U.S. Soccer Honors Long-Time Soccer Pioneer by Renaming Annual Tournament "Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup"
"Lamar Hunt is one of the most important figures in soccer and his efforts to support the sport in this country have gone unmatched," said Hank Steinbrecher, who made the announcement at the Columbus Crew's monthly press luncheon at the Official All-Star Cafe. "We wanted to recognize Lamar for his long-standing impact on the game, and we felt honoring him with the namesake of our national tournament was the best way to do that."
As the owner of two of 12 MLS teams, Hunt stepped to the forefront of American soccer by becoming one of the original founding investors of Major League Soccer when the league was born in 1995. He also recently financed the $28.5 million, 22,500-seat Columbus Crew Stadium, which was completed earlier this year and stands as the first stadium in the nation built specifically for a major league soccer team. The stadium is widely regarded as the ideal or prototype American soccer venue.
In addition to his support of the four-year-old league, Hunt was also a major supporter of MLS' predecessor, the North American Soccer League. In 1967, he became an investor in the Dallas Tornado, one of the sports' leading franchises for 14 years. The Tornado's legacy is given credit for being the catalyst in soccer's development in the North Texas area, which is now a hotbed of the youth soccer movement. Hunt was inducted to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1982.
Hunt will be recognized during pregame of the 1999 U.S. Open Cup Final, which will be take place Tuesday, September 14 at Columbus Crew Stadium. The Open Cup final will feature a classic MLS vs. A-League battle as the #9-ranked Rochester Rhinos, the pride of the A-League, take on the #1-ranked Colorado Rapids, the MLS Western Conference leaders, in a game televised live for the first time in the tournament's history on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. ET. For ticket information, contact the Columbus Crew at 614/447-CREW.
The Rhinos upset their third MLS team this year when they completed a dramatic comeback with a 90th minute goal to beat the Crew 3-2 in the semifinals in Virginia Beach on Sept. 1. The Rapids scored three second half goals with the wind at their backs to down the A-League's Charleston Battery 3-0 to advance in their first Open Cup final.
Dating back to 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States soccer history and is among the oldest in the world. Open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States, the annual U.S. Open Cup is an 86-year-old single-elimination tournament.
The U.S. Open Cup, which is recognized as the U.S. Soccer Federation's National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. Within the U.S. Open Cup framework, teams compete in one of the following four categories: professional outdoor division I (Major League Soccer); professional outdoor Division II (A-League); professional outdoor Division III (USISL D3 Pro League); or Amateur Division (USISL Premier League & U.S. Amateur Soccer Association).
The U.S. Open Cup is very similar to domestic cup competitions popular throughout Europe, South America and the rest of the world. Cup competitions, which usually run concurrent with a country's league season, are open in the early stages to any club that can qualify, giving local amateur teams a chance to compete against the best teams a country has to offer.
While the tournament name will change for this year, the teams will still compete for the Dewar Cup trophy. The Dewar Cup, the oldest trophy in United States team sports, was refurbished in 1997 by the U.S. Amateur Soccer Association and, after being retired in 1979, was presented to the Dallas Burn after their victory in Indianapolis in 1997.
The trophy, a handsome silver sculpture standing almost three feet high, was originally donated to the American Amateur Football Association (AAFA) by Sir Thomas R. Dewar, the British sportsman and philanthropist, when the AAFA (now the USASA) visited London before the 1912 Olympic Games. Purchased by Dewar for the equivalent of $500, it was given in the hope of promoting soccer in the United States and in the name of Anglo-American friendship.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Logo
Created by Richard S. Levy of MLS Creative Services, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup logo incorporates an altered version of the red/white/blue U.S. Soccer crest along with Lamar Hunt's signature and "Est. 1914" to signify the founding of the Open Cup.