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What you need to know about the US Open Cup

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Wondering what you need to know about the US Open Cup ahead of the first round starting later today? We have the details.

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Everyone's favorite tournament starts today, and the first round comes straight through Utah when Harpo's FC takes on BYU's USL PDL side. That one will be streamed, and we'll have more coverage of it later, but before that, it's probably important to get to know the US Open Cup.

What is it?

It's a Cup with a capital "C." In all seriousness, it's a tournament that's more than 100 years old, and each year, teams from across the country compete. It's open to clubs from every level, as evidenced by the presence of full amateur sides like Harpo's FC and KC Athletics.

The current format is a pretty straightforward knockout tournament, with a coin flip to determine who hosts a match.

Who's won it most?

It's a two-way tie between two teams that most definitely don't exist anymore: Bethlehem Steel (1907–1930) and Maccabi Los Angeles (1971–1982). Both of those teams won it five times, all when it was known as the National Challenge Cup.

How about teams that still exist?

Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders have each won it four times, and given they're MLS teams, we do know they both exist. But they're tied at four with another team that still exists: Greek American Atlas Astoria, also known as New York Greek American. They were formed in 1941 and still exist. That's pretty great.

How do teams enter?

That's been a point of controversy in the past — for a time, only eight teams from each level of the soccer pyramid used to enter, which has a funny effect of reducing the interest in the competition across the nation. There's been a lot of controversy in the past, but now, every professional team is in the mix — so all teams from the top three tiers; that is, MLS, NASL, and USL. A further 19 teams from USL PDL, 12 from NPSL, and nine from USASA are in the first round as well — and that includes Utah's own BYU Cougars.

There's a preliminary round, too, in which BYU's opponent, Harpo's FC, participated alongside three other teams — US Open Cup specialists (and once-Eric-Wynalda-coached) Cal FC, KC Athletics, and San Francisco City FC. Those four made it through the qualifying rounds.

When does RSL play?

June 16 or 17 against some to-be-determined opponents in the fourth round.

Real Monarchs, however, play earlier — May 20, so a week from today — against either Long Island Rough Riders or twice-USOC-winners Brooklyn Italians. Monarchs will host if Brooklyn Italians go through, which would be fun — RSL president Bill Manning played for the Italians in the 1991 edition of the Cup, and he got a red card in the final, which the team won.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that RSL would play on May 27. That's been corrected. Thanks to irondeepbicycle for the heads-up.

What about BYU?

Tonight — and if they go through, they'd play in a week against Colorado Springs Switchbacks on the road.

Anything else I need to know?

Well, Real Salt Lake has participated in the Cup with varying success, making the 2013 final and losing rather annoyingly to then-league-worst D.C. United.

Want to watch the highlights? Be my guest. It's not the most fun thing you'll see all week.