A little over a week ago the format for the 2015 U.S. Open Cup was announced. It went a little bit unnoticed by STLFC fans. I don’t think the club did a good enough job of pointing out the fact that they’re playing in the Cup and what it means. So, here’s my amateurish explanation of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
This season’s edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (or U.S. Open Cup) is the 102nd edition of this competition and features 91 teams competing for the trophy. It is the oldest surviving national soccer championship in the United States and one of the oldest in the world. If you’re a fan of English Soccer you know about the FA Cup- this is basically our version of that competition.
Theoretically any soccer team in the US can qualify for, and win, the tournament. The Cup is open to amateur and professional teams alike. Every year there is a qualifying process for teams that wish to participate. The familiar leagues that take part are the NPSL, PDL, USL, NASL & MLS (but you don’t have to be in one of those to qualify). Like in the FA Cup, the amateur teams qualify and start the knock-outs before the pro teams enter the competition. The basic rounds of the 2015 tournament are this:
Round 1: 21 games on May 13 between NPSL, PDL and other Amateur teams.
Round 2: 21 games on May 20 between the 21 USL teams and the winners of Rd 1.
Round 3: 15 games on May 27 between 9 NASL teams and the winners of Rd. 2.
Round 4: 16 games on June 16&17 between 17 MLS teams and winners of Rd. 3.
After round 4, the 8 teams remaining are placed in a draw following certain restrictions and then the final rounds are a straight knock out tournament. The final of the 2015 US Open Cup will be played on September 29th.
If that was too hard to follow there will be links at the end of this article that will hopefully help to clear it up. BUT, the takeaway is- STLFC will enter the tournament in the 2nd Round. If we win, we move on to face either an NASL side or another USL side. If we win that game we move on to face an MLS team.
Yes, MLS teams tend to be dominant once they enter the tournament. (The Seattle Sounders won the 2014 Cup) And they should be, with salary structures many times that of most USL or NASL clubs. But that’s not to say it’s a guarantee. Just like in the FA Cup, sometimes the little team beats the giant. And that is the magic of this tournament. As recently as 1999 a USL side (Rochester Rhinos) hoisted the cup after beating MLS teams. Every year a smaller team does some damage in the tournament and becomes a Cinderella team- maybe not to win, but to be the team that spoils another team’s dreams and the team that the rest of the nation roots for.
St. Louis has a history in the U.S. Open Cup. Teams like Stix, Baer & Fuller, Simpkins-Ford and Kutis all won multiple titles back in the day. Just a few short years ago, AC St. Louis was in the tournament and went out West to play and almost steal a game from the LA Galaxy.
Look, I know the chances of STLFC winning the US Open Cup are slim to none, but tournaments like this should be appreciated. This is a chance for our team to prove themselves against everyone in the country. A chance for a big game vs an MLS team at home or away. Another opportunity for us to cheer for our guys. I’m excited for this tournament and frankly wish STLFC would have made a bigger deal about it when the format was released. This is all part of the experience that we’re buying into as fans. I believe in Chupacabras and I believe in Saint Louis FC.
For more information about the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, click the links below: