- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On January 20, 2011
- 4 Comments
- US Open Cup
I’ve had this thought bubbling for a while. How on earth can we improve the US Open Cup? I know I’ve mentioned it in the past and today seemed like a good day to bring it back up. With the changes that have gone on in US Soccer over the last year or so with the NASL-USL split and the ever growing MLS it seems like a perfect time to revamp the Cup.
I’ve always been interested and eager to see the US Open Cup have a format similar to the FA Cup in England. I think having the little guys like the PDL and USASA teams involved early on with the MLS, NASL and USL-Pro teams will make for a better competition. The FA Cup has a crazy qualification system but it works in my mind as it gets the smaller clubs involved early with the big boys.
So how exactly would the US Open Cup change? Right now the MLS qualifying rounds make no sense to me. Having only half of the league’s teams involved in the final bracket seems pointless really as it gives most MLS clubs a reason not to take this thing serious. By removing that qualifying round for MLS club and expanding out the bracket we’d see possibly more teams take the tournament serious like Seattle, D.C., and a few others have in the past.
My thought is to keep the PDL and USASA qualifications the same but reduce the number that get in from those two groups to 14 clubs (last year 17 qualified). Those teams will play in the first round bracket against USL-Pro and NASL clubs. Keeping it fairly local should reduce travel costs as well. The winners face a MLS side in the second round.
In other words the bracket would be broken down in four regions of 12 clubs. Four MLS sides would get buys into the second round and face winners of the other games. In all its a 48 team bracket (note this provides that the USL-Pro does get a team in San Antonio this year like its been rumored). Of course this will be tweaked with MLS expands further in the US with New York or even other cities but for arguments sake we’ll stick with the 48 team bracket (same goes for USL-Pro and NASL expanding as well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it).
You can still do mid-week games for these and keep it fairly local to reduce travel costs. You’d likely see better games throughout it as well. It may add an extra game or two for some who already have a busy schedule but seeing all MLS teams in the bracket will make it better in the long run.
The big question comes to when you’d play these rounds. I’d honestly love to see this tournament get finished up before the end of the summer. Of course there have been other ideas out there like doing this around the time that the MLS season wraps up or even having some of the qualifying rounds for non-playoff MLS teams happen during the playoffs.
Of course a lot has to change besides just overall format of the tournament for every MLS club to get serious about this tournament. Its possible with the upcoming roster expansion and reserve division coming back into the fold that we’ll see this tournament get truly competitive for MLS sides.
So what do you think of the US Open Cup going to a 48-team bracket? Think it would work? Would it be better off if all MLS clubs were involved in the bracket instead of going through a qualifying round like they do now? Let’s hear your take.