US Soccer denies MLS request to pull 1st teams out of US Open Cup

US Open Cup
Sep 27, 2023; Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA; A detail view of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final trophy after the game between Inter Miami CF and the Houston Dynamo at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The United States Soccer Federation announced on Wednesday that they have denied Major League Soccer’s request to pull its first teams out of the Lamar Hunt US 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 statement read. “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 US Open Cup.”

MLS clubs were hoping to use their second or reserve teams, which compete in the MLS Next PRO circuit, rather than their top players, who already compete in league play and the Leagues Cup. Select teams also compete in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

US Open Cup
Sep 27, 2023; Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera (16) celebrates after winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final against Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

“This decision will provide emerging professional players with additional opportunities for meaningful competition,” MLS’s statement read on Friday when announcing its plan. “The move also benefits the MLS regular season by reducing schedule congestion, freeing up to six midweek match dates.”

The US Open Cup, however, is the country’s longest-running soccer competition, dating back to 1914, which pits five leagues and amateur teams against each other in the United States’ version of England’s famed FA Cup. 

While New York boasts the most titles — 26 in total by 18 different clubs — but neither of its MLS franchises, the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC, have lifted the trophy. The Red Bulls were twice runners-up in 2003 and 2017. 

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