Beginning in 1914 as the National Challenge Cup, the U.S. Open Cup is the oldest currently running team tournament in U.S. sports history and the second-oldest continually operating cup competition in the world.
Ethnic and industry-sponsored clubs from the eastern United States dominated the tournament’s early years, with Bethlehem Steel of Pennsylvania outshining everyone with a still-standing record of five titles in the competition’s first 14 editions. In 1933, St. Louis club Stix, Baer and Fuller became the first side outside of the east coast to win the tournament, which led to a period where clubs from the Midwest – specifically St. Louis and Chicago – began to challenge and eventually dominate the competition.
In 1958, Los Angeles Kickers were the first west coast club to lift the Dewar Trophy and would eventually be followed by Maccabi Los Angeles, who tied Bethlehem Steel with their record fifth title in 1981.
The modern era of the tournament began in 1995 and MLS clubs started taking part in their inaugural season of 1996. Since they began playing, clubs from the new American top-flight have won the tournament every year except for 1999, when the second division Rochester Rhinos upended four MLS sides en route to a memorable championship win against Colorado Rapids in Columbus, Ohio.
That same year, the tournament was renamed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, in recognition of the American soccer pioneer’s long efforts to build the sport in the United States.
The Dewar Cup
Originally, the winner of the tournament was awarded the Dewar Cup, an impressive piece of hardware with a wooden base holding up tall medal columns with a sphere and soccer figure on top. The trophy was donated to U.S. Soccer precursor, the American Amateur Football Association by Scottish whisky mogul Sir Thomas Dewar in 1912 and was what every champion lifted through the 1979 final.
Due to it fragile state, the cup was put into semi-retirement at U.S. Soccer Headquarters in Chicago, but was awarded once again in 1997 to the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) and 1998 to the Chicago Fire. While it wasn’t the trophy they initially lifted after defeating the LA Galaxy in 2006, the Dewar Cup was part of the Chicago Fire’s post-game celebration at Toyota Park that year.
Outside of those years, the winner was awarded a glass cup through 2006, while the current trophy – a more modern, chrome piece -- was first awarded in 2007 when this year’s finalists New England Revolution defeated FC Dallas 3-2.
What’s at Stake
Along with adding a new piece of hardware to the trophy cabinet, the winner of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is granted a berth in the following year’s CONCACAF Champions League. Along with that, the champion is awarded $250,000, while the runner-up receives $60,000.
A Rematch of the 2007 Final
The 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final serves as a rematch of the tournament’s memorable championship game in 2007, also played at FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium.
In that match, Pat Noonan put the visitors ahead from close range in the 20th minute, before FC Dallas equalized via a beautiful, curling strike from Arturo Alvarez 10 minutes later. Just as FCD looked to go into the locker room level, Taylor Twellman restored New England’s lead in the 41st minute and Wells Thompson’s shot from outside the box extended the lead in the 57th.Down two goals, FC Dallas pushed to pull things level and just seconds after entering the match, Abe Thompson cut the deficit in the 64th minute. Dallas thought they had equalized in the 80th minute when Dominic Oduro slotted an effort inside the left post, but the Ghanaian attacker was ruled offside and the chance proved to be the last quality opportunity of the game.
After falling in two consecutive MLS Cup finals the previous two years in Dallas, New England lifted its first domestic trophy and only U.S. Open Cup title that night.
FC Dallas Trophy Drought
In their 20 years of existence, FC Dallas has won only one domestic championship, lifting the 1997 U.S. Open Cup when they were known as the Dallas Burn. A team featuring the likes of Jason Kreis, Dante Washington and former Swiss international Alain Sutter played to a 0-0 draw with D.C. United before defeating the reigning champions 5-3 on penalty kicks.
Though they’ve come close to lifting more hardware since – FC Dallas fell in the 2007 U.S. Open Cup Final and 2010 MLS Cup Final -- 19 years on from that triumph, the club will look to end the longest trophy drought in Major League Soccer on Tuesday night.