What is the US Open Cup? Domestic knockout soccer tournament in United States over 100 years old
Lionel Messi and Inter Miami are in the mix for yet another trophy, as the Argentine superstar looks to continue his early explosion as a part of the U.S. Soccer landscape.
After winning the 2023 Leagues Cup, Messi will now look to usher Inter Miami through the latter stages of the U.S. Open Cup, the top knockout soccer competition in the United States.
Inter Miami are into the semifinals of the tournament, set to face FC Cincinnati, who lead the MLS standings to this point. The other semifinal features the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake, both of whom currently sit in playoff positions in the Western Conference league standings.
The Sporting News brings you everything about the history, games, name, and more with the U.S. Open Cup now stepping into the limelight.
What is the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup?
In its 108th year of existence for the 2023 competition, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States.
The U.S. Open Cup is currently the top knockout soccer competition in the country, much like the FA Cup in England or the Copa del Rey in Spain.
In its current format, clubs from all professional leagues in the United States are eligible to participate. Those leagues include Major League Soccer (MLS), USL Championship, USL League One, National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the United States Adult Soccer Association (USAAA), and US Club Soccer. At least 80 clubs have participated since 2014, and in 2023, 99 teams were involved.
First held in 1914, it was originally dubbed the “National Challenge Cup” and kept that name until 1999. That year, the competition was renamed to its current iteration, which honors former NASL and MLS executive Lamar Hunt, who was the principal founder of both leagues and is credited with ushering U.S. club soccer into the modern age.
US Open Cup champions all-time
No team has won more than five U.S. Open Cup championships in the competition’s history, which spans over 100 years, proving the parity across soccer in the United States over the years.
Of the two clubs with five titles, neither remains in existence. Bethlehem Steel FC dissolved in 1930 after 23 years of play (not to be confused with the USL club founded in 2015, which is now Philadelphia Union II), while Maccabee Athletic Club only played from 1971-1982.
Amongst Major League Soccer clubs, which currently make up the top flight of the American soccer hierarchy, three are tied for the most U.S. Open Cup titles: Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting KC have all won four.
Eleven MLS clubs have won U.S. Open Cup titles, meaning there are 19 top-flight sides currently in existence that have never won the competition.
Clubs with U.S. Open Cup titles all-time
5 titles: Bethlehem Steel, Maccabee Los Angeles.
4 titles: Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC, Fall River FC, Greek American AA, Philadelphia Ukrainians.
3 titles: DC United, NY Pancyprian-Freedoms.
2 titles: FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, Brooklyn Hispano, Brooklyn Italians, Elizabeth SC, Greek-American AC, Harmarville Hurricanes, LA Kickers, NY Americans, St. Louis Kutis, St. Louis Simpkins-Ford, Chicago Sparta, Stix Baer and Fuller FC.
1 title*: Atlanta United, Columbus Crew, Houston Dynamo, New England Revolution, Orlando City SC, AAC Eagles, El Farolito, New York Hota Bavarian FC, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, San Francisco Italian Athletic Club, San Jose Oaks, St. Petersburg Kickers.
*Due to the huge list of now-defunct clubs who won this competition in its early days, this list only reflects teams currently in operation in the present-day U.S. Soccer setup, as well as some select historically significant clubs no longer in existence.
U.S. Open Cup champions since 2000
The last lower-league team to win a U.S. Open Cup came in 1999 when the now-defunct Rochester Rhinos defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-0 in that year’s final.
|2022||Orlando City||3-0||Sacramento Republic|
|2019||Atlanta United||2-1||Minnesota United|
|2018||Houston Dynamo||3-0||Philadelphia Union|
|2017||Sporting KC||2-1||NY Red Bulls|
|2016||FC Dallas||4-2||New England Revolution|
|2015||Sporting KC||1-1**||Philadelphia Union|
|2014||Seattle Sounders||3-1*||Philadelphia Union|
|2013||DC United||1-0||Real Salt Lake|
|2012||Sporting KC||1-1**||Seattle Sounders|
|2011||Seattle Sounders||2-0||Chicago Fire|
|2010||Seattle Sounders||2-1||Columbus Crew|
|2009||Seattle Sounders||2-1||DC United|
|2008||DC United||2-1||Charleston Battery|
|2007||New England Revolution||3-2||FC Dallas|
|2006||Chicago Fire||3-1||LA Galaxy|
|2005||LA Galaxy||1-0||FC Dallas|
|2004||KC Wizards||1-0*||Chicago Fire|
|2003||Chicago Fire||1-0||NY MetroStars|
|2002||Columbus Crew||1-0||LA Galaxy|
|2001||LA Galaxy||2-1*||New England Revolution|
|2000||Chicago Fire||2-1||Miami Fusion|
* Final went to extra-time
** Final was decided via penalty shootout
The U.S. Open Cup was not held during the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2023 US Open Cup
Lionel Messi and Inter Miami are gunning for the 2023 U.S. Open Cup title, after securing the first trophy in the club’s history by winning the Leagues Cup.
With the final slate of MLS Clubs entering the competition in the Round of 16, below is the 2023 bracket from the Round of 16 through the final of the U.S. Open Cup. Lower league clubs are listed in italics.
|Wed, Sep. 27||TBD||Inter Miami vs. SF2 winner||Telemundo, Fubo, Paramount+|
|Wed, Aug. 23||7 p.m.||FC Cincinnati 3-3 Inter Miami*|
(Inter Miami advance 5-4 on pens)
|Wed, Aug. 23||9:30 p.m.||Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake||Paramount+|
|Tue, Jun. 6||7 p.m.||FC Cincinnati 3-1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds|
|Tue, Jun. 6||8:30 p.m.||Chicago Fire 1-4 Houston Dynamo|
|Wed, Jun. 7||8 p.m.||Birmingham Legion 0-1 Inter Miami|
|Wed, Jun. 7||9:30 p.m.||Real Salt Lake 3-2 LA Galaxy|
Round of 16
|Tue, May 23||7:30 p.m.||Inter Miami 2-1 Nashville SC|
|Tue, May 23||7:30 p.m.||NY Red Bulls 1-1 FC Cincinnati*|
|Tue, May 23||8:30 p.m.||Houston Dynamo 4-0 Minnesota United|
|Tue, May 23||10:30 p.m.||LAFC 0-2 LA Galaxy|
|Wed, May 24||7 p.m.||Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1-0 Columbus Crew|
|Wed, May 24||7 p.m.||Birmingham Legion 1-0 Charlotte FC|
|Wed, May 24||9 p.m.||Austin FC 0-2 Chicago Fire|
|Wed, May 24||10 p.m.||Colorado Rapids 0-1 Real Salt Lake|
* Team advanced via penalty shootout