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Local Qualifying for the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup NOW OPEN!

07/20/2021, 7:45pm EDT
By Paul Marstaller Commissioner Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

The first U.S. Open Cup was played in 1914, making it the oldest cup competition for soccer in the United States and the country’s oldest annual tournament for team sports. While professional soccer came and went in various forms and incarnations, at various stages of the 20th century, the Open Cup crowned a champion for each of the last 104 years. Even through the want and woe of the Great Depression and the challenges of two World Wars, the U.S. Open Cup survived. Teams from 17 different states have won the title.


Any Amateur Team Affiliated with U.S. Soccer and Meeting Basic Criteria May Enter;
Deadline to Apply is Monday, Aug. 9 at 2 p.m. CT

CHICAGO (July 20, 2021) - U.S. Soccer is now accepting applications from local amateur teams to enter the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer's National Championship. The entry deadline is Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, at 2 p.m. CT.

The historic annual tournament, preparing to kick off its 107th edition, is the only high-profile competition in American team sports where amateur sides have the opportunity to face professionals in meaningful competition.

Any U.S. Soccer-affiliated team outside of the professional leagues (Division I Major League Soccer, Division II USL Championship and Division III National Independent Soccer Association and USL League One) and outside of any amateur league that chooses the Open Division National Leagues track (which the National Premier Soccer League and USL League Two have done in recent years, using league results from the previous year to determine its qualifiers) may enter the Open Division Local Qualifying track.

To be eligible, a team must meet basic criteria spelled out in U.S. Soccer's Open Cup Policy, including belonging to a club or league of any Organization Member of U.S. Soccer and competing in a league with at least four teams where each plays at least ten league games during the year. Teams may enter by submitting an official application via an online portal at and paying the appropriate entry fee and performance bond.

•     2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Open Division Handbook (includes Open Cup Policy)

•     REGISTER - 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Qualifying

After certifying a team's eligibility to participate, U.S. Soccer will process rosters for approval, arrange matches, appoint match commissioners and officiating crews, administer discipline, promote the games in advance/their results afterwards and provide a clear path through the qualifying rounds to the final tournament.

Open Division Local Qualifying will be conducted on a single-game, knockout basis, with up to four rounds of matches in fall 2021, all scheduled for designated weekend dates.

All Local Qualifying entrants, regardless of level, Organization Member affiliation or other attributes, will start on equal footing and must be able to host games in every qualifying round.

Matches will be determined geographically to minimize travel time and expense, with random selection used when practicable to determine exact pairings. Home teams will be determined by coin flip and will be responsible for arranging the field of play, game balls, paying the officials and other expenses relating to staging games, while each visiting team will cover its own travel-related costs (except for any portion of U.S. Soccer-subsidized airfare costs, if flights are necessary). U.S. Soccer will appoint the match officials.

A preliminary allocation of 2022 U.S. Open Cup First Round slots to each of the Open Division qualifying pools (i.e.: Local Qualifiers and each National League entered) will be announced shortly after the local qualifying entry deadline. The final allocation will be determined in January 2022 after the Division I, II and III professional team confirmation deadline on Dec. 31, 2021.


Below are the criteria for teams to participate in local qualifying for the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (see 2022 Open Division Handbook for complete details):

  • Belong to a club or league of any Organization Member of U.S. Soccer
  • Compete in a regular (i.e.: ongoing) league competition with at least four teams, with each team playing at least ten league games during the year
  • Provide a home field that meets tournament minimum standards for local qualifying (field at least 100 yds. x 65 yds.) for each qualifying round and identify that venue at the time of registration (see dates below)
  • Remain as a member in good standing in the same league from the summer of 2021 to the end of the tournament in 2022

2021-2022 KEY DATES:

Aug. 9 (2 p.m. CT): Team application and entry fee deadline for Local Qualifying track

Aug. 18: U.S. Soccer announces teams approved for local qualifying and preliminary allocation of First Round slots among Open Division qualifying pools

Aug. 23: Matchups for first qualifying round announced

Sept. 1 (4 p.m. CT): Fall roster submission deadline for teams in Local Qualifying track

Sept. 18-19: First qualifying round

Oct. 16-17: Second qualifying round

Nov. 20-21: Third qualifying round

Jan. 6, 2022: Final allocation of First Round slots among Open Division qualifying pools announced

Davids and Goliaths

The romance of the U.S. Open Cup derives, in large part, from its format as a single-elimination competition open to all affiliated professional and amateur teams in the United States. $250,000 in prize money is on offer to the winner of the 2017 event, an unfathomable amount for the hopeful amateurs from the Open Division. And while a non-Major League Soccer side hasn’t won since the Rochester Rhinos did it back in 1999, the dream of a fairytale scramble to the final is a spur for those small sides who play for the love of the game. Financial inducements don’t stop with the champions, either, as the runner-up collects $60,000 and the team that advances farthest from each lower division gets $15,000. 

Magical Moments

Some of the most magical moments in recent Open Cup history have occurred by local qualifiers making headlines:

  • In 2012, Cal FC burst onto the scene with road wins over the Division III Wilmington Hammerheads and Division I Portland Timbers before falling in the Round of 16 to the then three-time defending Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders.
  • In 2016, another Southern California side, La Máquina ("The Machine"), reached the Fourth Round and pushed the LA Galaxy to extra-time before dropping a 4-1 result.
  • In 2017, amateur powerhouse Christos FC from Maryland earned a shock 1-0 win over the then-Division II Richmond Kickers as part of its run to the Fourth Round, where it led three-time Open Cup champs D.C. United briefly but ultimately fell after conceding three late goals.
  • In 2019, the first-time qualifier Florida Soccer Soldiers put their name in lights after a dramatic Second Round comeback in extra time to win in penalties over the Division II Charlotte Independence to reach the Third Round.

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