Imagine your church league basketball team won its regional tournament and continued to climb the ladder, winning matches against semi-pro teams and maybe even an NBA G League team before facing the Utah Jazz in a nationwide tournament.
That’s the reality of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for soccer teams around the country.
And while it hasn’t been since 2008 that a team outside of Major League Soccer has reached the finals and the Rochester Rhinos were the last non-MLS team to win the tournament in 1999, the U.S. Open Cup has had its share of Cinderella stories since teams first sought the tournament championship in 1914. With teams from every level of American soccer eligible for the tournament, it makes for some interesting matches throughout the tournament.
Now in the fourth round of the 2018 edition, Major League Soccer teams will be playing their first matches this week and 12 lower-division teams remain alive in their journeys.
Real Salt Lake will be among the teams that open play this week, hosting Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
With that on the schedule, here are some key facts about the tournament:
- The tournament was originally founded in 1914 and is currently organized by U.S. Soccer.
- It is the longest-running national soccer competition in the country.
- 2018 marks the 105th edition of the U.S. Open Cup.
- The tournament will continue with the Round of 16 on June 20, the quarterfinals on July 18, the semifinals August 8 and the final September 26.
- This year’s winner will earn a berth in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League and $300,000 in prize money.