US Open Cup qualifying history: Major League Soccer (Division 1)

Posted by | January 20, 2017
Jeremy Hall of the New York Red Bulls battles for the ball against Marko Perovic of the New England Revolution in a 2010 US Open Cup qualifying match at Red Bull Arena. Photo: New York Red Bulls

Jeremy Hall of the New York Red Bulls battles for the ball against Marko Perovic of the New England Revolution in a 2010 US Open Cup qualifying match at Red Bull Arena. Photo: New York Red Bulls

Major League Soccer has been the United States Soccer Federation’s (USSF) Division I league since its inception in 1996 and has taken part in the US Open Cup since that inaugural season. However, the way the teams have been chosen over the years had changed considerably over the years.

After doing away with the qualifying process from 2000-06, a pre-tournament competition was brought back from 2007-11. The games were very poorly attended and in 2012, the federation announced that going forward, every US-based professional team would take part in the US Open Cup.

Here is a look back at past US Open Cup qualifying results for MLS:


The Dallas Burn, Kansas City Wiz, Los Angeles Galaxy and Tampa Bay Mutiny were chosen by Major League Soccer as the participants in the 1996 US Open Cup. However, Los Angeles Galaxy would drop out of the tournament citing fixture congestion and were replaced by eventual champion DC United.


The Colorado Rapids, Dallas Burn, defending champion DC United, Kansas City Wizards, Metrostars, New England Revolution, San Jose Clash and Tampa Bay Mutiny entered the 1997 US Open Cup. The Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy did not enter


The defending champion Dallas Burn joined the Columbus Crew, DC United, San Jose Clash and expansion team Chicago Fire were automatically entered into the 1998 US Open Cup by a blind draw. This left the Colorado Rapids, Kansas City Wizards, Metrostars, Los Angeles Galaxy Tampa Bay Mutiny and the second expansion team Miami Fusion to play qualifying games, which were just regular season games doubling as qualifiers. However, the New England Revolution declined entry and DC United and the Galaxy withdrew their entry due to their participation in the 1998 Copa Merconorte. This left the Rapids (the team that finished the lowest of the remaining teams) and the Fusion to play for the final Open Cup entry. On May 2, Miami defeated Colorado 3-2 to clinch a spot in the tournament.


There were four automatic qualifiers for the 1999 US Open Cup from MLS: Chicago Fire (1998 US Open Cup champion), Columbus Crew (1998 US Open Cup runner-up), Dallas Burn (1997 US Open Cup champion) and DC United (1996 US Open Cup champion). Three more entries were determined by league games doubling as qualifiers with the Colorado Rapids winning a shootout with the Kansas City Wizards after a 1-1 draw (April 17), the Metrostars beating the Fusion 3-2 (May 15) and the Mutiny needing to win a shootout against the Galaxy after a scoreless draw (May 15). The eighth and final spot would be awarded to one of the three losing teams (Kansas City, Miami, Los Angeles). The final spot would go to the team with the highest point total in league play through June 1, or by the highest point-per-game average if the teams have not played an even number of games. The Galaxy would have a 5-6 record (3-4 in shootouts) on June 1 and would earn the final Open Cup berth.


No MLS qualifying


The top three teams from each conference from the previous season automatically qualified for the 2007 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (DC United, FC Dallas, New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo and Chivas USA). The remaining six teams from last season were entered into a qualifying tournament with games played separately from the league schedule.

Real Salt Lake won a 2-1 extra time decision against the Kansas City Wizards (April 18) and Nate Jaqua’s lone goal gave the Los Angeles Galaxy a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew (April 24) to set up a pair of “Win and You’re In” matches. The Galaxy and Red Bulls played strong lineups and it looked like Juan Pablo Angel’s goal for New York was going to punch their ticket, but Landon Donovan converted a penalty kick in second half stoppage time and Kyle Martino and Santino Quaranta scored in extra time to send the Galaxy to the tournament. In the other match, Jacob Peterson’s second goal of the game was the game-winner in second half stoppage time as the Rapids defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1.

First Round
Apr 18 Real Salt Lake 2:1 (AET) Kansas City Wizards
RSL – Jeff Cunningham 12’, Andy Williams 109’
KC – Sasha Victorine 88’

Apr 24 Columbus Crew 0:1 Los Angeles Galaxy
LAG – Nate Jaqua 17’

Final Round
May 8 Los Angeles Galaxy 3:1 (AET) New York Red Bulls
LAG – Landon Donovan 92’ (PK), Kyle Martino 103’, Santino Quaranta 120’
NYRB – Juan Pablo Angel
Los Angeles qualify for 2007 U.S. Open Cup

May 23 Colorado Rapids 2:1 Real Salt Lake
COL – Jacob Peterson 48’, Jacob Peterson 90’+
RSL – Chris Klein 64’
Colorado qualifies for 2007 U.S. Open Cup


Just like last year, the teams at the bottom of the overall league standings from the previous year held qualifying games for the 2008 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. 2008 marked the return of the San Jose Earthquakes, adding an additional team to the tournament. Also, the automatic qualifiers were the top six teams based on the overall standings (rather than determined by conference standings).

Automatic qualifiers: DC United, Chivas USA, Houston Dynamo, New England Revolution, FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls

2008 qualifying tournament

First Round
Apr 30 Real Salt Lake 4:0 San Jose Earthquakes
RSL – Kyle Beckerman, Kyle Beckerman, Yura Movsisyan, Andy Williams 90’

Second Round
May 27 Colorado Rapids 1:0 Los Angeles Galaxy
COL – Conor Casey 80’

May 27 Columbus Crew 2:0 Real Salt Lake
CLB – Steven Lenhart 26’, Robbie Rogers 53’

Final Round
Jun 4 Kansas City Wizards 2:2 (AET) Colorado Rapids
KC – Ryan Pore 20’, Ivan Trujillo 86’
COL – Herculez Gomez 36’, Jacob Peterson 57’
Kansas City qualifies for 2008 U.S. Open Cup on penalties, 5-3

Jun 10 Chicago Fire 3:2 (AET) Columbus Crew
CHI – Stephen King 10’, Andy Herron 65’, Andy Herron 116’ (PK)
COL – Emmanuel Ekpo 63’, Jason Garey 67’
Chicago qualify for 2008 U.S. Open Cup


The Seattle Sounders made the move from the United Soccer Leagues to MLS, adding to the number of teams that had to qualify to get into the 2009 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The top six teams from last season (overall standings) automatically qualified.

Automatic qualifiers: Columbus Crew, Houston Dynamo, Chicago Fire, New England Revolution, Chivas USA, and Kansas City Wizards.

First Round
Apr 7 Colorado Rapids 0:0 (AET) Los Angeles Galaxy
Colorado advance on penalties, 4-2

Apr 22 FC Dallas 0:2 D.C. United
DCU – Fred 21’, Brandon Barklage 66’

Apr 28 Real Salt Lake 1:4 Seattle Sounders
RSL – Will Johnson 32’
SEA – Sebastien Le Toux 25’ (PK), Sanna Nyassi 27’, Stephen King 52’, Sebastien Le Toux 54’ (PK)

Apr 29 New York Red Bulls 2:1 San Jose Earthquakes
NYRB – Mike Petke 2’, John Wolyniec 80’
SJ – Pablo Campos 71’

Final Round
May 20 New York Red Bulls 3:5 D.C. United
NYRB – Dane Richards 44’, Jorge Alberto Rojas 48’, Jorge Alberto Rojas 61’ (PK)
DCU – Chris Pontius 8’, Thabiso Khumalo 18’, Brandon Berklage 21’, Fred 28’, Chris Pontius 52’
DC United qualify for 2009 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

May 26 Colorado Rapids 0:1 Seattle Soudners
SEA – Kevin Forrest 62’
Seattle qualifies for 2009 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup


The top six clubs from last season (overall standings) were automatically entered into the 2010 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, leaving nine teams (including expansion team Philadelphia Union) to battle for the final two spots.

Automatic qualifiers: Columbus Crew, Los Angeles Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Seattle Sounders FC, Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA.

Qualifying tournament

First Round
Apr 27 Philadelphia Union 1:2 New York Red Bulls
PHI – Sebastien Le Toux 68’
NYRB – Conor Chinn 16’, Conor Chinn 41’

Second Round
Apr 14 Real Salt Lake 3:3 (AET) San Jose Earthquakes
Real Salt Lake advance on penalties, 5-3
RSL – Robbie Findley 7’, Nelson Gonzalez 60’, Nat Borchers 117’
SJ – Chris Leitch 68’, Arturo Alvarez 88’, Bobby Burling 108’

Apr 14 Colorado Rapids 2:1 Kansas City Wizards
COL – Wells Thompson 24’, Wells Thompson 80’
KCW – Teal Bunbury 4’

Apr 28 FC Dallas 2:4 D.C. United
FCD – Bruno Guarda 52’, Dax McCarthy 57’ (PK)
DCU – Adam Cristman 4’, Christian Castillo 39’, Andy Najar 51’

May 12 New England Revolution 0:3 New York Red Bulls
NYRB – John Wolyniec 36’, Sinisa Ubiparipovic 62’, John Wolyniec 64’

Final Round
May 26 Colorado Rapids 0:3 New York Red Bulls
NYRB – John Wolyniec 11’, John Wolyniec 43’, Conor Chinn 56’
New York qualifies for 2010 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

Jun 2 Real Salt Lake 1:2 (AET) D.C. United
RSL – Will Johnson 81’ (PK)
DCU – Luciano Emilio 75’ (PK), Andy Najar 107’
DC United qualify for 2010 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup


Just like they have the last three years, the top six clubs from last season based on the overall league standings were automatically entered into the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. This left 10 teams (including expansion team Portland Timbers FC) to battle for the final two spots.

Automatic qualifiers: Los Angeles Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls, FC Dallas, Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders FC.

2011 qualifying tournament

First Round
Mar 29 Chivas USA 0:2 Portland Timbers
POR – Jack Jewsbury 84’, eric Brunner 86’

Apr 6 Philadelphia Union 2:2 (AET) D.C. United
D.C. United advance on penalties, 4-2
PHI – Carlos Ruiz 18’, Brian Carroll 118’
DCU – Josh Wolff 45’,Daniel Wollard 111’

Second Round
Mar 30 Colorado Rapids 1:2 Chicago Fire
COL – Andre Akpan 46’
CHI – Gaston Puerari 45’, Jalil Anibaba 61’

Apr 6 Sporting Kansas City 1:0 (AET) Houston Dynamo
SKC – C.J. Sapong 92’

Apr 26 New England Revolution 3:2 D.C. United
NER – Kheli Dube 37’ Kheli Dube 47’, Alan koger 67’
DCu – Branko Boskovic 73’, Branko Boskovic 83’

May 3 San Jose Earthquakes 1:0 (AET) Portland Timbers
SJE – Ike Opara 120’

Final Round
May 24 Chicago Fire 2:2 (AET) San Jose Earthquakes
CHI – Orr Barouch 61’, Yamith Cuesta 76’
SJE – Ellis McLoughlin 14’, Justin Morrow 43’
Chicago qualify for 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on PKs, 5-4

May 25 New England Revolution 0:5 Sporting Kansas City
SKC – Chance Myers 9’ Chance Myers 19’, C.J. Sapong 24’, Aurelien Collin 81’, C.J. Sapong 88’
Kansas City qualify for 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

2012 – present: US Open Cup qualifying for MLS discontinued