The 2000 Lamar Hunt Open Cup will have bracketing similar to a tennis tournament, with 32 teams being drawn together in the second round. The teams will then play through their brackets into the finals. Prior to the second round draw (currently scheduled for June 5 live on www.us-soccer.com), the U.S. Open Cup committee will break the teams up into two geographic regions, as much as possible, placing 16 western teams on one half of the brackets and 16 eastern teams on the other half. Each half of the bracket will also see eight teams seeded (six MLS clubs and two A- League teams).
All 12 MLS teams will begin play in the second round, which has been extended from previous seasons, when eight select clubs joined the competition in the third round.
Nine A-League qualifying teams will advance into the 2000 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, entering the tournament in the second round, as they have done the last four years. Unlike the last two years when point totals after the league's first six matches decided Open Cup participants, this year teams have been broken down into eight geographic groups which will advance one team each to the Open Cup. The wildcard winner in the A-League will be determined by one of three factors: the defending U.S. Open Cup Champion, defending A-League Champion or the best second place finisher.
Seven D3 Pro League teams will qualify for the second round of the Open Cup. To qualify, each D3 Pro Team has been separated into one of seven qualifying groups based on geographical proximity.
Four Premier Development League teams will qualify for the first round to face off against four USASA teams for the four amateur spots available in round two. To qualify for the first round 38 PDL teams have been broken down into three regional divisions, where each club will compete within their group in four individual Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches. The three winners of each group, plus the best overall second place team will advance into the first round of the tournament.
Four USASA teams will battle against four Premier Development League teams in the first round to advance to the second round and challenge for the Dewar Cup trophy. One team will qualify from each of the USASA's four regions (I, II, III & IV), where qualifying tournaments involving 61 teams are being played across the U.S. Winners in each of the four U.S. regions advance into the first round of the 2000 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Another focal point for the 154 teams participating in the 2000 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is $180,000 in prize money, which includes $100,000 to the winner and $50,000 to the second place finisher. In addition, $10,000 will be awarded to the team from each of the following categories of the U.S. Open Cup competition that advances the furthest in the competition:
- the Amateur Division category;
- the Professional Outdoor Division III category; and
- the Professional Outdoor Division II category.
The Raging Rhinos want to become the first team since the N.Y. Pancyprian-Freedoms of New York, N.Y. (1982, 1983) to win back-to-back U.S. Open Cup Championships. Last year the ninth seeded Rochester Raging Rhinos, of the A-League, captured the 1999 edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 2-0 victory over the number one seeded Colorado Rapids on September 14, in Columbus, Ohio. The victory ended the three-year dominance of Major League Soccer teams as the Rhinos became the first USL squad to win the championship since the Richmond Kickers in 1995.
Dating back to 1914, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States soccer and is among the oldest in the world. Open to affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States, the annual U.S. Open Cup is an 87-year-old-single-elimination tournament based on similar competitions played across the world concurrent with domestic league action.
The U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament, with drawn games being decided by two 15-minute sudden death ("Golden Goal") overtime halves. If neither team scores during the two overtime halves, the winner is decided on penalty kicks.
In 1999, the U.S. Open Cup was renamed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to honor the long-time soccer supporter and pioneer. Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Wizards and Columbus Crew of MLS and the owner of the Dallas Tornados of the old NASL, was one of the sport's first major ownership figures and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
June 4 - (First Round): Four USASA and four PDL teams face off against each other in an abbreviated first round to be completed by June 4.
June 14 - (Second Round): An expanded second round with 32 teams competing in 16 matches across the country. The matches are paired geographically and cross-league as much as possible. The matches will be determined by a blind draw on June 5, after the 32 teams have been divided into western and eastern brackets by the U.S. Open committee. Breakdown of teams is as follows: MLS (12 teams), A-League (9), D3 Pro League (7) and the first round winners (4).
July 25 - (Third Round): The 16 winners from the Second Round will continue through their brackets and will be paired against each other in eight games.
August 9 - (Quarterfinals): The eight survivors from the third round will continue through their brackets and will be slotted against each other in four matches.
August 23 - (Semifinals): The winners of the semifinals advance to the final.
TBD - (Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final): The match date for the 2000 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final has yet to be finalized, but is tentatively set for Oct. 22 at the home of the one of the two finalists.
Major League Soccer (12): 12 teams qualified
A-League (9): 21 teams eligible
D3 Pro League (7): 22 teams eligible
Premier Development League (4): 38 teams eligible
United States Amateur Soccer Association (4): 61 teams eligible