Getting More Out Of The Open Cup

Getting More Out Of The Open Cup

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On July 1, 2011
  • Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, US Open Cup

Most of you know I’m a big backer of improving the US Open Cup. It seems like each year we all get into how to improve this old tournament. I call it old because it is and because of how it is structured.

Anyways, Jeremiah Oshan over at SBNation (cheap plug on my part), had a great post yesterday about how to improve the USOC. All points are great and are things I’ve been telling people for years now.

For one the removal of the bid process. Its keeping teams like RSL (who had a nice 8k crowd for their USOC game this past week, more than any other MLS side I might add) from hosting the next round.

What’s involved in the bidding process you ask? Well, at the start of the tournament each team is given a multi-page document that lays out the basics such as stadium size and jersey colors. Along with that is a bid form that includes information like expected attendance, whether or not the game will be on radio or televised and, most controversially, how much money the team is willing to guarantee the federation. This is where all kinds of potential shenanigans can happen.

SB Nation has learned the bids for third-round games are often at least in the tens of thousands of dollars, and bids in the later rounds can be substantially more. The kicker? Even MLS teams don’t know how much the other teams are bidding and never learn. For teams that actually want to win the tournament — and more and more teams seem to be figuring out that at the very least this is the path of least resistance to the CONCACAF Champions League — there are really no limits to how much they might be willing to spend.

Oshan next talks about the structure and how to include more teams. I’ve been saying for ages that the MLS qualifying round needs to be removed. Its amazing how the USSF keeps going with this kind of qualification for this tournament.

The USSF should embrace this unique feature by expanding the tournament in order to allow all 16 U.S.-based MLS teams automatic entry. That this already doesn’t happen is, perhaps, the hardest aspect of the tournament to understand. As it currently stands, the tournament consists of 40 teams — eight from MLS and 32 from various other leagues. Rather than eliminating spots that currently go to these lower leagues, simply add eight spots in the tournament.

Again, it isn’t that hard to make an 48 team bracket. Base things on region if you must, hell, even make it semi-NCAA tournament like. It would improve the game across the board and promote the big guys vs. the little guys even more. People love a good underdog but would still be fine when the tournament still saw the final eight teams being mostly MLS like we normally see today.

Oshan also talks about getting TV and a permanent venue for the final match. Both are a must in my book.