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U.S. Soccer hits back at MLS clubs about playing first teams in U.S. Open Cup



Photo by Carl Gulbish

The Philadelphia Union will be required to play their first team in the U.S. Open Cup, the United States Soccer Federation announced Wednesday. Major League Soccer previously announced its teams would have their reserve, MLS Next Pro sides compete in the tournament, though that request was denied by U.S. Soccer.

“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 federation said in a statement. “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 previously announced its clubs would send their second teams so that clubs could focus on the new Leagues Cup, a tournament between U.S. and Mexican clubs that offers a higher payout to the winner.

The U.S. Open Cup has a longstanding history of giving lower-tier clubs a chance to compete against the best in the country. Frequently, USL sides have opportunities to knock off top MLS teams, as happened last year with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which knocked off three MLS teams en route to a quarterfinal exit against FC Cincinnati.

“We believe the Open Cup is a historic and integral part of America’s soccer culture,” the USL said in a statement. “We stand with fans across the country who want to see it remain an authentic and inclusive competition.

“Regarding the future of the Open Cup, we will continue working with our owners and U.S. Soccer on what the tournament will look like going forward,” the league added.

MLS released a statement as well where they again mention their talking points about schedule congestion and emphasizing the importance of playing up-and-coming players.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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