U.S. Open Cup 101: Taking a deeper look at America's oldest soccer tournament

Wenger Open Cup Goal Cele


  • 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.
  • In 1999, U.S. Soccer renamed the tournament after Lamar Hunt, a founding member of both Major League Soccer (MLS) and the North American Soccer League (NASL). Hunt is also a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • Similar to other domestic cups worldwide, the U.S. Open Cup is a knockout-style tournament with home field determined by a coin toss.
  • The annual tournament is open to all amateur and professional soccer teams in the United States. In 2014, 80 teams competed from 11 different leagues and organizations.
  • 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 (consisting of 32 teams). Teams in the second-tier of American soccer – NASL – are awarded byes into the Third Round.
  • All teams within the top three tiers of the U.S. Soccer system (MLS, NASL, USL) are automatically qualified for the tournament. Teams in lower tiers have to qualify for the tournament based on certain criteria in their respective leagues.
  • The amount of participants in the main draw of the tournament has grown in consecutive years since 2011, growing from 40 to 64 (2012) to 68 (2013) to the current number of 80.
  • For the 2015 Cup, the winner will be awarded $250,000. The runner-up is awarded $60,000.

Local Ties

  • Philadelphia-area teams have won the tournament 10 times with the Ukrainian Nationals claiming the last championship in 1966.
  • Historic Bethlehem Steel F.C. played for the championship in five of the inaugural six years of the tournament, winning in 1915, 1916, 1918 and 1919.
  • Bethlehem Steel F.C. won their fifth and final championship in 1926 with a 7-2 win over the St. Louis-based Ben Millers at historic Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • With five championships, Bethlehem Steel F.C. is tied for the most titles (with Maccabi Los Angeles) in the Cup’s history.
  • In 1936, the Philadelphia German-Americans claimed their first and only championship in Open Cup play with a 5-2 aggregate win over the St. Louis Shamrocks. They were the first amateur team to win the competition.
  • Founded in 1950, the Philadelphia Ukrainians quickly became one of the strongest competitors in the Open Cup, finishing as a semifinalist or better in nine out of 10 years beginning in 1959.
  • The Ukrainians won their first of four championships in 1960 with a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Kickers at Edison Field in Philadelphia.
  • They followed it up with the city’s third back-to-back Open Cup Championship with a 7-4 aggregate win over the Los Angeles Scots in 1961. The second leg was held at La Salle’s McCarthy Stadium.
  • The Ukrainians would go on to win again in 1963 and 1966. They lost the championship in 1964.
  • The City of Philadelphia returned to the Open Cup Championship in 1977 with the United German-Hungarians making their first of two appearances in the championship. They lost to Maccabi Los Angeles 5-1.
  • They made their second finals appearance – the city’s last – in 1993, but ended in a 5-0 loss to C.D. Mexico.
  • Philadelphia Union reached the 2014 Championship, which was held at PPL Park, but the Union lost in extra time 3-1. They took a 1-0 lead on a Maurice Edu headed goal.

Current Ties

  • After scoring in the quarterfinals against the New England Revolution in July, Union forward Sebastien Le Toux became the U.S. Open Cup’s Modern Professional scoring leader with 14 goals.
  • Six current members of the Philadelphia Union have claimed the Cup’s trophy in their respective playing careers.
  • Manager Jim Curtin won it twice with Chicago Fire in 2003 and 2006.
  • Technical Director Chris Albright won with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005.
  • Midfielder Fred won with D.C. United in 2008.
  • Forward Sebastien Le Toux won with the Seattle Sounders in 2009.
  • Forward C.J. Sapong won with Sporting Kansas City in 2012.
  • Defender Ethan White won with D.C. United in 2013.
  • The Union have lost to the eventual Open Cup champions each of the last three years.
  • In 2012, the team’s best performance prior to 2014, the Union lost in the semifinals to Sporting Kansas City, 2-0, at PPL Park.
  • In 2013, the Union lost in the Fourth Round to D.C. United, 3-1, who went on to beat Real Salt Lake in the finals.
  • In 2014, the Union defeated Harrisburg City Islanders (3-1), New York Cosmos (2-1), New England Revolution (2-0), FC Dallas (4-3 in penalties) before falling to Seattle in the finals.
U.S. Open Cup 101: Taking a deeper look at America's oldest soccer tournament -
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