After two years on the shelf, The Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup is back for the 2022 season and its 107th rendition. Dating back to the 1913-14 season, this tournament is the longest-running soccer competition in the United States.
Over 100 teams from eight different leagues began the tournament and, when the third round concludes tonight, the field will be pared down to 32 remaining clubs. Sporting Kansas City will enter the tournament in the Round of 32 and compete for the club’s fifth tournament title with the draw set for Thursday at 11 a.m. CT on the U.S. Soccer YouTube channel and at @opencup on Twitter.
Below we will highlight the history of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, talk about Sporting KC’s successes in the competition and highlight information fans might not know or could have forgotten during the two-year break.
A brief history of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
In 1913, The National Challenge Cup began as the United States’ first true nationwide soccer championship. Both amateur and professional clubs competed in the tournament with Brooklyn Field Club taking home the inaugural title.
The winners of the tournament took home the Dewar Cup, donated by Sir Thomas Dewar, until 1979 when a new trophy was created. Teams who win the U.S. Open Cup still have their name engraved on the base of the original trophy, now on display at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas.
Bethlehem Steel and Maccabee Los Angeles have each won the tournament a record five times with Sporting KC having four Cup titles to their name. Since MLS’s inception, clubs from the league have dominated the tournament winning the cup every year since 1996 except for once in 1999 when the Rochester Rhinos claimed the title.
Sporting KC’s Successes
Enough about the success of other clubs. Let’s talk about one of the most successful clubs in the 107-year history of the tournament, Sporting Kansas City. Despite only being around for less than a quarter of all Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups, Sporting ranks third amongst all American soccer teams with four cup wins.
The first title came in 2004 when the then Kansas City Wizards knocked off fellow MLS side Chicago Fire. Igor Simutenkov scored the match’s only goal, five minutes into sudden-death overtime at Arrowhead Stadium, giving the Wizards their first Open Cup title and the club’s third trophy overall.
Eight years later, Kansas City hosted another Open Cup final. This time it was Sporting Kansas City playing at state-of-the-art Children’s Mercy Park in front of 19,000 fans. Sporting’s opponent, the Seattle Sounders, knotted the match up at one apiece in the 86th minute and the match was forced to a penalty shootout. Seattle missed three consecutive kicks from the spot and Sporting took home their second Open Cup trophy on the fifth kick.
It only took three more years for Sporting to find themselves back in the final match of the Open Cup, this time on the road against the Philadelphia Union. Again, Sporting went to penalties after the match ended 1-1. Eight kick takers stepped up to the spot for both teams with Sporting outlasting the Union 7-6, collecting their third Open Cup, and second in three seasons.
Sporting’s most recent Open Cup glory came in 2017, back in front of the home fans. Daniel Salloi scored in a 2-1 Sporting KC win over the New York Red Bulls in front of a packed Children’s Mercy Park.
As Sporting joins the 2022 Open Cup, they enter as a side with lots of tournament experience on the roster. Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes has been in charge of three of Sporting’s four titles, and defender Graham Zusi has started in three as well.
Roger Espinoza is Sporting’s all-time leader in Open Cup matches played with 21 appearances under his belt. Salloi leads all active Sporting players with five goals, Zusi leads all active players with six assists and Tim Melia has 10 Open Cup wins under his belt, the most in club history.
Things to keep in mind
The 2022 Open Cup began with the first-round draw on February 2nd. MLS teams entered the tournament in the third round which began Tuesday night. Thanks to a top-four finish in the Western Conference in 2021, Sporting KC earned an automatic bid into the Round of 32 which will kick off on May 10-11.
The draw is set for Thursday morning as Sporting will be grouped geographically into a group of four. With Sporting’s very central location there are a wide variety of opponents that they could be grouped in with. Sporting will know their group after the conclusion of tonight’s Third Round matches.
The home team for each match is determined at the draw so it is not known if Children’s Mercy Park will host Sporting’s Round of 32 match. If Sporting does host, tickets will be available for purchase via SeatGeek.com.
The magic of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is about to start for Sporting KC. One of the most successful clubs in the history of the tournament is about to enter the fold. Sporting is one title away from being the most prestigious MLS club in the Open Cup and it all starts with Thursday’s draw.