The Portland Timbers will meet the Seattle Sounders at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. on June 13 to begin their 2017 campaign in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (7:30 pm PT).
Founded in 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is the longest running soccer tournament in American history. The event, which was renamed in honor of MLS founder and American soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt in 1999, features competition between both professional and amateur clubs from all across the country and all levels of the U.S. soccer pyramid. Ninety-one teams competed in 2016, resulting in FC Dallas’ hoisting their second-ever U.S. Open Cup in a 4-2 win over the New England Revolution.
Despite the assortment of competitors, MLS teams have dominated the tournament landscape since the league’s inception, winning 20 of the last 21 titles.
While the title of U.S. Open Cup Champion comes with a $250,000 cash prize, the winning club also snags a spot for the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Timbers first participated in the tournament in 2004—as a member of the USL at the time—and have reached as far as the semifinals, where they were defeated by Real Salt Lake in 2013.
The tournament is structured so that MLS teams join the competition in the fourth round, while lower division teams—both pro and amateur—begin play in earlier rounds. The Timbers' match against Seattle marks the third straight year in which Portland will face an MLS opponent to begin competition and they are one of only three matches in the fourth round not featuring a lower-division side.
However, the Timbers are one of two teams (Chicago Fire) to have beaten at least one MLS team in each of the last four U.S. Open Cups.
Portland has faced the Sounders six times across the teams’ respective USL and MLS eras in the knock-out cup competition. The last time Pacific Northwest rivals met for Open Cup play was a fourth-round match during the 2015 edition in which Portland defeated Seattle 3-1 at the Starfire Sports Stadium.