MEMPHIS, Tennessee – The national championship of U.S. Soccer comes to Memphis Wednesday as Memphis 901 FC enters the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Memphis will face New York Red Bulls U-23 at AutoZone Park starting at 7:00 p.m.
The Lamar U.S. Open Cup is the most prestigious tournament in this country with teams across the United States competing for silverware and a sizeable cash prize.
With this historic moment on the horizon, here are a few things to know about the Open Cup ahead of Wednesday’s match.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
First Played: 1914
Type: Knockout/Single Elimination
Named After: AFL, Kansas City Chiefs founder and soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt
Cash Prize: $300,000
Trophy: Dewar Challenge Trophy
Most Titles: Bethlehem Steel F.C. & Maccabi Los Angeles (5 titles each)
Defending Champions: Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Automatic Bid To: 2020 CONCACAF Champions League
TV Provider: ESPN+ (all rounds)
Next Round: May 29, 2019
Non-Soccer Equivalent: March Madness
The U.S. Open Cup is open to pro and amateur clubs across the country. That means there is a huge field to compete in. Memphis plays in the USL Championship, the second-highest tier in American pro soccer and had a first-round bye. Should Memphis continue to advance, the club could potential play or host a Major League Soccer (MLS) club. The MLS enters the annual competition in the fourth round of the tournament.
There is a considerable amount of money at stake in this year’s tournament. This year's winning team will receive $300,000 while the runner-up will earn $100,000. The team that advances the furthest from each lower division will take home a $25,000 cash prize.
Champions League Berth
The winner of the entire tournament not only gets a sizeable paycheck, it also earns a berth to the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League. The tournament is a tournament of the league champions and cup winners from North, Central America and the Caribbean. The CONCACAF Champions League has only ever been won on two occasions by American teams (both from MLS) – DC United in 1998 and LA Galaxy in 2000. Memphis’ June 22 opponent, C.F. Pachuca from Liga MX, has won the Champions League five times.
Because the Open Cup is single elimination, matches tied at the end of regulation (90 minutes) head to extra time. Thirty minutes of extra time are played in two fifteen-minute halves. If there is still no winner after extra time, the match is determined by a penalty shootout.
Does Not Affect Regular Season
While Memphis will look to advance as far as possible in the tournament, the result will not impact the club’s regular season. A win or loss is not reflected in Memphis’ overall record as the tournament is considered a separate competition.
Recent USL Championship Success
Teams from the USL Championship have been extremely competitive in recent years. Three USL Championship squads made the Round of 16 last year with Louisville City FC making it all the way to the quarterfinals. The Charleston Battery made it to the final in 2008. The last non-MLS side to win the Cup was the Rochester Rhinos in 1999.
About the Opponent
New York Red Bulls U-23 is part of the four leagues under the USL’s umbrella. The club plays in third tier League Two. New York has been a member of the league, formerly USL PDL, since 2015 finishing atop the Mid Atlantic division twice. The club is one of three Red Bulls-owned clubs playing in American soccer leagues along with New York Red Bulls (MLS) and New York Red Bulls II (USL Championship).
Najem Knows New York
Memphis standout midfielder Adam Najem once played for Red Bulls U-23. Najem spent the 2015 season with the club scoring two goals in two appearances. New York, like other League Two squads, serves as a path to pro soccer and a developmental tool for college soccer players. Najem starred at the University of Akron where he scored 33 goals for the Zips.
Tickets for Wednesday’s friendly are now available. All Midfield, Sideline, Corner, Corner II and Supporters tickets are only $10. Club End and Club Premium tickets are just $15.
Call (901) 721-6000 or go to www.memphis901fc.com/tickets for more information on all ticket options.