Soccer offers a slew of “cup” competitions that are of intense interest to fans of the sport but may bewilder those who don’t follow it closely, especially because they unfold amid the Major League Soccer season. Here’s a quick primer of the top cup competitions involving North American teams:
World Cup: Held every four years with 32 teams. It will be held next year in Russia (June 14-July 15). Germany is the reigning champion, having defeated Argentina 1-0 three years ago in Brazil. The CONCACAF region to which the U.S. belongs (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) is in the middle of a World Cup qualifying tournament that will conclude in October.
Confederations Cup: Held every four years with eight teams, the year before a World Cup, in the country due to host the World Cup the following year. Germany won it on July 2 in St. Petersburg, Russia, defeating Chile 1-0 in the final. Mexico finished fourth. The U.S. did not qualify.
Gold Cup: A 12-team tournament held every two years to determine the champion of the CONCACAF region. It began last week and concludes July 26 in Santa Clara, Calif. There are three groups of four teams, and after group play, eight teams advance to the quarterfinals. The winner of this tournament and the 2019 Gold Cup will play each other, with the winner of that game qualifying for the 2021 Confederations Cup. Thursday’s games at Sports Authority Field are secondround Group C matches. On Sunday in San Diego, Mexico defeated El Salvador 3-1 and Jamaica beat Curacao 2-0. The United States, which is in Group B, tied Panama on Saturday and played Martinique on Wednesday in Tampa. Thursday at Sports Authority Field El Salvador-Curacao, 6 p.m. Mexico-Jamaica, 8:30 p.m.
CONCACAF Champions League: A 16-team tournament involving clubs from CONCACAF nations that qualify a variety of ways. The Rapids will play in this tournament next season, qualifying by virtue of finishing second in the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings last season. They will be joined by four other MLS teams: Seattle, FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC. The winner of this tournament plays in the annual Club World Cup.
U.S. Open Cup: The oldest soccer competition in the U.S., this one is held annually, and like its namesakes in golf and tennis, it is open to all teams. This year’s tournament started with 99 teams at all levels of soccer with 19 MLS teams getting byes into the round of 32. The Rapids beat Oklahoma Energy FC 3-2 in that round on June 13 but lost to FC Dallas in the round of 16 on June 27.