The 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is going to look a lot different from the 2015 version, as Major League Soccer’s “B teams” will not be allowed in the tournament.
Regardless of how you want to view the MLS-owned sides in the USL, the move helps a great tournament avoid the tricky components of having two teams owned by the same business in one bracket.
So fans of Seattle Sounders 2, Portland Timbers 2, LA Galaxy 2, New York Red Bulls 2, Real Monarchs and 2016 expansion teams Orlando City B, Bethlehem Steel and Swope Park Rangers will not see their teams competing to knock off the giants of MLS.
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Thirteen other USL sides have affiliate relationships with MLS teams, which has presented lesser problems. In 2013, the Rochester Rhinos were matched up with the New England Revolution in tournament play, with the USL side unable to use its four players on loan from the Revs.
“Any Outdoor Professional League Team that is majority owned by a higher-level Outdoor Professional League Team shall be ineligible to participate in the Open Cup. The Open Cup Committee shall review and determine team eligibility annually pursuant to this provision and report its decisions to the National Board of Directors.”
Ninety-one total teams competed in the 2015 USOC tournament, and it remains to be seen how many teams will be in the field given the changes.
Only two teams from outside MLS made the fifth round last season, the NASL’s New York Cosmos and the USL’s Charlotte Independence.