On Tuesday night, the Earthquakes take on the Portland Timbers in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. But what exactly is the Open Cup?
Dating back to 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is one of the oldest annual competitions in the world and certainly the oldest in United States soccer. Open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the States, the tournament features a single-elimination format.
The Cup allows smaller amateur clubs the opportunity to compete against the biggest and best the U.S. has to offer. Among the non-MLS teams the Earthquakes have faced in the competition are the Stanislaus United Cruisers (USL; 2000), Central Coast Roadrunners (PDL; 2001), Milwaukee Rampage (USL; 2001), Minnesota Thunder (USL; 2004) and Charleston Battery (USL; 2013).
The tournament has also allowed non-traditional rivalries to start. For example, the Carolina Railhawks of the North American Soccer League hosted and defeated the LA Galaxy three years in a row from 2012-14, prompting then Galaxy forward Landon Donovan to say, “We’re sick of losing to Carolina and we’re sick of going out of the Open Cup early.”
The Cup was renamed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 1999 to honor the long-time soccer supporter and pioneer. Hunt, who passed away 10 years ago, was one of the sport’s first major ownership figures in the United States and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. His family continues to own and operate FC Dallas in Major League Soccer.
The winning team of the U.S. Open Cup has its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy, which is located at the home of U.S. Soccer in Chicago. Sporting Kansas City are the defending champions after defeating the Philadelphia Union by way of penalty kicks last season.
The furthest the Quakes have advanced in the Cup was in 2004 when the club reached the Semifinals, eventually falling to the Kansas City Wizards 1-0 in Overland Park, Kansas.