Potential hosts finalized for U.S. Open Cup

Charleston, S.C., Chicago, and Kansas City, Mo., have been named potential sites for the 2004 U.S. Open Cup final, which will be played Wednesday, Sept. 22. The final placement of the championship game will depend on the outcome of the tournament semifinal matches being played August 24 and 25.

If the lone remaining A-League contender for the title, the Charleston Battery, defeats the three-time champion Chicago Fire on August 25, the final match will be played at classy Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The Battery would face either the San Jose Earthquakes or the Kansas City Wizards. Blackbaud Stadium has never hosted the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, but did host the A-League championship game last year when the hosts defeated Minnesota to earn their first championship.

Should Chicago advance to the U.S. Open Cup final game, the host venue will depend on the outcome of the San Jose-Kansas City match, which takes place on August 24. Should the reigning MLS champion San Jose Earthquakes defeat the Wizards, the final match will be played at Soldier Field in Chicago. Soldier Field has hosted the final two times previously, in 1998 and 2000, with the Fire emerging as champions both times. Chicago won its 2003 championship by defeating the MetroStars at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

If Chicago advances and the Wizards beat the Earthquakes, the final will take place at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., for the first time.

Charleston is the first A-League team to make it to the Open Cup semifinals since 1999. The Battery fell to the Colorado Rapids, 3-1, in the semifinals that year, and the Rochester Raging Rhinos won the Cup, marking the first time since MLS teams joined the competition that an A-League squad won the title.

At stake in the tournament is $180,000 in prize money broken down as follows: $100,000 to the champion, $50,000 to the runner up and $10,000 to the team which advances deepest in the tournament from each of the Division II, Division III and amateur levels.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, 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. It is the oldest annual team tournament in U.S. sports history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt, owner of the Wizards, who are aiming for their first Open Cup title in this year's competition.

2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule
# -- Date -- Teams -- Venue; City -- Time
37 -- Aug. 24 -- San Jose Earthquakes at Kansas City Wizards -- Blue Valley Complex; Overland Park., Kan. 7:30 p.m. CT
38 -- Aug. 25 -- Charleston Battery at Chicago Fire -- Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium; Naperville, Ill. -- 7:30 p.m. CT

# -- Date -- Teams -- Venue; City -- Time
39 -- Sept. 22 -- San Jose Earthquakes or Kansas City Wizards at Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C. -- 7:30 p.m. ET

39 -- Sept. 22 -- Chicago Fire at Kansas City Wizards -- Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 p.m. CT
39 -- Sept. 22 -- San Jose Earthquakes at Chicago Fire Soldier Field; Chicago, Ill. -- 7:30 p.m. CT