The Cup US web site reports troubling news today: Seems that two NPSL clubs have declined to participate in this year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, citing the financial strain of America’s oldest cup competition.
In other words, we will get less of the very thing that makes domestic soccer geeks (I raise my hand high in the air at this point) love the Open Cup: little clubs getting their shot at the heavies of our domestic game. (Suggested motto: “U.S. Open Cup: still the game’s best-kept secret, after all these years!”)
NPSL is domestic soccer’s fourth tier. Heavily dependent on college players (in their off-season) and operating on shoestring budgets, hosting or traveling for Open Cup matches can be a strain.
That what the operators of the National Premier Soccer League’s Erie Admirals and AFC Cleveland have taken a pass on invitations into this year’s field.
It’s a particular shame seeing as this is the tournament’s 100th anniversary.
From the story at The Cup US (a wonderful, labor of love resource for all things U.S. Open Cup, by the way), this is from Erie owner John Moody:
We would love to take part in this great tournament … but there’s just too many unknowns for a club like ours.”
Doggone shame. It’s nobody’s fault in particular – just a shame. See the story linked above for great details on U.S. Soccer reimbursement ($8,000) just doesn’t cover the costs for these smaller clubs. (And, no, we can’t blame U.S. Soccer for this one. I know it’s the reflexive thing to do, and U.S. Soccer hasn’t always gotten it right on the U.S. Open Cup, but there’s only so much the federation can do in terms of underwriting a tournament that makes very little money.)
Early round play in this year’s 68-team tournament begins May 7.