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The US Open Cup 101: Part 2

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Founded way back in 1913, the US Open Cup is the third oldest such competition in the world. Who knew?

Credit: MLSsoccer.com

This is Part 2 of our US Open Cup 101: you can check out the first part here detailing how the tournament works.


The US Open Cup was originally founded in 1913 and competed for in 1913-14 as the National Challenge Cup. The original trophy awarded was the Dewer Cup donated by Sir Thomas Dewer, given to help the promotion of US Soccer. This means that it is the third oldest open competition in the world.

The tournament’s inaugural championship saw Brooklyn Field Club take on Brooklyn Celtic in Pawtucket, Rhode Island where Field Club defeated Celtic 2-1 to win the National Challenge Cup.

The cup was founded because previous competitions and cups were all done on a regional level and a National Cup competition helped raise the profile of the sport. This first part of the Cup's history saw records and dynasties established such as the Fall River Marksman winning the Championship four times by the time they folded in 1931 and Bethlehem Steel winning it a record five times by 1926.

When the original North American Soccer League was founded in 1968, the NASL declined to play in the US Open Cup due to various reasons. They felt playing amateur and minor league teams would diminish interest in the NASL, and that it would divert interest away from the NASL Playoffs. During the NASL era as a major league, a few new records were tied or set as between 1973 and 1982 Maccabi Los Angeles went to 7 National Challenge Cup finals and won 5 National Challenge Cup finals tying the Bethlehem Steel’s record. During that same period, Greek American Atlas Astoria from New York established a record of three consecutive titles winning the championship from 1967-1969.

In 1990, the National Challenge Cup was renamed the US Open Cup. By 1995, just one year prior to MLS being formed, US Soccer integrated the Open Cup to allow professional teams into the tournament and beginning in 1996 that included the newly founded Major League Soccer.

Since Major League Soccer was founded in 1996, only one non-MLS team won the championship as Rochester Rhinos, who were playing in the A-League at the time, beat Colorado Rapids for the 1999 USOC Championship.

The tournament was also renamed to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in 1999. Two lower level teams have made the final as the Rochester Rhinos lost 3-0 to DC United in 1996 and the Charleston Battery who lost to DC United 2-1 in the 2008 Championship.

In 2009, Seattle Sounders moved to MLS and they tied the record of three straight championships from 2009-2011, the record set in the 1960’s by Greek American Atlas Astoria.

This is the second of a three-part series covering the US Open Cup ahead of Minnesota United’s match against Sporting Kansas City. Check back on Tuesday when we detail the history of Minnesota clubs in the US Open Cup.