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MLS to withdraw first teams from U.S. Open Cup

MLS to withdraw first teams from U.S. Open Cup

Major League Soccer’s first-team involvement in the U.S. Open Cup will becoming to an end.

League Commissioner Don Garber confirmed on Friday that the league will not send their first teams into the historic tournament, beginning in 2024. Instead, MLS will be represented in the tournament via their MLS NEXT Pro sides, who will take the places of the first teams.

Garber originally hinted at the idea during his State of the League address prior to Dec. 9’s MLS Cup Final. He provided supporting comments on Friday, further committing himself to the decision.

“I made those comments because I believe that if we’re going to have our professional teams competing in a tournament that is the oldest tournament of its type anywhere in the country, we all need to embrace it,” Garber said. “From our federation to our respective leagues, and give it the profile and give it the support that it needs.

“If we can’t do that, then we all should be together and decide that there needs to be a new plan.”

The U.S. Open Cup was founded in 1914 and provides the only meaningful competition between the country’s first division and the rest of the American soccer ecosystem. Due to the country’s lack of a promotion/relegation structure, the Open Cup provides great experiences for lower-league clubs in the USL and other American leagues.

U.S. Soccer has not officially approved of the decision, but did confirm MLS’ interest in removing their first teams from tournament involvement.

“Major League Soccer notified U.S. Soccer today of their Board of Governors vote regarding the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup,” USSF said in a statement. “Our staff is currently reviewing.

“U.S. Soccer and our Members remain committed to the success of the historic U.S. Open Cup and look forward to engaging with all our stakeholders on the future of the tournament.”

The Houston Dynamo lifted the U.S. Open Cup in 2023, defeating Inter Miami in the finals.

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