8 days 'til MLS: US Open Cup

8 Days 'til MLS: Will a new club join Open Cup fraternity?

As the MLS season approaches, MLSsoccer.com marks each passing day with a different statistic, observation or talking point, setting the stage for March 2.

8 – MLS clubs to have hoisted the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

Barely more than a week to go before the first ball is kicked in the 2013 campaign of Major League Soccer, and we already know some basic math about what it takes to be a champion.

Nineteen teams and holding in the league. Twelve teams who have set foot in the MLS Cup final. Ten clubs who have never won the thing.

But there’s more glory than that to play for. Starting in May, MLS teams will enter the fray in the third round of the 100th edition of the oldest continuously running competition in American soccer: the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

It’s been around so long, in fact, that the list of the most successful teams in the history of the tournament is like finding a dusty, dog-eared old history book from high school in the back of your closet:

Bethlehem Steel. Maccabi Los Angeles. The Fall River Marksman. The Philadelphia Ukrainians. Greek American Atlas Astoria.

There’s some luscious history with all those old clubs, of course, and there's even surviving footage from the tournament from 91 years ago. But recently, the US Open Cup has been all about MLS: With the exception of the upset special Rochester Rhinos in 1999, a team from the American top flight has won the competition every year since the league came into existence.

But much like MLS Cup, it’s been a small fraternity of clubs who have hoisted the trophy. Smaller, in fact. Only eight teams have lifted the hardware after surviving the thrilling all-comers knockout competition that mirrors its counterparts in Europe and South America.

The four-time winning Chicago Fire call themselves the Kings of the Cup. The Seattle Sounders matched the record for consecutive tournament wins with three. D.C. United, the LA Galaxy and current defending champions Sporting Kansas City each have a pair of Open Cups in their trophy cases. Dallas, Columbus and New England have one apiece.

But will anyone join the Elite Eight of MLS clubs to have won it? We’ll find out in August. But a word to the wise for any would-be USOC champions: Don’t sleep on those Rochester Rhinos.

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