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US Open Cup 101

Atlanta United's quest for silverware continues again this year in America's oldest cup competition, the U.S. Open Cup. No it's not the Supporters' Shield or the MLS Cup. So what is it? Here's everything you need to know:

  • Founded for the 1913-14 season, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest soccer competition in the United States and is the third longest-running soccer tournament in the world.
  • The competition was known as the National Challenge Cup from 1914 to 1999, when it was renamed and dedicated to MLS owner and American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.
  • Similar to other domestic cups worldwide, the U.S. Open Cup is a knockout-style tournament.
  • The annual tournament is open to all amateur and professional soccer teams in the United States. In 2018, 99 teams from 30 different states will compete, making this year’s field the largest in modern-era U.S. Open Cup history.
  • Based on the United States soccer league system, teams in respective leagues are awarded automatic byes into certain rounds. MLS teams are automatically awarded byes into the Fourth Round, which consists of 32 teams. Clubs in the second-tier of American soccer (NASL and USL) are awarded byes into the Second Round.
  • With the exception of reserve teams, all clubs within the top two tiers of the U.S. Soccer system (MLS, NASL, USL) are automatically qualified for the tournament. Amateur clubs affiliated with the United States Adult Soccer Association have to qualify for the tournament based on certain criteria in their respective leagues.
  • The number of participants in the main draw of the tournament has more than doubled since 2011 when the field was just 40 teams. That number has grown in recent years to 64 (2012), 68 (2013), 80 (2014) and 91 (2015).

More information and the complete history of the tournament, click here.