Major League Soccer

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup explained

Lizzy Becherano
Philadelphia Union faced the Houston Dynamo in the Final - 2018 U.S. Open Cup
Philadelphia Union faced the Houston Dynamo in the Final - 2018 U.S. Open Cup / Bob Levey/GettyImages

After a two-year hiatus, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is back, and in full swing. So here’s everything you need to know about it. 

What is the U.S. Open Cup?

The nationwide tournament open to all amateur and professional teams in the United States, where anything can happen.

The competition dates back to 1913, making it the oldest current national cup tournament in the country. Until its pause in 2020, it was even one of the oldest continuously operating cup competitions in the entire world.  

How does the tournament work?  

Clubs will enter the competition at different staged based on their place in the U.S. Soccer pyramid. The first round takes place in March, and consists of the teams from the lowest division leagues; National Premier Soccer League, USL League Two and Open Division amateur qualifiers from local competitions.

The second round features the remaining lower tiers, including the USL Championship, MLS NEXT Pro and USL League One. 17 Major League Soccer teams enter in the third round, kicking off in late April, with the remaining eight going straight into the Round of 32. 

Those eight clubs are comprised of the four USA-based entrants to the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League, and the next two top regular-season finishers in the Eastern and Western Conferences. 

Due to it’s two-year break, several Major League Soccer expansion teams are featuring in the tournament for the first time ever. Nashville SC, for example, is set to debut on May 11 against Atlanta United. 

Inter Miami, Charlotte FC, Austin FC and Nashville are debuting in the competition this year.