Sporting Kansas City will enter the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the Fourth Round, U.S. Soccer announced today. The 2019 tournament, serving as U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, will see Sporting KC begin their title pursuit on June 12 in the Round of 32 alongside 20 other MLS clubs and 11 lower-division teams. Manager Peter Vermes’ side will learn their Fourth Round opponent during the Fourth Round Draw on May 30.
U.S. Soccer has finalized the format and schedule for the 106th edition of the U.S. Open Cup, which will kick off May 7-8 and feature 84 clubs from all levels. The storied competition will culminate in late August with America’s soccer champion lifting the U.S. Open Cup trophy after eight rounds of single-elimination play.
An all-time record of 52 professional clubs will participate in this year’s tournament, an indication of the impressive growth of pro soccer in the United States. The 2019 U.S. Open Cup winner will claim $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League and have its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest trophies in American team sports and now on display at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas. The runner-up will earn $100,000, while the club that advances the furthest from each lower division below Major League Soccer will secure $25,000.
Sporting KC are four-time U.S. Open Cup champions, having hoisted the title in 2004, 2012, 2015 and 2017. The Houston Dynamo enter 2019 as reigning champions thanks to their 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union last September.
Each round of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup will be conducted in a single-match, knockout-style format. Contests that are tied after 90 minutes of regulation time proceed to a full 30 minutes of extra time. If still tied after 120 minutes, a penalty kick shootout will decide the winner. Home teams will be determined by random selection among those who apply to host on a round-by-round basis.
Professional teams who are majority-owned or otherwise controlled by higher division professional clubs are expressly excluded from Open Cup competition—including the Swope Park Rangers, the USL affiliate of Sporting KC.
The U.S. Open Cup has crowned a champion annually since 1914, making it the oldest ongoing soccer competition in the U.S. and the world’s third-longest continuously running soccer tournament. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt, who owned Kansas City’s MLS club from its founding until 2006.
2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule, Format and Other Key Dates
First Round: May 7-8
- Number of Games: 19
- Participants: 32 Open Division teams and six Division III (USL League One) clubs
- Competition: Teams will be paired geographically with the restriction that teams from the same qualifying pool (i.e. local qualifiers, NPSL, USL League Two, USL League One) cannot be paired to play each other. The restriction may be disregarded if doing so avoids extensive travel on balance for the participating teams.
Second Round: May 14-15
- Number of Games: 22
- Participants: 19 First Round winners and 25 Division II (USL Championship) clubs
- Competition: After the First Round pairings are made, each pairing will be matched geographically to a specific Division II team, with the First Round winner playing the assigned Division II side. The six remaining Division II squads will be paired to play each other, with these pairings also made geographically.
Third Round: May 29
- Number of Games: 11
- Participants: 22 Second Round winners play each other
- Competition: After each Second Round matchup has been determined, the Second Round pairs will be bracketed geographically to create the Third Round matchups, with the Second Round winners playing each other.
Fourth Round Draw: May 30
The 11 Third Round winners and 21 Division I (Major League Soccer) clubs will be divided geographically into eight groups of four, with teams who are precluded from playing each other until the Final per tournament regulations (i.e. pro teams and their affiliated Open Division sides) placed in different groups. Each group will have at least one and no more than two Third Round winners, with pairs drawn randomly but done so that each Third Round winner faces an MLS team.
Fourth Round: June 12
- Number of Games: 16
- Participants: 11 Third Round winners and 21 Division I (MLS) clubs.
- Competition: Eleven games will be between Third Round winners and MLS teams, while the remaining five matchups will be MLS vs. MLS affairs.
Round of 16 Draw: June 13
The Fourth Round winners will be divided geographically (regardless of league affiliation) into groups of four, with teams who are precluded from playing each other until the Final per tournament regulations (i.e. pro teams and their affiliated Open Division sides) placed in different groups. A random draw will determine the pairings within each group, resulting in a fixed bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Should a precluded pair of teams reach the Semifinal Round and be scheduled to face each other, the matches will be re-drawn after the Quarterfinal Round to avoid this outcome.
Round of 16: June 19* (also June 18-23 if home team chooses and visiting team has at least three non-game days on each side of chosen date, with any overlap of U.S. MNT Gold Cup games on June 18 and June 22 disallowed)
- Number of Games: 8
- Competition: Fourth Round winners face each other as determined by the Round of 16 Draw.
Quarterfinals: July 10
Draw to Determine Hosts for Semifinals and Final: July 11
Semifinals: Aug. 7
Final: Aug. 27 or 28
* Any game from the Fourth Round through to the Semifinal Round where one of the participants has a league game the following Friday will be moved up a day (exception to this occurs when the team's opponent is scheduled for a league game the preceding Sunday; in this case, the provisions in the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Handbook to determine the match date will prevail). In addition, any game chosen by U.S. Soccer to be broadcast nationally in any round is subject to being moved up a day. The Commissioner has the authority to set outside of the confirmed schedule the date for any match if such a change is in the best interests of the tournament.
2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Participating Teams
Professional Division Teams Eligible to Participate (52 total):
- Division I - Major League Soccer (21 teams, entering in the Fourth Round): Atlanta United FC, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, D.C. United, FC Cincinnati, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo (defending Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champions), Los Angeles FC, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City
- Division II - USL Championship (25 teams, entering in the Second Round): Austin Bold FC, Birmingham Legion FC, Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, El Paso Locomotive FC, Fresno FC, Hartford Athletic, Indy Eleven, Las Vegas Lights FC, Louisville City FC, Memphis 901 FC, Nashville SC, New Mexico United, North Carolina FC, OKC Energy FC, Orange County SC, Phoenix Rising FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Reno 1868 FC, Sacramento Republic FC, Saint Louis FC, San Antonio FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tulsa Roughnecks FC
- Division III - USL League One (6 teams, entering in the First Round): Chattanooga Red Wolves SC, Forward Madison FC, Greenville Triumph SC, Lansing Ignite FC, Richmond Kickers, South Georgia Tormenta FC
Open Division Teams in Tournament Proper (32 total, all entering in the First Round):
- USL League Two (10 teams, listed alphabetically): Black Rock FC (Conn.), Brazos Valley Cavalry FC (Texas), Dayton Dutch Lions (Ohio), Des Moines Menace (Iowa), FC Golden State Force (Calif.), Lakeland Tropics (Fla.), New York Red Bulls U23, Reading United AC (Pa.), South Georgia Tormenta FC 2, The Villages SC (Fla.).
USL League Two, formerly called the Premier Development League, is a nationwide league affiliated with U.S. Soccer and opted to use 2018 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2019 Open Cup.
- National Premier Soccer League (14 teams, listed alphabetically): AFC Ann Arbor (Mich.), Duluth FC (Minn.), El Farolito (Calif.), Erie Commodores FC (Pa.), FC Baltimore (Md.), FC Motown (N.J.), FCM Portland (Ore.), Laredo Heat SC (Texas), Little Rock Rangers (Ark.), Miami FC (Fla.), Midland-Odessa Sockers FC (Texas), New York Cosmos B (N.Y.), Orange County FC (Calif.), Philadelphia Lone Star FC (Pa.).
The NPSL is a nationwide league affiliated with the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and opted to use 2018 league results to determine its qualifiers for the 2019 Open Cup.
- 2018 U.S. Adult Soccer Association National Amateur Cup champion: Bavarian SC (Wis.)
- Local Qualifiers: winners of seven Fourth Qualifying Round games