The 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which kicks off in late April, will feature a record number of participating teams and a revised format starting at the Round of 16 setting a fixed bracket to the championship match.
The 102nd edition of the tournament will feature 91 teams, an increase from the 80 that competed last year, including the largest field of professional teams with 47 from Division I, II and III.
The tournament will be played over the course of five months with the opening play-in matches of the tournament taking place from April 22-26 and culminating with the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Sept. 29 or 30.
A significant update to the tournament format will be a new, geographically-based random draw that will determine the Round of 16 matches and set a fixed bracket to the Final. The change was implemented to minimize the possibility of clubs being required to travel long distances for matches. As in earlier editions, matches from the beginning of the tournament to the fourth round will be determined on a geographic basis, with certain restrictions in place.
This year’s winner will earn $250,000, a berth in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions’ League and have its name engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest nationally contested trophies in American team sports. The runner-up will take home $60,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will earn a $15,000 cash prize.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, recognized as U.S. Soccer’s National Club Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 101 consecutive years dating from 1914.
Seattle Sounders FC is the defending U.S. Open Cup champion, having won a fourth tournament title (following triumphs in 2009, 2010 and 2011) after a 3-1 overtime road victory against the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 16, 2014. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.
National Premier Soccer League (12 places, entering in the First Round):
Brooklyn Italians, Chattanooga FC (Tenn.), Greater Binghamton Thunder (N.Y.), Lansing United (Mich.), Miami United (Fla.), Tulsa Athletics (Okla.), Upward Star (S.C.), five others to be determined in March. The NPSL is a national amateur league affiliated with the USASA. Two NPSL clubs (Brooklyn Italians and Chattanooga FC) reached the third round in 2014.