Sporting KC prepares for shot at Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Your hometown team is playing for one of the highest honors in Major League Soccer: The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. This will be played Wednesday at Children's Mercy Park at 8 p.m.

It is North America’s oldest soccer tournament and Sporting Kansas City is within striking distance of its fourth Open Cup title overall and its third in five years, having lifted the trophy in 2004, 2012 and 2015.

Wednesday's game has been sold out for weeks, and turnout from Sporting's fan base and the KC Cauldron is expected to be high.

Part of the game's promotion included a series of items and paintings around the city, featuring the hashtag #gottahavethatcup. Several city buildings, like Union Station, are lit blue to support the team in its quest for the Cup.

Sporting beat their Cup opponent, the New York Red Bulls, back in May with a final score of 2-0, but players are not focusing on the past.

"At certain times we will lean on that experience. At the same time, it doesn't mean a whole lot. It doesn't give you a one goal lead. This is a separate game within itself. We need to make sure we approach it that way," said Matt Besler, Sporting KC captain. 

Speaking of experience: Defender Besler, left back Seth Sinovic and right back Graham Zusi all played on the team that won the Cup in 2015.

"It's been a long season so far, but these are the moments you play for, the opportunity to win another trophy. It doesn't get better than that," said Graham Zusi, midfielder for Sporting KC.

The Cup was named after Lamar Hunt back in 1999. Hunt founded the MLS and the original team in Kansas City. Hunt, who died a local legend in 2006, is also known widely for founding the Kansas City Chiefs and coining the term "Super Bowl" for the championship game.

Hunt also helped open up the Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun theme parks in Kansas City.

A statue of Hunt, a 1972 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, stands outside Arrowhead Stadium.

Previously, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was known as the National Challenge Cup.