It might not be a surprise to find out that many fans are unaware of the centennial celebration of this year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. You may have seen the U.S. Soccer website discussing the Federation’s 100th year and tracking milestones along the way, but not much has been said about the U.S. Open Cup. Sporting Kansas City are the defending champions after taking the crown from the repeat champion Seattle Sounders. Qualification for the 2013 edition has begun, but formatting and other information has yet to be released.
The competition is the oldest in the U.S. and is open too all clubs affiliated with the Federation. The first competition was held in 1913-14 when it was called the National Challenge Cup. When the event started it succeeded where other competitions failed and were forced to go regional. Original champions were handed the Dewar Cup which is now the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The competition has been governed by the U.S. Soccer Federation for all but ten years when it was managed by the U.S. Adult Soccer Association. Past cup winners of events administered by the USASA can be seen here.
The Brooklyn Field Club won the first ever edition beating the Brooklyn Celtic at a match played in Rhode Island. The Bethlehem Steel appeared in the next five cup finals winning four of them. The Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles are tied for the most cups in history with five. Maccabi dissolved in 1982 while the Steel have been defunct since 1930. In recent years the Cup has been dominated by Major League Soccer clubs with the Rochester Rhinos securing the only non-MLS win since 1996. Teams from New York have combined to win the competition 26 times.
It is expected to be a 64 team field like in the past few years, which is nothing like England’s FA Cup with hundreds and hundreds of teams. For the first time in six years, all United States teams in Major League Soccer and the North American Soccer League will earn births into the third and second rounds respectively. For more on the structure of soccer in the U.S. check out the wiki.
Limited details have been released for the 2013 edition of the U.S. Open Cup. In recent years the confidential bidding for home matches has been a way of funding the competition and rewarding clubs that take the competition seriously.
The argument against it is obvious. It allows wealthy clubs to buy a bigger chance at the title and flies in the face of the ethos of a cup tournament, where teams from all levels of the soccer pyramid should have a relatively equal opportunity for success.
It would be nice to see a new way to determine where matches would be played. Think about the LA Galaxy having to play a match in the brand new Highmark Stadium against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
It is also unclear how a proposed partnership between the MLS and the United Soccer league may change the Cup. It has not been officially announced, but momentum for the idea has increased over the last month.
If you want to follow the full story on the cup as well as relive the memories from the 100 years in existence please check out thecup.us. They are running a series on the first cup recapping key match ups and giving us a glimpse into soccer life around World War I. You can also follow them on twitter here. If you are so inclined, they are running a campaignto help with their expanded coverage as well.
This should be an exciting year and we always love to pull for the underdogs. It is also a great way for smaller communities to rally around their local squad.