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Crash Course: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup 101

April 15, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Rhode Island FC News Release

Rhode Island FC's inaugural Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign is set to kick off on Tuesday, April 6 when the club travels to American Legion Memorial Stadium to take on USL League One side Charlotte Independence at 7 p.m. The match will be Rhode Island FC's first-ever taste of non-USL Championship action, so what exactly is the Open Cup? Here's everything you need to know about the longest-running soccer tournament in the United States.


The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the longest continuously-running men's national soccer tournament in the United States, with its origins dating back to the founding of the United States Football Association (Now the United States Soccer Federation) in 1913, when the tournament began as the National Challenge Cup. The cancellation of the competition in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic ended a stretch of 106 years of consecutive play, and the 2024 installment marks the 108th edition of America's most historic soccer tournament. The single-elimination style competition is known for being the only one of its kind that brings together amateur and professional teams. Most recently, Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo brought home the trophy in 2023.


This year's Open Cup will feature 96 participating clubs from across the United States. The First Round featured 32 matchups exclusively between amateur and professional teams. The professional teams from Division III included 12 from USL League One, 11 from MLS Next Pro and nine from the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA). On the amateur side, the teams making up the Open Division were composed of 11 from USL League Two, eight from the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the USASA National Amateur Cup Winner, the UPSL Spring Champion and 11 winners from four rounds of Local Qualifiers. The 32 First Round winners advanced to the Second Round, where the same teams competed for a spot in the Third Round. The 16 winners were then drawn into matchups with 16 new professional entrants from the USL Championship (Division II), including Rhode Island FC. Winners from the Third Round will advance to the Round of 32, where they will be drawn into matchups with the final 16 entrants: the eight top performing 2023 USL Championship clubs and eight teams from Major League Soccer.


Each year, the winner of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup receives $300,000 in prize money and an automatic berth to the following season's CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) Champions Cup, North America's premier regional club competition. The Open Cup runners-up receive $100,000, while the highest-advancing club from each lower division takes home $25,000.


Following the completion of the competition's Open Division Local Qualifiers (fall 2023), First Round (March 19-21) and Second Round (April 2-3, 2024), the Third Round of the Open Cup takes place between April 16-17. Rhode Island FC will play its Third Round match on April 16 in Charlotte at 7 p.m. Third Round winners advance to the Round of 32, which runs from May 7-8. The tournament then gets narrowed down to its final field of teams in the Round of 16, played from May 21-22. Seven weeks later, the Open Cup Quarterfinals take place from July 9-10. From there, the Semifinals kickoff on August 27 and 28 before the Final is held on September 25.

Round Dates

Open Division Local Qualifiers Fall 2023

First Round Tuesday, March 19 - Thursday, March 21

Second Round Tuesday, April 2 - Wednesday, April 3

Third Round Tuesday, April 16 - Wednesday, April 17

Round of 32 Tuesday, May 7 - Wednesday, May 8

Round of 16 Tuesday, May 21 - Wednesday, May 22

Quarterfinal Tuesday, July 9 - Wednesday, July 10

Semifinal Tuesday, Aug. 27 - Wednesday, Aug. 28

Final Wednesday, Sept. 25


Fans can stream the U.S. Open Cup live via, and Fans can also cheer on RIFC on Tuesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. ET from the Official Rhode Island FC Watch Party at Moniker Brewery in Providence.

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