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2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Primer

On Wednesday, the Houston Dynamo enter the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a fourth round matchup against NTX Rayados at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:30 p.m., TICKETS). You may have several questions about this game and the tournament as a whole, so here are some answers.

What is the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup?

Only the longest-running soccer tournament in the United States. It began in 1914, which also makes it the nation’s oldest annual team sports tournament. The Open Cup is a single-elimination knockout tournament that includes teams from all levels of organized soccer – from amateurs to the pros.

Who plays in the U.S. Open Cup?

A total of 94 teams entered this year’s tournament – 52 amateur teams qualifying through league competition or local qualifying rounds, 22 USL teams, and 20 MLS teams. Only U.S.-based clubs are eligible. USL teams entered the competition in the second round, while MLS teams begin in the fourth round.

Who are the Dynamo playing?

NTX Rayados – a Dallas-area amateur team. Rayados play in the North Texas Premier Soccer Association and advanced to the Open Cup proper through three rounds of local qualifying. They defeated the Fort Worth Vaqueros 2-1 after extra time in the first round, then upset professional side OKC Energy FC 5-2 after extra time in the second round. Rayados took the lead in the first half but were trailing 2-1 until a 90th minute penalty kick sent the match into extra time, where the amateurs piled on three more goals.

They faced fellow amateurs FC Witchita of the NPSL in the third round, scoring in the 86th minute to advance to the fourth round and MLS competition with a 3-2 win. In league play, Rayados finished second with a 7-2-1 record during the spring season, which ran from February to the end of April.

What happens next?

If the Dynamo lose, they’re out. It is a cup competition, so if Wednesday’s match is tied after regulation, the teams will play two 15-minute extra time periods and then go to penalty kicks if it’s still even after that.

If the Dynamo win or advance on penalties, then they and the rest of the fourth round winners will be divided geographically into groups of four. A random draw on Thursday, June 7 will determine the pairings for the Round of 16 in each group, with two winners in each group facing each other for the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals winners are then paired geographically for the semifinals, and the winners advance to the final. The home team for each match is chosen at random.

The champion takes home a $300,000 prize and has its named engraved in the Dewar Challenge Trophy, as well as earning a spot in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. The runner-up receives $100,000.