U.S. Soccer announced the schedule and format for the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Friday. Defending champion Sporting Kansas City will enter this year’s tournament with 16 other MLS clubs in the fourth round, set for June 15.
Sporting Kansas City lifted the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after a road victory over the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 30 at PPL Park. The sides battled to a 1-1 draw through regulation before Sporting KC prevailed 7-6 in an eight-round penalty shootout to secure its third Open Cup title.
Per U.S. Soccer policy, MLS-owned USL teams are ineligible to participate in the 2016 U.S. Open Cup, ruling the Swope Park Rangers out of the competition.
The 103rd edition of the tournament will kick off on May 11 and feature a single-elimination, knockout format through the final on Sept. 21. This year’s competition involves 92 teams, making it the largest field during the modern era (1995-present).
Amateur teams will comprise 48 of the 92 entries and will enter the tournament in the first round. The remaining 44 participants encompass Division III (USL), Division II (NASL) and Division I (MLS) professional clubs, which will enter in the second, third and fourth rounds, respectively. For the second straight year, a geographically based random draw will result in a fixed bracket from the Round of 16 onward.
Teams will be paired geographically via the following format:
- First Round: May 11
- 48 teams (14 local qualifiers, 19 PDL sides and 15 NPSL clubs)
- Second Round: May 18
- 42 teams (18 USL clubs join 24 winners from the first round)
- Each USL club will be paired against a winner from the first round
- Third Round: June 1
- 30 teams (nine NASL clubs join the 21 winners from the second round)
- Each NASL club will be paired with a USL or amateur opponent
- Fourth Round: June 15
- 32 teams (17 MLS clubs join the 15 winners from the third round)
- All but two MLS clubs will be paired with a lower-division opponent
- Fifth Round Draw: June 16 — The 16 winners from the fourth round will be divided geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, resulting in a fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament.
- Round of 16: June 29
- Quarterfinals: July 20
- Semifinals: Aug. 10
- Final: Sept. 21
The 2016 winner will receive $250,000, clinch a berth in the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League and have its name engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest nationally contested trophies in American team sports. The runner-up will take $60,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will earn $15,000.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is recognized as U.S. Soccer's National Club Championship and is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 102 consecutive years since 1914 and Sporting Kansas City has claimed the tournament title three times (2004, 2012, 2015), third most among MLS clubs behind four-time winners Seattle Sounders FC and the Chicago Fire.
In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt, who played an integral role in founding Major League Soccer and owned the Kansas City Wizards from 1996-2006.