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    U.S. Soccer and MLS at odds over U.S. Open Cup
    • December 20, 2023

    The latest soap opera in U.S. Soccer was created Friday when Major League Soccer announced it would remove their first teams from the U.S. Open Cup.

    The plan, which was voted on by the owners, would be to send the MLS Next Pro teams – essentially the reserve teams – into the tournament. The U.S. Open Cup is governed by U.S. Soccer.

    Wednesday, the U.S. Soccer Federation denied MLS’ plan.

    “Major League Soccer has requested to allow MLS Next PRO teams to represent MLS in the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. After thoughtful consideration, we have informed MLS that the U.S. Soccer staff recommendation, which was adopted by the Pro League Taskforce, is that the request be denied,” the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement.

    “As we move forward, we will continue our review of the Open Cup to ensure it aligns with the U.S. Soccer strategic pillars. We remain committed to addressing the needs and concerns of all of our members, including MLS, and other stakeholders to enhance and improve the U.S. Open Cup.”

    Major League Soccer responded moments later:

    “Major League Soccer recently proposed to U.S. Soccer a plan for MLS NEXT Pro teams to represent the League in the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. MLS took that step because it believes that there are several essential goals and concerns that must be addressed in connection with the tournament, including developing young professional players and providing them with greater opportunity to play before fans in meaningful competition in a tournament setting, prioritizing player health and safety, reducing schedule congestion for MLS clubs, and enhanced investment from U.S. Soccer.

    “U.S. Soccer has subsequently notified MLS that the Federation is not prepared to grant the necessary waiver for MLS NEXT Pro clubs owned by MLS owners to participate in the Open Cup.

    “MLS is committed to finding a viable solution for the 2024 tournament and is working to find a pathway that addresses its goals and concerns. Moving forward, MLS will remain focused on increasing opportunities for up-and-coming players, a key component of the League’s player development strategy that ultimately benefits the U.S. national team program.”

    The USSF professional league standards says that “U.S.-based teams must participate in all representative U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF competitions for which they are eligible.”

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    MLS teams enter the U.S. Open Cup at different stages of the tournament. The question has always been: How seriously do teams take the tournament?

    In June, Bob Foose, the MLS Players Association executive director, said in an interview with The Athletic that the players aren’t eager to participate in the tournament.

    ‘I know the league has worked a lot with the federation and tried to be respectful of what they’re trying to do, but I can tell you that the U.S. Open Cup is certainly not something that our players look forward to,” Foose said.

    ​ Orange County Register