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U.S. Soccer Federation refuses MLS attempt to pull top rosters from U.S. Open Cup

U.S. Soccer Federation refuses MLS attempt to pull top rosters from U.S. Open Cup

The U.S. Soccer Federation refused Major League Soccer’s attempt to pull its top rosters from next year’s U.S. Open Cup, the sport’s oldest competition in the nation.

While MLS announced in a statement at 6 p.m. EST Friday that its board of governors decided to send teams to the tournament from its third-tier MLS Next Pro rosters, the USSF characterized the league’s action only as a request that had been turned down.

“As we move forward, we will continue our review of the Open Cup to ensure it aligns with the U.S. Soccer strategic pillars,” the USSF said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

MLS issued a statement four minutes later saying it “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.”

MLS added “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.”

The United Soccer League, which entered 46 of the 99 teams in this year’s tournament, said in a statement: “We stand with fans across the country who want to see it remain an authentic and inclusive competition.”

Houston beat Inter Miami this year in the U.S. Open Cup final, earning a berth next year in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Miami star Lionel Messi was injured and missed the match.

The U.S. Open Cup began in the 1913-14 season, and MLS started play in 1996. Since the start of MLS, the only team not from the first tier to win the competition was the 1999 Rochester Raging Rhinos of the USL’s second-tier A-League, which beat the Colorado Rapids 2-0 in the final.

Reporting by The Associated Press.


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