The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, known simply as the ‘Open Cup’, is the oldest cup competition in American soccer. In addition to being one of the main club tournaments in the United States, it is also a test for level-playing teams from all over the country.
The first edition took place in 1914 and with every edition that has followed, more and more professional clubs have entered the tournament. The final was played for the very first time in 1926, when Brooklyn Celtic beat Philadelphia German Americans 2-1 at West End Park. Since then, most finals have been played at either stadia with a capacity of 21,000 or more (e.g., Terrace Soccer Club’s Fredrick O’Sullivans stadium) or at venues which can accomodate large crowds (e.g., Army Military Arsenal’s Soldier Field).
Ahead of each new competition season, we take a look at how many Open Cup teams are based near where we live and work and who would be our top picks to win it; based on player availability, form and significance of their opponents as well as other relevant factors like geography and local support.
New York City FC
New York City FC are the reigning champions of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. In addition to their domestic success, they have won 4 international trophies in the past few years: the CONCACAF Champions League, the Club World Cup, and two editions of the U.S. Open Cup.
New York City FC are a team that is quickly becoming one of the most successful soccer teams in North America. In fact, they are already preparing for next season with a new coach and players because Frank Lampard left after winning last year’s league title. New York City FC will be looking to repeat as champions.
Chicago Fire SC
The Chicago Fire SC are one of the most successful clubs in the US Open Cup, with six titles in their history. The club is often referred to as the ‘Chicago FC’ or ‘Chicago Red Stars’ depending on their current female counterpart and they have a rich history in American soccer. The club was founded in 1997 and has had several stints at various levels of the American pyramid system since then. They have never made it past the group stages of U.S national team competitions but have been represented by such legendary players like Frank Yallop, David Accam and Chris Armas.
The Chicago Fire SC this season play in Major League Soccer, which will provide them with an opportunity to test themselves against some of the best teams from across North America, Europe and South America. They also host games at Toyota Park; a stadium which can hold up to 21,000 people making it one of the biggest stadiums for Open Cup games this season.
Chicago Fire SC will be competing for their first title since 2012 when they claimed the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup trophy that year by beating Seattle Sounders FC 1-0 at Toyota Park in front of over 8,000 fans.
New York Red Bulls II
New York Red Bulls II are the reigning US Open Cup champions, having won their second consecutive trophy after beating FC Cincinnati 4-2 on penalties in November 2017. The club is based in New Jersey and is owned by MLS side New York Red Bulls.
The team have been one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference of the USL Championship this season and finished fourth in the league behind only NYRB, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Nashville SC. They also reached the final of the Eastern Conference playoffs and will play at home again this time around as USL Championship teams enter into a playoff/US Open Cup doubleheader at Montclair State University’s James M. Shuart Stadium (capacity 8,500).
The club has already qualified for the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League but will be without their top scorer Dane Kelly due to his involvement with the United States U-23 team at this summer’s Olympics.
Although they are a lower division team, they would still be our top pick to win this year’s Open Cup despite their recent success.
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The Philadelphia Union will be a strong contender for the US Open Cup trophy this year. They are the reigning champions and have one of the best defenses in the league, with a record of six shutouts and only conceding three goals so far this season.
The Union’s most notable opponents for their upcoming campaign include New York Red Bulls who they face twice, Colorado Rapids twice, and Chicago Fire. The first two games will be played at Talen Energy Stadium and Chicago is at home on June 15th when the Union visit Toyota Park. If their form continues to improve, Philadelphia should be able to defend their title for another year.
Harrisburg City Islanders
: What to expect from them
Harrisburg City Islanders are an amateur soccer club based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They currently play in the USL League One and are affiliated with the MLS’s Philadelphia Union. As a team that is affiliated with the Philadelphia Union, they have received significant support from fans of their MLS counterpart and have been able to experience great success within the Open Cup.
In 2015, as part of their first season in USL League One, they reached the third round of the tournament, losing to fellow USL League One side Charleston Battery 4-1 on aggregate score. They will look to improve on those results in future seasons and continue to show strong performances at home and abroad.
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Tampa Bay Rowdies
In the last round of the 2018 US Open Cup, Tampa Bay Rowdies beat North Carolina FC in a penalty shootout.
The Rowdies are the current holders of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, having beaten FC Cincinnati 1-0 at home to win their second consecutive crown in 2017.
This year’s edition is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, May 9th and 10th, at Al Lang Stadium.
The Chicago Magic are a premier indoor soccer team based in Western Springs, Illinois. They have been and will be one of the best teams in the country and have a lot to prove this year.
With a depleted roster and several key players unavailable due to international commitments, the Magic still managed to win their first two games against Brooklyn Celtic and FC Buffalo. The club is an important part of the Chicago Fire’s youth system with 4 U19 players currently on their roster, so there is plenty of talent on this club.
Coming into their third game against Cincinnati Dutch Lions, we see that they need only a draw to be crowned champions. They have proven themselves as one of the best teams in the US Open Cup so far, so they should really be able to get past Cincinnati. Even if they don’t clinch a win tonight, expect them to take at least one point from Cincinnati.
Colorado Rapids II (feat. Trinidad and Tobago) and Colorado Rapids III (feat. Costa Rica)
Colorado Rapids II would be our top pick to take the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup this year. It is ranked second in the West Region and is a professional team from Colorado Springs, Colorado. It reached the final last year where it lost 2-1 to fellow qualifier, Sporting Kansas City.
The Trinidad and Tobago team has been a dominant force in CONCACAF even finishing as runners-up at the 2010 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Trinidad and Tobago have beaten teams like Panama, Honduras and their most recent match was against Mexico which they won 3-2.
The Costa Rica team has not had as much success but they do boast some household names like Joel Campbell who won his first cap at the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Their big win earlier this year came when they defeated Panamanian side Tauro FC 2-0 on aggregate meaning that they qualified for their first ever US Open Cup tournament.