Countdown to Kickoff | 15 Days: Previewing the 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

For the first time in the 25-year history of Major League Soccer, the month of February will mark the start of regular season play. On Feb. 29, clubs across the United States and Canada will step between the white lines with hopes of collecting three points to begin 2020.

A delectable opening day of MLS action will see Sporting Kansas City visit Vancouver Whitecaps FC at 9:30 p.m. CT, giving supporters their first real look at Manager Peter Vermes’ side since last October.

As the anticipated date approaches, is rolling out a 28-day countdown to first kick, offering a comprehensive preview of the season ahead. From key storylines and positional breakdowns to new fan initiatives and perks at Children’s Mercy Park, our Countdown to Kickoff series highlights the many reasons to be pumped for Sporting’s 2020 campaign. To visit the series homepage as it expands, head to

Sporting Kansas City enters 2020 with aspirations of lifting three separate trophies. The most obvious of which is MLS Cup, which will see the league crown a champion on Nov. 7 in a dramatic culmination of the MLS postseason.

Another title up for grabs is the Supporters' Shield, awarded to the MLS team with the best regular season record over the course of 34 matches.

Outside of league play, Sporting will also contend for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer's National Championship and one of the oldest domestic cup competitions in the world.

The Open Cup, as many Sporting fans know, is a tournament near and dear to the club. After all, Sporting are four-time Open Cup champions, tied for the most among MLS teams, and Manager Peter Vermes' men hoisted the trophy three times last decade. The only other side to win the Open Cup twice in the 2010s was Seattle Sounders FC.

After claiming their first Open Cup in 2004, Sporting achieved further Open Cup glory in 2012, 2015 and 2017. On each of the latter three occasions, Kansas City played five matches en route to the title. But as Sporting preps for another domestic cup run in 2020, they will have even more work to do.

U.S. Soccer announced in December its first major restructuring of the U.S. Open Cup since 2012. In a significant move, the competition format for 2020 will require 11 MLS clubs—including Sporting Kansas City—to enter in the Third Round, one round earlier than in recent years. This change will see Sporting play up to six Open Cup matches in 2020, should they reach the Final.

The remaining 12 MLS clubs slated to participate in the Open Cup, including the four American entrants to the 2020 Concacaf Champions League and the next four best American regular-season finishers in each of the Eastern and Western Conferences of MLS in 2019, will enter in the Round of 32.

The Open Cup format revision consequently increases the number of matches between MLS teams and those from lower divisions across multiple rounds of the competition starting with the Third Round, which is scheduled to take place between April 21-23.

For the second consecutive year and as part of a four-year deal, ESPN+ will be the home for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The 2020 Final could take place as late as Sept. 24.

2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Competition Schedule

  • March 24-25 First Round (Open Division teams enter)
  • April 7-9 Second Round (Division II and III teams enter)
  • April 10 Third Round Draw (Sporting learns Third Round opponent
  • April 21-23 Third Round (11 MLS teams enter, including Sporting)
  • April 24 Round of 32 Draw
  • May 19-20 Round of 32 (remaining 12 MLS teams enter)
  • May 21 Round of 16/Quarterfinal Draw
  • June 10 Possible Round of 16
  • June 23-24 Round of 16 or Quarterfinals
  • July 14-15 Quarterfinals or Semifinals
  • Aug. 11-12 Semifinals or Final
  • Sept. 22-24 Possible Final

Named after the late Lamar Hunt, Sporting Kansas City's original owner and a soccer pioneer who helped launch Major League Soccer, the Open Cup will unfold in single-elimination format through the final. If matches are tied after 90 minutes, a full 30 minutes of extra time will be played. If still deadlocked, a penalty shootout will decide the winner.

The history-filled tournament, open to all professional and amateur teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer, has crowned a champion annually since 1914. It is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States and the world's third-longest continuously running open soccer tournament.

The 2020 U.S. Open Cup winner will earn $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League and have its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest nationally-contested trophies in American team sports, now on permanent display at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas. The runner-up will earn $100,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will take home a $25,000 cash prize.

2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup: Participating MLS Teams

Teams entering in the Third Round (11): Chicago Fire FC, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, FC Cincinnati, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Inter Miami CF, Nashville SC, Orlando City SC, San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City

Teams entering in the Round of 32 (12): Atlanta United FC (defending Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion), D.C. United, LAFC, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders FC