Lionel Messi will not be able to win all the trophies that the United States has to offer him this year. This is because Major League Soccer exerted its influence to avoid putting all of its teams in the oldest soccer tournament in the country.
This afternoon it was announced that only eight MLS teams will compete in the US Open Cup, the country’s oldest and most prestigious cup competition played since 1914.
After months of dithering by MLS officials to try to avoid sending every team to the tournament (as they have done since the league began in 1996), they finally got their wish.
The new format will include defending champion Houston Dynamo, as well as the top seven teams in the Supporter’s Shield race that did not make it to the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
The next seven are Atlanta United, FC Dallas, Los Angeles FC, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City.
US Soccer bowed to pressure from MLS and only eight top-flight teams will play in the US Open Cup.
The defending champion, the Houston Dynamo, is one of eight MLS teams in the tournament.
Last year’s finalist, Inter Miami, will not compete in this year’s tournament.
In addition to these, eleven teams from MLS Next Pro, the reserve league controlled by MLS, will also compete.
Independent teams Carolina Core and Chattanooga FC will enter, as will reserve teams Austin FC, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Charlotte FC, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls and the Portland Woods .
“First of all, I want to extend my sincere thanks to all of our members for their invaluable contributions over the past few months – sharing with us the reasons why the US Open Cup is so great and what we can do to make it better.” better,” said US Soccer CEO JT Batson.
‘After extensive discussions, we have put together a specific competitive format for the 2024 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, promising exciting matchups from the First Round and throughout the tournament.
“US Soccer values the tradition and importance of the US Open Cup and we will continue to talk with all of our members to explore ways to improve future editions of the tournament and how we all work together to grow soccer in every community across the country. .’
Yes, US Soccer values the tradition of the cup, but not enough to go all out to get MLS teams to play in the tournament.
There are a number of options the governing body could have chosen, including a nuclear option of revoking the league’s top-tier status, but they came to this compromise.
That’s despite rules requiring all MLS teams to participate. When it became clear that the USSF was willing to try to reach an agreement, Open Cup committee chairman Arthur Mattson resigned from his position.
US Soccer CEO JT Batson (left) says his organization will “explore avenues to improve future editions of the tournament.”
“I would never allow MLS to choose the rules and policies it follows while expecting other leagues to respect the rules,” Mattson he told Henry Bushnell of Yahoo Sports.
This format is believed to be temporary and it is possible that all MLS teams will return next season.
But between now and then, several things will likely need to happen. For one thing, MLS commissioner Don Garber has long complained about the quality of teams in the competition and the fact that clubs lose money in the tournament.
Garber has also been vocal about how the tournament clogs up schedules. It’s an interesting point, considering that if an MLS team reached the Open Cup final, they would only play six additional games between May and September. And after all, not every MLS team wins its first game in the tournament.
That’s before you consider that MLS is completely pausing its season to host the Leagues Cup in the format it debuted in last year.
It seemed like US Soccer was ready to reject MLS when the league first announced in December that it would not participate. He issued a statement saying “the request (to send reserve teams to the cup) is denied.”
US Soccer Pro League standards suggested they could counterattack strongly. One of their requirements for a Division I men’s league is that “US-based teams must participate in all US soccer and CONCACAF representative competitions for which they are eligible.”
The rules gave US Soccer the option to revoke MLS Division I status as a result of its desire to jump ship. But that option was something US Soccer reportedly did not consider.
Leaders of lower leagues, such as the USL Championship, are “disappointed” by this decision
This decision has received negative reactions across the board from fans (both in the MLS and lower leagues), players and leaders of the sport.
Paul McDonough, president of the United Soccer League (which operates three divisions), he told Yahoo Sports“We are really disappointed in the federation for not showing stronger leadership.”
The Richmond Kickers, a USL club and winners of the 1995 US Open Cup, wrote in a statement“We are disappointed that US Soccer has failed to bring other leagues into compliance with the Pro League’s basic standards to participate in the US Open Cup.”
Even MLS players have spoken out against this decision. John Tolkin, right back for the New York Red Bulls he told herculez gomez, ‘If you want to build the game in this country, how are you going to get rid of the national tournament? That’s like getting rid of England’s FA Cup.
Countless groups of supporters across the country have also expressed their frustration.
MLS could return to the cup next year with a new revenue-sharing model, an increase in travel stipends and/or a bigger marketing push to attract more lucrative sponsors to the tournament.
But all of those changes would be implemented by 2025. For now, this tournament will feel less due to the MLS decision.